The Gospels refer to and explain the Book of Daniel numerous times. The title Jesus chose for himself, the Son Of Man, was one of those references. This is the first part of a 3 part series on Jesus and the Book of Daniel.
When Jesus interpreted the law, he primarily used Deuteronomy. When he spoke of his earthly ministry, he primarily used Isaiah. And when he spoke of eschatology, he primarily referenced Daniel. There are so many references in the Gospels to Daniel it will take us three installments to discuss them all.
Jesus and the Book of Daniel
Those references begin with the title: Son of Man. When Jesus called himself by this title, he was referring to this verse:
I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, one like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. (Dan. 7:13-14)
So every time Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man, he was equating himself with this prophecy from Daniel of the “Great Cloud Rider,” who the Jews believed to be the Messiah and a divine figure. In fact, it was this claim that lead to his crucifixion:
And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (Matt. 26:63-66)
Yet this was not the first time Jesus made this claim. Jesus refers to himself by this title 32 times in Matthew, 30 times in Luke, 15 times in Mark, and 14 times in John. It may likely have been the first time the High Priest heard it, however.
Jesus built a great deal of his eschatological thoughts around this reference to Dan. 7:13-14. And by using this title of the “Great Cloud Rider,” he told us of events that happen at that time:
For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt. 24:27)
And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. (Matt. 24:30)
From this we learn that Jesus’s return will be sudden and glorious. All people will see him. It is also a day where both the righteous are saved and the wicked are punished.
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt 24: 37-39)
But on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:29-30)
From these passages we learn that on the exact same day that Jesus comes on the clouds in glory, the righteous will be taken to safety (as were Noah and Lot) and the unrepentant will be left to face judgment.
It is also the day of the First Resurrection from the dead.
He (The Father) gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:27-29)
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. (Matt. 16:27)
Jesus also used this title to show himself receiving power over all of the Kingdoms and sitting on “his glorious throne.”
And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28)
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-32)
Jesus also made many references to specific chapters in Daniel
Throughout Jesus’s ministry, he made many references to “The Kingdom,” or the “The Kingdom of God,” or the “The Kingdom of Heaven.” These are all references to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the Metal Statue.
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15)
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. (Dan. 2:44)
Jesus also referred to stone not cut by human hands from Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream.
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust. (Matt. 21:43-44)
You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. (Dan. 2:34-35)
Jesus also referred to Nebuchadnezzar’s “other” dream about the great tree.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. (Matt. 13:31-32)
Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches. (Dan. 4:12)
In this way, Jesus was explaining that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the Great Tree was not only speaking of Nebuchadnezzar, but also about the Kingdom of Heaven. He was implying that it would also be “cut down” for a 7 year period of time.
As we have already pointed out, Jesus’s favorite reference was to Daniel 7. The climax of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:30-31) make two references to Daniel 7:
And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matt. 24:30-31)
Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. (Dan. 7:2)
Behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming. (Dan. 7:13)
This is clear proof that Dan. 7 and the coming of Jesus in Matt. 24 are both speaking of the same events.
Jesus also referred to Dan.7 when giving his disciples the Great Commission:
Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:18-19)
And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom. (Dan. 7:14)
This is the first of a three part series on Jesus’s references to the Book of Daniel. In this first installment, we see that Jesus’s primary reference was to Dan. 7:13-14. He identified himself as the “Son of Man” who will come on the clouds of heaven in great glory. Making this reference was the statement that led to his crucifixion.
In the second installment in this series we will look at a fascinating theory: that the account of Daniel in the Lion’s Den was a foreshadow of Jesus’s Death and Resurrection! Stay tuned.