Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog


By Richard P Bailey

Some people ask, “If Jesus is God, as you Christians claim, why didn’t he say so clearly?”  Others say, “Show me one place in the Bible where Jesus said, ‘I am God’ and I will believe it.”  Still others believe that the Bible does not say Jesus is God, but over zealous Christians have simply exaggerated things to the point of deifying him.

It does seem strange that Jesus appeared to hide himself and avoid public exposure as much as possible. Even his own family found his behavior strange, since they assumed he was trying to become a famous “public figure”:

But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.  No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret.  Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’  For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:2-5)

So what is the truth about Jesus?

Let’s first look at what Jesus said about His own identity:


1.  Jesus Very Seldom Revealed His Full Identity:


Jesus never said clearly in so many words, "I am God!"  But He did say it indirectly:

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’  They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he now say, “I came down from heaven”?’” (John 6:41,42)

“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’  At this, they picked up stones to stone him…” (John 8:58)

[Note: “I Am” is the name God used for Himself when He spoke to Moses.  Stoning was the punishment for blasphemy prescribed in the Mosaic Law.]

(Jesus prayed) “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:4,5)

[ For more about the deity of Christ see the article entitled,


Jesus never stood in the open market declaring publicly, "I am the Messiah!"  He did say it privately to the Samaritan woman, and He did not deny it when the Jews demanded He declare whether or not He was the Messiah:

The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’  Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” (John 4:25,26)

The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’  ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.” (Matthew 26:63,64)

[Note: “Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew, “Messiah”]


Jesus almost never called Himself a prophet.  Here is the one time mentioned:

And they took offense at him.  But Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’  And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” (Matthew 13:56-58)


Jesus very seldom called Himself “the Son of God.”  He did not deny it when the Jews demanded that He say clearly whether or not He was the Son of God:

“‘If you are the Christ,’ they said, ‘Tell us.’  Jesus answered, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer.  But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.’  They all asked, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’  He replied, ‘You are right in saying I am.” (Luke 22:67-70).

Many people spoke to Jesus calling Him the “Son of God” and He never denied it.  Here are a few examples:

He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!  He’s the King of Israel!  Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  He trusts in God.  Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’” (Matthew 27:42,43)

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32,33)

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg you, don’t torture me!’  For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man.” (Luke 8:28,29)

Jesus certainly implied He was the Son of God by repeatedly calling God His "Father" [117 times are recorded in the New Testament].

He Himself almost never called Himself the “Son of God” (see the only four examples below):

“… Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son.’?” (John 10:36)

I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:25)

When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’” (John 11:4)


Instead, He constantly referred to Himself as, “The Son of Man” (more than 50 times), and, on the face of it, the most obvious meaning of “Son of Man” is an average human being and a descendant of Adam.

2.  Furthermore, Jesus Forbid Those Who Recognized His Full Identity to Tell Anyone:

a) His disciples:

‘But what about you? Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!’ ... Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:15,16,20; see also Mark 8:29,30)

b) The demons:

“... He also drove out many demons, but He would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” (Mark 1:34; see also verses 24,25)

Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him, and cried out, 'You are the Son of God.' But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.” (Mark 3:11,12)

Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, 'You are the Son of God!' But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew He was the Christ.” (Luke 4:41)

c) Those He healed:

“... and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.” (Matthew 12:15,16)

Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, ‘See that you don't tell anyone ...’” (Matthew 8:3,4)

Immediately the (dead) girl stood up and walked around. At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this.” (Mark 5:42,43)

3.  Jesus Refused to Prove His Identity When He Was Challenged to Do So:

a) By Satan:

If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread ... If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down ...” (Matthew 4:3,6)

b) By the common people:

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘... Save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God.’” (Matt. 27:39,40)

c) By the chief priests, teachers and elders:

He saved others, but he can't save himself!  He's the King of Israel!  Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him ... for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ (Matthew 39:41-43)

4. Jesus Usually Spoke to The People in Parables:

“Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: 'I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’” (Matthew 10:34,35)



1.  Because Jesus Knew That His Identity Is Beyond Human Understanding, and Is Revealed Only to Believers Who Are Enabled By God to Search For This Truth:

If Messiah Jesus has stood on the corner and proclaimed, “I am God!  Worship me!”  How many people do you think would have believed him and worshiped him?

a) There are two things about Christ which a person can understand only as God reveals them:

1) Who Jesus Really is:

Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ ... ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in Heaven.’” (Matthew 16:15-17)

2) The True Meaning of What Jesus Did on The Cross:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing … The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14)

b) Jesus Reveals Himself Only to Those Who Truly Love Him:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest [reveal] myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’” (John 14:21-23)

c) This is How God Reveals Jesus to Those Who Truly Love Him:

i) God’s Holy Spirit Supernaturally Reveals this Secret Wisdom About Christ to Us:

‘No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’ ... no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit ... we have … received ... the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-13)

ii) Jesus is Supernaturally Revealed to Us Through the Word of God:

these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31; see also John 5:39,40; Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:4,5)

iii) True Believers Are Supernaturally Enabled by The Father to Receive Christ:

All that the Father gives me will come to me ... No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him ... This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6:37,44,65)

2.  Because He Did Not Want People To Be Distracted From His Basic Purpose And Message:

Jesus’ reason for coming to earth the first time was to become a complete and perfect human being just like us, so that he could be our substitute in paying the full penalty for our sin.  He was not looking for people to worship or honor Him.  Instead, He wanted people to accept Him as a perfect man who had come to be their Savior from the disastrous results of their sins.  Showing people that He was God, the King of Israel or a great prophet would only distract them from this purpose.  When Christ comes back again He will come to be exalted and honored as King and Lord of Lords.

the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

… Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:13,14)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)

3.  Because Jesus Knew Many People Have So Hardened Their Hearts And Surrendered To Satan, That They Could Not Recognize Who He Really Is And Why He Came:

The disciples came to him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables?' He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them ... This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes ...”’” (Matthew 13:10-11,13-15)

He [Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own (Israel), but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10,11)

The god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the good news of the glory of Christ …” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7,8)



“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29)

“... He brings hidden things to light.” (Job 28:11)

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)

“Truly you are a God who hides himself.” (Isaiah 45:15)

“From now on, I will teach you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.” (Isaiah 48:6)

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:22)

“It is written in the prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’” (John 6:45)

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence of superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified ... My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words ... not the wisdom of this age ... we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden ...” (1 Corinthians 2:1-8)

“... that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ... the mystery of Christ ...” (Colossians 2:2,3; 4:3; see also 1:26,27)