The readings from last Sunday, which were taken from the Feast Day of All Saints, featured a sort of “before and after” aspect that may not be immediately evident.
The book of Daniel is best known for stories about Daniel and others surviving the hardships of living under Babylonian rule (such as Daniel in the lion’s den), but the book itself likely dates from a different period of oppression: the Maccabean period when the Jewish people were living under Hellenic rule. Daniel is a figure of faithful resistance in the face of outside oppression, subtle and overt, a scholar, and a prophet of the kingdom to come. The second half of Daniel (from which we heard that Sunday’s lesson) is outright apocalyptic in its use of metaphorical imagery, including a being called the “Son of Man,” to whom the nations will eventually submit, but whose suffering is part of God’s purpose.
Now jump ahead to the Gospel reading from Luke, where Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.”
There were two major archtypes for the coming of Jesus. The first is the heir to David, the former king of Israel, anointed by God through Samuel. The word for anointed in Hebrew is “messiah,” or in Greek, “Christ.” This figure was, in the popular imagination, to be like David a soldier, conqueror, and worldly king. The second was the Son of Man, cast in the image of Daniel—a suffering servant, wise, and faithful, but would still bring out the kingdom of God. In the Gospels Jesus is frequently called the messiah by others, but demurs publicly embracing the title, likely because of the militant connotation of the name. He prefers, as indicated in the Gospel reading, to embrace the other name, the Son of Man, and all the implications therein.
I hope you enjoy this little insight into the Scriptures, and next time you hear Jesus talking about himself either as the messiah or the Son of Man, you have a better understanding of the implications and context, and can give thanks that God’s plan was fulfilled through Jesus Christ in God’s own way.
Yours in Christ,