Here Jesus is speaking intimately with his closest disciples:
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them... (Luke 9:18)And this is a continuation of that conversation. So it isn't as though Jesus is announcing this fact to the crowds. He is revealing something to his disciples so they will become prepared for what is to come.
Real meaning of "Son of Man"
First let's be clear that Jesus did not refer to himself as the "Son of Man." What is a "son of man"? Is there any meaning to this title or reference? No.
This phrase "son of man" has been translated from the Greek phrase, υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Let's translate this correctly:
υἱός (huios) can only refer to "son" in the limited context of a physical family relationship according to the lexicon. Outside of this it is "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." In this context - outside of a family context - it was frequently used to describe someone's subject or servant.
We know Jesus used this word in this manner, evidenced by these statements of his:
"The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom." (Matt. 13:38)
"Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?" (Luke 5:34)
"If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you." (Luke 10:6)These statements by Jesus - "people of the kingdom," "friends of the bridegroom," and "someone who promotes peace" - all utilize the word υἱός (huios). The word refers to someone who is a subject of something or someone - which can be described as a follower or even servant of that something or someone.
Thus these phrases could also be properly translated to "subjects [or followers] of the kingdom," "subjects [or followers] of the bridegroom," and "subjects [or followers] of peace." These can also be, within the cultural references of that time, "servants of the kingdom," "servants of the bridegroom," and "servant of peace" - as servants are not so common in our culture but were during that period, where practically any large household had at least one servant.
The word τοῦ means "of".
The word ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) means "man" or "mankind" or better "humanity" according to the lexicon and its popular usage.
Thus we can logically determine that the phrase υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου could only mean "servant of humanity" in common English. This is because certainly Jesus was not a follower of humanity. Nor was he a subject of humanity.
But the position of servant - this is the position Jesus considered for himself because he considered himself someone who was working for the welfare of humanity.
In fact, we find a similar expression used today for government employees or elected officials who will often refer to themselves as "servants of the people." This reference simply states that the person feels they are working for the welfare of those who elected or are employing them.
While Jesus was not elected by people or employed by people, he was appointed by the Supreme Being to serve for the welfare of people - by preaching about God and introducing people to the loving service of God.
Jesus being criticized and rejected by the Jewish priests and elders is evidenced within all four gospels. There is no dispute to this translation.
And Jesus' being eventually persecuted and murdered on the cross is documented elsewhere.
"on the third day be raised to life."
But what of this statement, "on the third day be raised to life." Is this correct?
First of all, the Greek texts do not refer to any words that might indicate "to life." This has been inserted by ecclesiastical translators who simply do not understand what Jesus is referring to. What was said was:
τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγερθῆναι
Let's break it down:
τρίτος (tritos) means "third"
ἡμέρα (hēmera) means "day" or "daytime" or a "used of time in general" according to the lexicon.
ἐγείρω (egeirō) means "to arouse," "to arouse from sleep," and "to awake," according to the lexicon. But it also means, "to cause to appear, bring before the public" according to the lexicon.
If we translate this literally, then, Jesus would either be saying "on the third day awaken" or "on the third day rise" or "on the third time appear" (or re-appear since he was appearing before them here).
Which is it and what does this mean? First let's consider what happened when Jesus' physical body died on the cross according to the gospels:
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)So what does "gave up his spirit" and "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" mean? They mean that Jesus' physical body died and Jesus' spirit-person left his physical body at the time of death.
This is evidenced by the fact that they carried Jesus' lifeless physical body to a tomb.
Now most sectarian teachers teach that Jesus' physical body "rose" from the dead. But if Jesus' physical body rose, why did Jesus' closest disciples not recognize him?
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 24:4)
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)Why couldn't they immediately realize it was Jesus if Jesus' physical body rose? Because Jesus was not appearing to them in his physical body. His spirit had already left the physical body. And for this reason, some of his students - those with spiritual vision - were able to recognize him while others could not:
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matt. 28:17)We also see more evidence that Jesus' disciples were given the ability to recognize Jesus' re-appearance from another sense:
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31)This is not a description of a physical body "rising" as promoted by ecclesiastical institutions and their professional teachers. If Jesus' physical body had "risen" then how could it then simply disappear from their sight?
And the phrase, "their eyes were opened" is not talking about the physical "eyes": Certainly their physical eyes were open unless they were sleep-walking or something. Rather, this use of "eyes" is metaphorical - it is referring to their spiritual eyes. The ability to see Jesus from a spiritual sense.
Jesus' physical body did not "rise"
The above scriptural evidence illustrates that Jesus' physical body certainly did not "rise." And as for his physical body being missing from the tomb:
The evidence - within the gospel texts and through recent archaeological evidence - is that the first tomb Jesus' physical body was taken to was a temporary tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea. Then his body was later taken to Jesus' family tomb. (See this video on the finding of Jesus' family tomb and Jesus' own ossuary.)
The Jewish law and custom at that time is that it was improper for a person to be put in a tomb not assigned to that person. Thus the immediate moving of his body to the proper tomb was consistent with Jewish law and custom.
Jesus predicted his appearance after his body died
So yes - Jesus did predict that after he left his physical body he would re-appear to his disciples and continue to teach them, specifically instructing them to continue his teachings - passing his message on to others:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son [υἱός = Servant] and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:19-20)And therein lies the purpose of Jesus' re-appearance to his closest disciples.
The reality is that Jesus' teachings clearly taught that we are not these physical bodies, but rather, are the spirit-persons within the physical body. Consider this clear statement by Jesus:
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)So we see here that someone can go to hell after the body is killed. Who is that person who can go to hell, if the body has been killed? It is the spirit-person who temporarily occupies that physical body.
This was a fundamental teaching of Jesus - one that was reflected throughout his life and teachings - as he dealt with people who were possessed by demons, and helped those who were sick or their bodies dead. Consider this description of the bringing back to life the daughter of Jairus:
Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (Luke 8:55)This certainly is describing what took place - and by the text prior, we know it was described either by Peter or John who were the only people there other than Jairus (whom Jesus told not to tell anyone). What is being described is that the spirit-person left that physical body at the time of death, and Jesus brought that spirit-person back into her body.
This teaching - that we are spirit and are not these physical bodies - was not only part of Jesus' teachings: It was one of the purposes for his re-appearance to them after his body was killed. And it was for this reason that his spiritual re-appearance was so important to his disciples.
To follow Jesus' teachings we must realize that we are not these physical bodies. These physical bodies are temporary vehicles. This is why the physical body is lifeless at the time of death. This is why it decomposes after we die. We leave our bodies at the time of death. This has been proven in hundreds of thousands of clinical death cases, when the revived person describes floating above the physical body looking down at it. Who is floating above the body? The spirit-person.
This is who we each are: spirit-persons. We are not these physical bodies.
And Jesus' message was teaching us to rise from our self-centered identification with this physical body and see into the spiritual realm. This is where the Supreme Person dwells, and that is the place where our happiness lies. Not in this temporary physical world of emptiness, suffering, greed and anxiety.
With this understood, we can offer a more precise translation of this statement by Jesus according to the Gospels of Jesus:
He told them the Servant of Humanity will suffer and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and will be killed, and will appear on the third day. (Luke 9:22)