Moltmann Monday: The Son of Man as True Human Being

Hello friends! As yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, today’s Moltmann Monday excerpt comes from The Way of Jesus Christ in a section on Jesus as Messiah:

Who is this ‘son of man?’ Initially he was quite simply ‘the son of a human being,’ a particular example of the human species, but one who represents the whole pars pro toto*, an individual who fulfills the destiny of human beings, which is to be the image of God, and who hence manifests the God with the human face (Ezek. 1:26). Since the inhuman, bestial empires of the Babylonians, Medes, Persians and Macedonians are contrasted with the kingdom of ‘the son of man’, this kingdom clearly means ‘the human kingdom of the true human being’, the kingdom which makes true humanity possible, in righteousness and universal peace. The kingdom of the son of man does not evolve out of the succession of world empires. It breaks out of the transcendence into the history of human struggles for power, as something utterly new.

*The Latin phrase¬†pars pro toto¬†simply means “a part for the whole” so the idea is that Jesus represents not only himself but all of humanity in his role as messiah.

I know this is a short excerpt, but that’s because it has plenty within it to ponder this Advent season. And that is simply this: Jesus fulfills the destiny of human beings, which is to be the image of God. Not only because he was born that way, but because in his years on this earth, he lived that way. Jesus is the greatest example of what it means to be human.

He does this in the shadow of inhuman empires. Not only that of Rome, but as Moltmann lists, also the empires of the Babylonians, Medes, Persians and Macedonians. There are inhuman empires on all sides. They are called kingdoms. They have leaders of power. It was not uncommon for political leaders to call themselves sons of God. Jesus is the son of God in a different way- not by the power of inhuman empires but the power of the living God who enters the world humbly. Jesus is also the son of man, because his kingdom, his example, is what makes true humanity possible. He shows us the way. It is not the way of the empires, but the way of the messiah.

The reign of Jesus is a human kingdom where we become true human beings, those who live in both righteousness and universal peace. By him and with him and in him, we too can fulfill our destiny as human beings, which is to bear the image of God and BE the image of God in a world surrounded by inhuman empires.

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