The term Son of Man appears frequently in Hebrew Scriptures. It refers to a human being with all his or her imperfections and troubles. When God address a character as son of man in an ancient Hebrew setting, it’s to make the point that God is very aware of how weak, confused and generally overwhelmed by life that person often is.
When Christian Scriptures refer to Jesus as Son of Man they are in effect calling him everyman. They’re also making the point that, in Jesus, God has entered into the concrete reality of human life with all its weakness and trouble.
It’s in this context that John pictures the two people who announce Jesus’ resurrection referring to him as the Son of Man. John’s point is that Jesus has dealt with the same weaknesses and faced the same evils that we all face. Just as, despite our best efforts, we’re often overcome by injustice and rejection, Jesus was overcome. In the face of all that, the messengers tell us, God has rescued Jesus from death and failure.
Just as Jesus’ life demonstrated what a fully human life looked like, his resurrection revealed God’s faithfulness to humans who live with trust in God’s oneness with us. The messenger is Jesus; the message is about us.
Easter is concerned with much more than life after death. Jesus’ resurrection is God’s promise to preserve, utilize and bring every human effort for good to fruition. On Easter Christians celebrate the faith that none of our work for God’s justice is ever lost. No matter how dire things look, God underwrites our investment in life and assures its ultimate success.
We know all too well what it means to be Sons (and daughters) of Man. It’s God’s promise that we will also know the triumph of the Risen Jesus.