Easter—The Resurrection Makes All the Difference (Part 2)

April 15, 2014

by Peter Amsterdam

As we celebrate Easter, we are celebrating God’s way of bringing salvation to us. In His love for humanity, God made a way for us to enter into an eternal relationship with Him, and the means was through His Son coming into the world, living as a human being, and laying down His life for us. Jesus did just that. He came into this world out of love, lived as we live, and gave Himself over to be crucified. His death made it possible for us to truly know God and to live with Him forever. Jesus was God’s Son. We know this because of the account of Him given in the Gospels, and through the rest of the Bible. He did and said numerous things which spoke to the fact that He was God’s Son. His resurrection from the dead, which we celebrate every Easter, was proof that He was all that He said He was—that He was the long-awaited Messiah, and that He was God the Son.

In part one of “Easter—The Resurrection Makes All the Difference,” we saw the importance of Jesus’ resurrection on the first Easter morning in connection with the claims He made about Himself as being the Messiah. We looked at the authority with which Jesus fulfilled His ministry, as well as the prophecies given throughout the Bible about the promised Messiah. Now we’ll move on to Jesus as the Son of Man; His power, dominion, and place as judge; and as the Son of God.

The Son of Man

Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man over seventy times throughout the Gospels. While on occasion He stated that He was the Messiah, He generally didn’t refer to Himself as such. The title of Messiah carried with it preconceived ideas in the minds of the people of His day and expectations of a political nature. Continually claiming to be the Messiah would most likely have prematurely brought Him problems with the Jewish leaders as well as the Roman government.

It would also have brought up the stereotypical ideas about the messiah which were prominent in those days—someone who would throw off the shackles of the Roman oppressors and physically free the Jewish people.

By referring to Himself as the Son of Man, a non-messianic title from the book of Daniel[1] that the Jews of Jesus’ day were familiar with, Jesus was using a title which allowed Him to speak modestly about Himself; to include aspects of His mission such as His suffering and death, which weren’t considered part of the Messiah’s role. At the same time, in line with what is said in Daniel, it enabled Him to express His exalted role, while avoiding the messianic misconceptions of the time. In using the title Son of Man, Jesus could speak of His mission on earth—which included His suffering and death, His second coming, His role in judgment, and His glorious future—without using the politically charged title of Messiah.

Within the Gospels, Jesus was the only one who used the title Son of Man in reference to Himself. He used the title to claim the authority to do what only God could do, such as forgive sins:

“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”[2]

He also referred to Himself this way when telling His disciples about His coming crucifixion and resurrection on the third day, while He avoided the term Messiah, as suffering and death were not what they expected for the Messiah. He spoke about the Son of Man giving His life as a ransom, teaching that His death was a vicarious sacrifice, that He was laying down His life for the salvation of others.

“We are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.”[3]

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.[4]

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.[5]

Jesus foretold that as the Son of Man, He would lay down His life for us. And so He was crucified, died, and was buried—and then rose from the dead. Because He rose, we have affirmation that His Heavenly Father set His seal upon Him,[6] and that His sacrificial atoning death has given us eternal life.

Power and Judgment

Another way in which Jesus used the phrase “the Son of Man” was when speaking of His second coming, when He will return to the earth to establish His rule and to pronounce judgment. The book of Daniel speaks of “one like a son of man” coming on the clouds of heaven. This reference to a human-looking figure with authority, glory, worship, and an eternal kingdom evokes an image of power normally reserved for God.

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.[7]

When Jesus speaks of His return, He refers to what Daniel saw in his vision. He explains that He will come in the glory of His Father,[8] coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,[9] seated on a glorious throne,[10] at the right hand of Power.[11]

He also speaks of the time of judgment which He will preside over, as His Father has given Him the authority to execute judgment. With this authority, He will divide the “sheep from the goats” and reward everyone according to what they have done.

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.[12]

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.[13]

For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.[14]

These claims Jesus made about executing judgment are extraordinary—far beyond what any human could or should claim. However, Jesus, as the Son of God, has this authority, and His claims were validated by the fact that God raised Him from the dead.

The Son of God

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is referred to as the Son of God, both by Himself and by others. His Sonship is woven throughout the Gospels, especially in the things He said about Himself. From the Gospels we understand that He existed eternally with the Father before the creation of the world as the Logos, the Word of God, and that He made all things. The Logos then became flesh, in the person of Jesus, who through the life He led taught us about God and His love.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth … No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.[15]

We also hear Him speak of His preexistence when He said:

Now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed … Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.[16]

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”[17]

We are told of His Sonship in the birth narratives, where His paternity comes directly from God through the conception of the Holy Spirit, and therefore He is called the Son of God. He was named Jesus, which means “Yahweh is salvation”—Yahweh being one of the names by which the Jewish people know God.

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.[18]

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan at the beginning of His mission, the voice of God stated that Jesus was His Son.

When Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”[19]

Close to the end of His mission, when He was transfigured, God once again declared that He was His Son.

A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”[20]

Jesus spoke of being sent by the Father, coming from the Father, and returning to the Father.

As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.[21]

I have not come of My own accord. He who sent Me is true, and Him you do not know. I know Him, for I come from Him, and He sent Me.[22]

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.[23]

Jesus claimed to do the work of His Father, including tasks which only God does, such as giving life to the dead.

Whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.[24]

If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.[25]

For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will.[26]

Jesus had a unique relationship with the Father through knowing Him as only His only begotten Son could. The Father has also given all things into His hands.

I know Him. If I were to say that I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and I keep His Word.[27]

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.[28]

All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.[29]

When asked by the Jewish leadership if He was the Son of God, He answered in the affirmative.

The high priest asked Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard His blasphemy.”[30]

The statements Jesus made about Himself and His relationship to God, claiming to be equal to God; at times accepting worship;[31] and claiming to do the work of the Father, were seen as outlandish and blasphemous. He was looked upon as a false messiah. Some people considered Him demon-possessed.[32] The Jewish religious leaders who considered Him a false messiah came to the conclusion that He needed to die so that the Romans wouldn’t destroy the nation because of Him.[33] While the Jewish leaders didn’t have the authority to kill Jesus themselves, they were able to have Him crucified by the Roman authorities. The supposed false messiah who claimed to be God’s Son was crucified, and the problem was seemingly taken care of.

But then… He rose from the dead. The resurrection proved that all He said He was, all the authority He claimed to have—the Messiahship, the power and dominion, the judgment, and His Sonship—was genuine. He is who He said He was.

Had Jesus not risen, had there been no resurrection, then everything that God’s Word says about Him would be false. Our faith, as Paul said, would be worthless. But the resurrection proves that our faith is of inestimable worth. It proves that Jesus is God the Son.

Because of the resurrection, we are assured that through belief in Jesus we have eternal life. That’s what Easter is all about. That’s why it’s a day to praise and thank Him for His sacrifice, for laying down His life for us. That’s why it’s a day to worship God for the wonderful plan of salvation which He enacted. That’s why Easter is a wonderful day to make a personal commitment to share the good news that Jesus is risen and His free offer of salvation is still available to all who will receive it. Happy Easter!


Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Daniel 7:13–14: I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

[2] Matthew 9:6.

[3] Matthew 20:18–19.

[4] Matthew 17:22–23.

[5] Matthew 20:28.

[6] Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal (John 6:27).

[7] Daniel 7:13–14.

[8] Matthew 16:27.

[9] Matthew 24:30.

[10] Matthew 19:28.

[11] Matthew 26:64.

[12] John 5:26–27.

[13] Matthew 25:31–33.

[14] Matthew 16:27.

[15] John 1:1–3,14,18.

[16] John 17:5,24.

[17] John 8:58.

[18] Luke 1:31–32,35.

[19] Matthew 3:16–17.

[20] Matthew 17:5.

[21] John 17:18.

[22] John 7:28–29.

[23] John 16:28.

[24] John 5:19.

[25] John 10:37–38.

[26] John 5:21.

[27] John 8:55.

[28] John 3:35.

[29] John 16:15.

[30] Mark 14:61–64.

[31] Those in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him (John 9:35–38).

[32] The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill You?” (John 7:20).

[33] The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish” (John 11:47–50).