“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26.64)This week I want to talk a little about a phrase Jesus uses repeatedly in the Jesus stories of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This phrase is “Bar Enasha.” This is a Hebrew phrase that even Historical Criticists of the Jesus Story admit is original to Jesus. It is used more than 81 times in the four versions of the Jesus story that we have today. It is the only phrase Jesus used anywhere nearly as much as the phrase “the Kingdom.” Modern translations translate this Hebrew phrase (Bar Enasha) via its Greek version into the English phrase “Son of Man.” However, this is a transliteration from the Greek, which in turn was a transliteration of the Hebrew “Bar Enasha.” What did this phrase mean, not in the Greek, but in the Aramaic that Jesus spoke? This Hebrew phrase comes directly from Daniel 7.13.
As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a SON OF MAN coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7.13, 14)
The Hebrews rightly understood this phrase applied not only to an individual but also to a “community” founded in this individual. Notice the following context of Daniel’s phrase “son of man.” It is not an individual but also a “People” who are “birthed” from this “individual.”
“The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to THE PEOPLE of the holy ones of the Most High; THEIR kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey THEM.” (Daniel 7.27)
Pay close attention to verses 13 through 14 and verse 27. You will see clearly that Bar Enasha (what in English is translated as “Son of Man”) is much more than a mere individual, and is a new humanity that finds its source in that individual.
“Son of” is merely a Semitic idiom meaning “Of or pertaining to the following genus or species.” Translating Bar Enasha as the “True Humanity” or “The Human Being” or the “Divinely revolutionized humanity,” or, as some historically have called it, “beloved community” would be better than merely “Son of Man.” Here is a side exercise. Go back and reread all the times Jesus uses this phrase “Son of Man” and try to see what Jesus is saying “communally.” In other words, look at this phrase, not as merely talking about Jesus himself as an isolated individual but rather as Jesus himself AND this new humanity he has come to give birth to. It’s not Jesus or the New Humanity, but Jesus AND His New Humanity.
Now I also want to be clear about something else. I don’t want, for a second, to be misunderstood on this. I believe wholeheartedly in a literal second coming, a literal physical return of Jesus our Lord to this earth. This was clearly promised by the angels that accompanied his ascension:
“While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1.10-11)
Yet we must also be honest that when Jesus referred to the “coming” of the Bar Enasha, he was not always referring to his literal physical return but to the coming of that must precede his literal, physical return. He was pointing, in many of his uses of Bar Enasha, to the coming of this “Bar Enasha,” the coming of this new Humanity that must and will precede his literal, physical return. Which leads us to our featured text this week:
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: FROM NOW ON you will see the Son of Man [the Bar Enasha] sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26.64)
Notice, here Jesus is not talking about some event in the future on literal clouds. (Although Jesus will return on literal clouds.) Jesus here is quoting Daniel 7 and saying, “What Daniel is referring to in verse 13 taking place at that moment, “right now” before your very eyes! Jesus said, “from now on!” Jesus is quoting Daniel 7.13 and applying it to that very moment and from that very moment onward! Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, which was at that moment set in motion, He would be giving birth to this new humanity, the Bar Enasha. This is what Jesus had been referring to throughout His entire ministry as the coming of the Kingdom.
How does this apply to us today?
We must make no mistake here. We, as followers of this Jesus, are not only invited to be a part of this new humanity birthed through Jesus’ death but are also called to put on display what this new humanity is all about. We are called to be the world changed by Jesus! We are not called to force, through legislation, change over the world around us. No, no! We, as the church, are called to BE this whole new world radically changed by Jesus Christ. To put on display what that looks like! We are called to put on display what this new humanity birthed out of Jesus’ death and resurrection is all about, NOW!
1.This week I want you to look at these texts not individually as is all too often done. I want you to look at these next three passages in their original communal meaning, which scholars today see that Paul actually intended them to be read in:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, THE NEW CREATION [the Bar Enasha] has come: The old has gone, the NEW is here! (2 Corinthians 5.17)
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is THE NEW CREATION [the Bar Enasha]. (Galatians 6.15)
By setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself ONE NEW HUMANITY out of the two, thus making peace. (Ephesians 2.15)
This is not to exclude the truth that Jesus makes each one of us “new” as we continue to encounter what He and His Kingdom are all about. Certainly, He does that for us personally. These texts are specifically referring to the communal nature of the new creation, the new humanity, the “new community” so to speak of which Daniel’s “Bar Enasha” foretold, and that Jesus death gave birth to: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12.24)
I want you to consider what you looked at last week in Matthew 5-7, where Jesus describes what his Kingdom, which he had come to establish, would be all about. Make the connection in your hearts that this “Kingdom” IS the Bar Enasha, this new humanity, which claims Jesus as their King, and reigns alongside with him; “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5.10, emphasis added. Cf. Daniel 7.13-14, 27. Remember “reigning” in Jesus’ Kingdom is a radically different type of reigning than the reigning that the Empires of this world practice.)
2.Meditate on the following four passages this week concerning the literal, physical return of Jesus, and write down any insights Jesus may give you as you look at each one:
[Jesus] who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3.21, emphasis added)
Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every [competing] ruler and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15.25, emphasis added)
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. (Luke 19.12, emphasis added)
As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3.12, emphasis added)
3.Be prepared to share with your HeartGroup not only what you just wrote down but also, according to the Sermon on the Mount, what you perceive this New Humanity, this Bar Enasha, to be about. Remember, it is Jesus’ first coming that gave birth to the coming of the Bar Enasha whose coming in turn gives birth to Jesus’ return, cause and effect.
Remember, the Bar Enasha, Jesus’ Kingdom, is a radical new way of doing life. This new way of doing life is based on a radically new picture of the character of God, a radical change in how we view ourselves, as well as a radical change in how we see everyone else around us. Jesus gave us a way to heal our world. The only alternative, according to Jesus’ parables, is annihilation, but we are not there yet. There is still hope. Jesus would not have come had there not been. There is still work to do. This world is right where WE belong. This is our home, given back to use through the death and resurrection of Jesus. (See Revelation 21-22.) And we are called to put on display the coming of the Bar Enasha, the coming of this new humanity rooted in the person and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are called to invite all who are willing to be a part of this revolution. In a phrase, we are called to “enlarge the Kingdom” that arrived with Jesus’ first coming, so that Jesus as King can return to shepherd this new humanity at his second.
In the upcoming weeks, we will be looking at Jesus’ two alternative “end of the world” scenarios. This world is set on a collision course with death. But Jesus gave us a way out. Jesus, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, gave us a way to heal our world, if we will only listen. We’ll get to that subject in the upcoming weeks. Until then, keep living in love (Ephesians 5.1-2), keep loving like Jesus and keep enlarging the Kingdom! The Bar Enasha has come, and if you are willing, you are welcome and invited to be a part.
I love you guys. Now go build the Kingdom. Long live the Bar Enasha!
I’ll see you all next week.