THE MYSTERY REVEALED
In the Gospels there are three expressions descriptive of Jesus Christ, which are suggestive of the double fact in His Personality, a contemplation of which will aid in this article of the revealed mystery. The first of them, the Son of God, indicates the Deity of Jesus, and yet perfectly describes His humanity. The second, the Son of Man, indicates His relation to the race, and yet ever suggests that separateness from it, which was created by the fact of His Deity. The third, the Son, always suggests the union of these facts in the unity of His Person. An examination of the four Gospels, and a selection from them of the passages in which these titles occur, reveal certain facts of interest concerning them.
Taking them in order, the term, THE SON OF GOD, occurs in Matthew, nine times; in Mark, four times; in Luke, six times ; and in John eleven times. The title in Matthew is never used by Christ Himself; six times it is the language of men, and three times that of devils. In the Gospel of Mark it is never used by Christ, but by men twice, by devils twice. In the Gospel of Luke it is never used by Christ, but by an angel once, by a man once, and by devils four times. In the Gospel of John the title is on five occasions used by Jesus, and six times by men. It is interesting to note that in the three Gospels dealing principally with the humanity of Jesus, He is never recorded as having spoken of Himself as the Son of God. In the one Gospel of His Deity, He is recorded as having used the expression five times. About one of these there is a doubt, for it is not at all certain whether the words "He that believeth on Him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God,"(John 3:18) do not form part of John's commentary, rather than of the actual discourse of Jesus. Four times that are certain, indicate a method and a reason. Twice He so described Himself in answering His critics (John 5:25; John 10:36) once when He brought comfort and light to an excommunicated man, (John 9:35) and once when He would help two broken-hearted women, whose brother Lazarus He was about to raise from the dead. (John 11:4)
The term, SON OF MAN, occurs in Matthew thirty-two times, in Mark fifteen times, in Luke twenty-six times, and in John twelve times. In the first three Gospels, the title is always recorded as having been used by Christ of Himself, and never by angel, by man, or by demon. Of the twelve occasions in John, ten are from the lips of Christ, twice only was the expression used by men, and then in the spirit of criticism and unbelief, "We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth forever: and how sayest Thou, the Son of Man must he lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" (John 12:34)
The last of these expressions, THE SON, the greatest of the three, without either qualifying phrase, and therefore suggesting both relationships, occurs in Matthew four times, in Mark once, in Luke three times, and in John fifteen times. Without a single exception the phrase is used by Christ Himself, never by angel, or man, or demon.
This rapid survey shows that Christ's favorite expression for describing Himself is the one which veiled His glory, the Son of Man. He most often described Himself in a way in which men never describe Him, except when repeating His own language; they in doubt ask what He meant. He also used, and He alone, the expression, the Son, suggesting in the light of the other two expressions, His relation to the Divine, and His relation to the human. The expression which declared His essential glory only passed His lips, in all probability, four times.
The value of this examination of the use of the descriptive phrases may thus be stated. He was the Son of God, but that great fact never passed His lips, except when some pressing circumstance made it necessary that for rebuke or comfort He should declare the Eternal relationship which He bore to God. The title which He seems to have loved best was that which marked His humanity, and His relationship to the race, the Son of Man. Occasionally, and always under circumstances of special need, He spoke of Himself as the Son.
These very titles suggest the essential fact concerning Him. At the birth of Jesus of Nazareth there came into existence One Personality, such as, with reference to the duality of its nature, had never had existence before. The Son of God came from the eternities. The Son of Man began His Being. The Son combining the two facts, in one Personality, commenced that mighty work which He alone could accomplish, bringing to its carrying out all the forces of Deity, in union with the capacities of humanity.