The Person and Titles of Jesus

Background

At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people looked forward to the coming of the Messiah.

This person would be a great warrior and king, like David. He would rescue the Jews from all their enemies. He would bring a new Kingdom, where God would be the ruler.

Messiah / Christ

‘Messiah’ means ‘Anointed One’. A king is anointed to begin his reign. The Greek word for Messiah is Christos which gives us the word Christ.

The Jews believed that before the Messiah came, the prophet Elijah would come to prepare things for him.

The first Christians believed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Christ, but his kingdom is very different from the political kingdom which most Jews expected. The Christians believed that John the Baptist was the new Elijah who was also expected.

Titles for Jesus

Many different titles are used for Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. Each one says something different about how Jesus was understood. There are four main groups of titles: Son of God, Son of Man, Saviour and Messiah.

The Son of God

To say that someone is the ‘Son of’ someone or something is a figure of speech. It means that they have some resemblance, or characteristics of the person or thing. For example, Jesus called James and John ‘Sons of Thunder’ because of their temper.

The first meaning of ‘Son of God’, is that Jesus is chosen by God, or close to God. It is a way of saying how special Jesus is to Mark and the first Christians.

Son of God is a way that non-Jewish Christians explained the importance of Jesus. For them, to say he is ‘Christ’ or ‘Messiah’ needed to be explained. Son of God helped to do that.

‘Son of God’ reminds Christians that Jesus very often called God his ‘Father’. It is especially suitable as a title for Jesus.

‘Son of God’ in Mark

In Mark’s Gospel, the title ‘Son of God’ is not used very often. When it is used, it is especially important.

Jesus is called Son of God in the very first verse of Mark’s Gospel;

Jesus is called Son of God at the beginning of his ministry, when he is baptised;

Jesus is called Son of God at the Transfiguration;

Jesus is called Son of God immediately after his death by the Roman Centurion.

The Person and Titles of Jesus

Background

At the time of Jesus, the (1)___________________ Jewish people looked forward to the coming of the Messiah.

This person would be a great (2)_________________ warrior and king, like David. He would rescue the Jews from all their (3)_________________ enemies. He would bring a new Kingdom, where (4)______________ God would be the ruler.

Messiah, Christ

‘Messiah’ means ‘(5)___________________ Anointed One’. A king is anointed to begin his (6)___________________ reign. The Greek word for Messiah is Christos which gives us the word (7)___________________ Christ.

The Jews believed that before the Messiah came, the prophet (8)___________________ Elijah would come to prepare things for him.

The first Christians believed Jesus to be the (9)___________________ Messiah, (the Christ). The Christians believed that (10)___________________ John the Baptist was the new Elijah who was also expected.

The Son of God

To say that someone is the ‘Son of’ someone or something means that they have some (11)___________________ resemblance to the person or thing.

The first meaning of ‘Son of God’, is that Jesus is (12)___________________ chosen by God, or close to God. It is a way of saying how special Jesus is to Mark and the first Christians.

Son of God is a way that non-Jewish Christians (13)___________________ explained the importance of Jesus. They did not understand the idea of a Messiah.

‘Son of God’ reminds Christians that Jesus very often called God his (14)___________________ ‘Father’. It is especially suitable as a title for Jesus.

‘Son of God’ in Mark

In Mark’s Gospel, the title ‘Son of God’ is not used very often. When it is used, it is especially important.

Jesus is called Son of God in the very first verse of Mark’s (15)___________________ Gospel;

Jesus is called Son of God at the beginning of his ministry, when he is (16)___________________ baptised;

Jesus is called Son of God at the (17)___________________ Transfiguration;

Jesus is called Son of God immediately after his death by the Roman (18)___________________ Centurion.

 

The Person and Titles of Jesus

II: The Son of Man

‘Son of Man’ is the title which is used most often of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus calls himself ‘The Son of Man’ fourteen times. However, the title was hardly ever used by the first Christians nor the Church ever since. What could it mean?

One explanation is that ‘Son of Man’ is a title for the Messiah, and refers to the book of Daniel chapter 7, where the prophet speaks of ‘one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven’. If this explanation is right, then Jesus calls himself a mysterious and supernatural saviour. The problem with this explanation is that only once is it used in this way in the Gospel - when Jesus stands before the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin. (Mark 14:62)
Another explanation is that in Aramaic, the language which Jesus spoke, this is simply another way of saying ‘I’. This may suggest that these phrases were translated directly from the Aramaic into the Greek.

For Christians then and now, the title Son of Man reminds us of the humanity of Jesus. Jesus often uses this title when he is explaining that he must suffer and give his life.

Questions

Answer these questions in your files. Answer in full sentences, using the sense of the question in your answer.

  1. How many times is the title ‘Son of Man’ used in Mark’s Gospel?
  2. Look up the Gospel passages. Make a list of the references, and next to each reference note who is speaking and the words which they use (briefly). Who is it who makes most use of this title?
  3. Give two possible explanations for the meaning of the title ‘Son of Man’.
  4. From your reading of the passages in Mark, which do you think is the best explanation?
  5. ‘Jesus often uses this title (Son of Man) when he is explaining that he must suffer and give his life.’ Can you find three examples of this? (Give references and quotations).

The Son of Man

‘Son of Man’ is the title which is used most often of Jesus in (1)_________________ Mark’s Gospel. Jesus calls himself ‘The Son of Man’ (2)________________ fourteen times. However, the title was hardly ever used by the first (3)_________________ Christians nor the Church ever since.

One explanation of the title is that ‘Son of Man’ is a title for the (4)_________________ Messiah, and refers to the book of (5)_________________ Daniel chapter 7, where the prophet refers to ‘one like a son of man coming on the clouds of (6)___________________ heaven’. But the title is used in this way in the Gospel only once - when Jesus stands before the Jewish Council, the (7)_________________ Sanhedrin. (Mark 14:62)
Another (8)_________________ explanation is that in Aramaic, (the language which Jesus spoke) this is another way of (9)_________________ saying ‘I’.

For Christians then and now, the title Son of (10)________________ Man reminds us of the humanity of (11)________________ Jesus. Jesus often uses this title when he is explaining that he must (12)________________ suffer and give his life.

Complete the table

Reference

Who speaks?

What does he say?

2:10

2:28

8:31

8:38

9:9

9:12

9:31

10:33

10:45

13:26

14:21

14:21

14:41

14:62

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