Luk 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
WE'LL NEVER SEE 'JESUS LIFTED UP' EVER AGAIN!
By the way, and having quoted John 8:28 at the start, let us be wary of using the 'lifting up' motif we find in John in any sense other than the one intended. Many praise songs and prayers today speak of wanting to see Jesus 'lifted up'. Yes, it is right for us to want his name lifted up and his person exalted. But in John 12 Jesus says this:
John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. 34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? 35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
He is telling them, and John tells us he is telling them, as plainly as he can, that he would be 'lifted up' in his death. He is telling us how he would die. On the cross Jesus was lifted up. It is his work on the cross which draws all men to him. We can no more lift him up again than we can crucify him again. It is a finished work. Let us glorify him, exalt him, praise him, but let us never want to see Jesus himself 'lifted' anywhere again. It won't happen.
SON OF MAN IS THE SUFFERING SERVANT
To resume, to anyone unacquainted with Daniel's vision, it can indeed seem as if 'Son of man' is someone purely and solely human. Yet there is still something disturbing about the way our Lord uses it. To take just a few examples from Mark's Gospel:
Mark 2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, ...
Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mark 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Mark 9:9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
Mark 9:12 And he answered and told them, Elijah verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
In the last reference, Jesus is identifying 'the Son of man' with Isaiah's mysterious suffering servant, the one who is 'despised and rejected of men' (Isa 53:3) but be 'exalted and extolled and be very high' such that 'kings shall shut their mouths at him.' (Isa 52:13,15) It is another reinforcement of his 'Son of man' accreditation.
HIGH PRIEST UNDERSTANDS
But it is at his trial that the Lord Jesus finally explains plainly that he is the 'Son of man' from Daniel's vision.
In front of the High Priest our gracious Lord is first silent in the face of accusations and lying witnesses. This goes on to the point where Caiaphas loses patience and begins to ask Jesus point blank to confirm who he is. And then the answer comes, shocking the high priest to lose his temper:
Mark 14:61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
63: Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?
64: Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
The words 'I am' in v62 in themselves identified Jesus as God, but then the Sanhedrin was rocked by that distinct reference to Daniel 7:13. Now they, and we, can see that whenever Jesus has called Himself 'the Son of man,' He has been identifying himself as the righteous and everlasting King of kings in Daniel's vision.
'SON OF MAN' IS GOD THE SON
The learned Sanhedrin certainly understood. The High Priest tore his robes and said, quite rightly, that Jesus had condemned Himself out of his own mouth. He realised immediately that Jesus had claimed equality with God. With the benefit of Christian theology and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can now see that the Lord's constant identification of Himself as 'The Son of man' is the same as being the only begotten Son of God.
Curiously, Jesus only refers to Himself as 'the Son of God' on five occasions, all in John's Gospel. Others never call Jesus 'Son of Man' but regularly call Him 'Son of God.' The Devil sneers at 'the Son of God', demons implore 'the Son of God', disciples fall down and worship 'the Son of God', Caiaphas asks him if that is who he is and finally the centurion acknowledges him in that way. But Christ usually refers to himself in John, and exclusively in the so-called 'synoptic' Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) as 'the Son of man.'
Before the Sanhedrin all the pieces fall into the place. 'The Son of man' in all his Daniel context is now truly seen as the divine everlasting ruler (see Isa 9:6). And from the context, it is much more explicit an expression of our Lord's origin, status and destiny than 'the Son of God' could ever be. After all, Adam was 'the son of God' (Luke 3:38). We can all be children of the Most High.
We can probably say that this seemingly innocuous phrase, 'Son of man', is the most significant expression of our Lord's divine nature in the New Testament. It shows that Jesus understood himself as being the one to whom all dominion and an everlasting kingdom would be given. So did the early church.
THE EARLY CHURCH UNDERSTOOD
The Apostle John used the expression on two occasions in his Revelation. This is the second:
Rev. 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
The Revelation was given when Christian theology was well-developed. The Apostle Paul had already told Timothy that Jesus was the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords (1Tim 6:15). All things were made through him and for him (
1:16), and he is before all kings. John understand perfectly well what he saw and appreciated the Daniel significance.