The Son of Man
Philippe R. Sterling
Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man who came to seek and to save the lost and who trained and commissioned disciples to be His witnesses to the nations beginning from Jerusalem.
Luke is the Gospel of the Son of Man. Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah-King. Mark presents Him as the Servant of God. Luke presents Him as the Son of Man.
Early church writers ascribe the Gospel and Acts to Luke. Luke was a Gentile companion of the Apostle Paul (see Col 4:14; Philemon 23-24; 2 Tim 4:11-12). Luke does not refer to himself by name in his writings. He uses the pronoun “we” in Acts to indicate his accompaniment with Paul in missionary work (e.g., 16:10-17).
Luke carefully investigated the matters related to Christ and the early history of the Church as its witness of Christ spread from Jerusalem to Rome. He may have begun his research during Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea. He may have composed the Gospel and Acts during Paul’s two year house arrest in Rome AD 60-62. Luke concludes Acts by referring to this time period (Acts 28:30-31).
Luke writes to encourage the faith of Theophilus. The name Theophilus carries the meaning of “friend of God” and may be a pseudonym for Gentile believers in general or it may refer to an actual personage. Either way Theophilus represents believers who live in the time period between the First and Second Advents of Jesus. Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man rejected by Israel. Because of the nation’s rejection, Jesus is preached to the Gentiles so that they may know the Kingdom plan of God.
The structure of the Gospel of Luke ties with the structure of the Book of Acts. Together they show a geographical progression towards Jerusalem and from Jerusalem with a central focus on the resurrection and ascension of Christ.
Literary Structure and Content
Luke 19:10 suggests a broad outline for the Gospel, For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.
1. Preface: Luke writes an accurate account dedicated to Theophilus (1:1-4).
2. Advent of the Son of Man: For the Son of Man has come . . . (1:5–3:38).
3. Seeking Activity of the Son of Man: . . . to seek the lost . . . (5:1–19:10).
4. Saving Activity of the Son of Man: . . . and to save the lost (19:45–24:53).
The designation “Son of Man” has a double connotation. On one level it implies Jesus’ humanity. On another level it identifies Him with the exalted “Son of Man” figure of Daniel 7:13-14 who receives an everlasting dominion from the Ancient of Days.
The “lost” in Luke refers to those who are out of harmony with God. A lost person could be someone who does not yet know God or a believer who has strayed from God. The believer who has strayed like the prodigal son needs to come to his senses and return to the Father (15:11-24). A lost person who does not yet know God like perhaps the publican who called upon God for mercy finds justification (18:13-14). All that is required to enter into God’s family is simple faith in Jesus (18:15-17). Maintenance or restoration of family harmony with God requires repentance from sin. Confession of sin brings about family forgiveness. All forgiveness is based upon the death of Christ for our sins (24:46-47; cf. 1 John 1:5–2:2).
I. Preface: Luke’s Gospel is an accurate historical account of the life and teaching of Jesus dedicated to
Luke writes an historical account. His purpose is that the reader might know the truth about Jesus. He names the reader as Theophilus, a name which carries the idea of “friend of God.”
II. Advent of the Son of Man: For the Son of Man has come . . . (1:5–3:38).
A. Childhood of the Son of Man: Luke writes of the births and maturation of John the Baptist and Jesus (1–2).
1. Conception Announcements: The angel Gabriel foretells to Zechariah the miraculous conception of
John and then foretells to Mary the miraculous virginal conception of Jesus (1:5-56).
2. Births and Maturation: John and Jesus are born and mature (1:57–2:52).
The Son of God who became a man needed to grow as all people do (2:39-52). Jesus grew physically. Jesus grew in wisdom. Jesus grew in favor with God and man.
B. Commencement of the Son of Man: Luke relates Jesus’ preparation for ministry (3:1–4:44).
1. Baptism: John announces the coming of Jesus and baptizes Him (3:1-22).
2. Ancestry: Luke records the human ancestry of Jesus the Son of God back to Adam (3:23-38).
3. Temptation: Jesus successfully resists the temptation of Satan (4:1-13).
4. Initial Ministry: Jesus begins His public ministry in Galilee (4:14-44).
III. Seeking Activity of the Son of Man: For the Son of Man has come to seek . . . (5:1–19:44).
A. The Works of the Son of Man: Jesus calls His disciples to seek the lost as He exhibits His power and
authority throughout the region of Galilee (5:1–9:50).
1. Jesus calls disciples to train them to catch men as He demonstrates His authority over sickness, sin,
and the Sabbath (5:1–6:19).
2. Jesus teaches that His deeds authenticate Him as the Son of Man as some reject Him while others
follow Him (6:20–9:50).
The parable of the sower illustrates the various responses to the word of God (8:4-15). Some hear and do not believe. Some hear and believe for a while and then fall away through temptation. Some hear and believe but bring no fruit to maturity because of the cares of the world. Some hear and believe and bear fruit with perseverance.
B. The Words of the Son of Man: Jesus trains His disciples to reach the lost on the way to Jerusalem from
1. Jesus is rejected by many on His journey toward Jerusalem (9:51–11:54).
2. In response to rejection, Jesus teaches His followers (12:1–19:27).
a. Jesus teaches the disciples concerning witnessing without fear, greed, anxiety and readiness for
the coming of the Son of Man (12:1-53).
b. Jesus teaches the crowds concerning the Kingdom of God and the demands of discipleship
The core of Jesus’ teaching on discipleship is found in 14:25-35. A disciple supremely loves Jesus (26). A disciple renounces self as the authority and submits to Jesus (27). A disciple relinquishes ownership of all to Jesus (33).
c. Jesus teaches about the coming Kingdom and the attitude of disciples (17:11–19:27).
3. Jesus enters Jerusalem presenting Himself as the Christ (19:28-44).
IV. Saving Activity of the Son of Man: For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost (19:45–24:53).
A. Conflict Over the Son of Man: Jesus teaches in the midst of conflict (19:45–21:38).
B. Crucifixion of the Son of Man: Jesus is betrayed, tried, crucified and buried (22:1–23:56).
C. Commission of the Risen Son of Man: Jesus rises from the dead and commissions the disciples as
His witnesses to the nations beginning from Jerusalem (24:1-53).
Theological Reflection and Application
Jesus is the Perfect Man who came to seek and to save the lost. Jesus is perfectly human. Luke traces His ancestry back to Adam (3:38). He had a mother who brought Him into the world. He went through the normal stages of human development (2:40). He ate and drank (4:1; 7:34; 24:41-43). As a man He relied upon prayer (5:16) and the Holy Spirit (4:1). Jesus differed from us though in one respect: His humanity was untainted by sin. Jesus embodied perfect humanity.
Jesus presented Himself as the promised Messiah to the nation of Israel. The nation rejected the First Advent ministry of Jesus (see Luke 19:41-44). This rejection resulted in a postponement of the promised Kingdom and an inter-advent age in which the Church made up of Gentile and Jewish believers preach Christ and the Kingdom to come to the nations (see Luke 28:46-48; Acts 28:23-31). Jesus will return to establish the Kingdom at the end of the age (see Acts 1:6-11). In the meantime believers have the responsibility of being witnesses to the nations in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8). The teaching of Jesus which Luke relates and the account of the spread of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome provide discipleship and ministry lessons for every generation of believers.