In this second segment of the discussion of Christ the King we are guided by Daniel’s vision where he saw “one like son of man” in the clouds of heaven. This term,”one like a son of man” has been discussed extensively by theologians and scholars and is still a subject of much controversy.
In the New Testament, there are 69 occurrences of the term “Son of Man” in the Synoptic Gospels and 13 in John’s Gospel. With the exception of three, all the references come from Jesus’ lips, mostly in the third person, and as his self-designation. In the Synoptics, there are three categories pertaining to the term.
The first is a present dimension of authority and power. The second is that of suffering and rejection and ultimately crucifixion and the third carries a futuristic dimension. The Son of Man will return some time in the future, exalted and glorified. This return is also a time of judgment and the consummation of all things. The Collect for Christ the King Sunday praises God “whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords”.
It is this third dimension which is the basis of hope and comfort for Christians. It says there is something great and glorious that is beyond the present moment, beyond the now. This has been the source of hope and joy for Christians from the very beginning. When the mob grabbed Stephen to stone him, he “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look’, he said, ‘ I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:55-57).
Assurances notwithstanding, there are, unfortunately some in the Christian community who feel uncomfortable about this futuristic dimension of the Kingship of Christ. “What about now?”, they ask. The comfort ,for Christians, is that the now continues to eternity.
We are ready in Jesus’ Kingdom, now, and that leads to our readiness in his eternal Kingdom when he returns. For Christians it is comforting; it is the hope that is unique to Christians.