The New Testament storyline places considerable emphasis and tension on the question of Jesus’s title. The Gospel of Matthew stresses that Jesus is an ordinary Ben Adam (Son of Man), while the Gospel of Mark shows him repeatedly insisting that people not reveal his identity as the Messiah because of their ignorance of his teaching.
Throughout the gospels, the biblical writers are careful not to let their audience, like the characters in the story, confuse Jesus with a military or political figure of triumph, highlighting instead the shame, defeat, and humiliation of Isaiah’s suffering servant, emphasizing the weakness of an ordinary “son of man,” in order to elevate the teaching of the crucifixion, in opposition to human kingship.
Only in the Gospel of Luke, after having been deprogrammed by the gospels of Matthew and Mark, are the New Testament writers willing to unite the titles Son of Man and Son of David in the storyline. But have we been deprogrammed? To answer that question, we need only look to history to discover how many kings and presidents have painted or still brandish a cross on their flag or a mere “God bless you” on their lips before marching off to war. How many have twisted the meaning of the gospel into an icon of Jesus with a weapon in his hand?
Either the Cross means something, or it doesn’t.
Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Luke 3:23 (Episode 477)
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