As we make our way through Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life, his theme concerning the kingship of Jesus is readily apparent. Matthew showed his intent in the first chapter by beginning with a genealogy that established Jesus as the rightful heir to the Davidic throne. Chapter 2 continued with the wise men that came to Jerusalem inquiring, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” In chapter 3, John the Baptist declared “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Then in chapters 5, 6, and 7, there is the Sermon on the Mount which is the manifesto of the Kingdom. The theme of kingship is reiterated over and over throughout this gospel account.
What should not go unnoticed is Jesus’ statement to a scribe in chapter 8 who professed a desire to become a disciple and to follow Him wherever He went. Jesus said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.” This is the first time Jesus used the designation “the son of man.” This is not an insignificant statement and should be viewed very carefully. There is a sense in which this designation shows the humility of Christ. We might not expect this after He astonished the people with His authority in expounding the Law of Moses. Neither would we expect it after the countless numbers of miracles performed afterwards. Looking back from our perspective knowing what will come next when He commands a storm on the Sea of Galilee to subside, we surely would not expect it.
However, we cannot pass over “son of man” and leave it simply as an expression of humility. Read carefully these words from Daniel 7:13-14 which is Daniel’s vision of God: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Very clearly, “son of man” is another statement of kingship. Who would better understand “son of man” than this scribe? Scribes were versed in the law and prophets; they were charged with the great responsibility of preserving scripture through meticulous transcription. This statement was not lost on him. The reference is unmistakable and was as strong a statement as Jesus could make of His sovereign rule over heaven and earth. Think of the dichotomy found in His words! The Son of man, the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the universe, the One who speaks with authority and heals with a touch is not even afforded the comforts of the creature! Those who follow Him need not think they will share His riches until they are willing to taste His humiliation.
Paul explains the depths of His humiliation in Philippians chapter 2; but he also announces His exaltation (Phil. 2:5-11). In II Timothy 2:12, he says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” The scribe could not fathom this duality. He did not choose to get in the boat with Jesus and we must conclude that neither will He reign with Him. This is the kind of commitment that Jesus asks. If God so chooses, we must be content to follow Him anywhere no matter how difficult the path may be. Those who suffer for Him will eventually reign with Him.
Pastor V. Mark Smith