The Son of Man Leads

scribe.2I am reading this week the Third Passion Prediction in Matthew 20:17-19.  In doing so I take note of the context of the three passion predictions (16:21-23; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). The first instance is an indirection quotation where it says “he must go to Jerusalem…”, but the second and third are in direct quotation and he refers to himself as the Son of Man.

I looked up the 23 quotations of the Son of Man in Matthew and found that the name is associated with Authority and Humility. The Authority passages have to do with his present authority over forgiveness of sins, and the Sabbath (9:6, 12:8).  These also reference his authoritative future return (13:41; 16:27; 24:27,30,37,39). The Humility passages refer to his present unassuming appearance (8:20; 16:13) and his betrayal and death (12:40; 17:9,12, 22; 20:18) which serve as a ransom (20:28).

In the passion predictions Jesus calls for a kind of follower-ship that accepts humility:  To “deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” (16:24); “whoever would be great among you must be your slave” (20:27).  The pattern of being a follower includes the pattern of Jesus life – suffering first, reward later. Greatness is achieved by service.  Or as Jesus said,  “the last will first and the first last” (19:30; 20:16).

Among the nations rulers lord it over the people.  James and John longed for the best seats, to the left and right of Jesus in his Kingdom, so that they could be first and second in line and lord it over all the rest.  Grasping for power leads to resentment as we see in the response of the others. “And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.”

And so in this season leading up to Good Friday and Easter consider that this came about as “Jesus was going up to Jerusalem” (20:18), “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (20:28).

Psalm 146: An observation on three Translations.

Ps 146.3 

NIV – 84

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.


Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.


Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

Ps 146:5

NIV – 84

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,


Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.


Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,


I am comparing two verses from Psalm 146 in the old NIV, the New NIV and the ESV.


  • The term “son of man” is changed to” human beings” in the New NIV and “mortal men” in the Old NIV.  You see that both try to contemporize an expression to present English.  “son of man” is awkward, and also makes some confusion with the use of that phrase as a title for Jesus.  ESV retains the word for word translation, which is clear with some thought.
  • V. 4 says that such a person goes to the earth.  In Hebrew “man” is “adam” and “earth” is “adamah”.  The pun is lost in all English translations.  However the allusion to Genesis is clear when one remembers that Adam was made of the dust of the earth.
  • The singular “he” is changed in the New NIV to a plural pronoun.  This was also the method used with several others: NRSV, NLT,  Contemporary.  One of the interesting things in Psalm 146 is the interplay between singular and plural.  “Hallelujah” which is a plural command, “Let us praise the LORD”.  The this changes quickly to the singular in verse 2 , “I will praise the Lord.”   The Beatitude of v. 5 is individual, and seems to call for a personal response.

Overall, an argument can be made for each. I benefit by comparing either NIV to the ESV.  For study with colored pencils and observation of words, I like ESV.  For readability, the NIVs are both smoother.  As one instructor said, “every translation is also a commentary.”