Even the best Bible scholars and Christian thinkers wrestle with the idea of God’s becoming a man. The perfect blending of deity and humanity in the person of Jesus is something beyond human understanding. When the Bible makes a difficult claim, we can either deny it or accept it and try to make sense of it. So does the Bible really claim that Jesus is God revealed in human flesh?
The Gospel of John says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (1:14). Who is this unique Son? Without question John is speaking of Jesus. The first verse of the book reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” If the Word is Jesus, then John is saying this: “In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.” The final verse in this same section of scripture (translated very accurately by the ESV) says that “no one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (v. 18).
The founder of Islam said that Jesus was a prophet. In the Bible there were only two kinds of prophets—true prophets and false prophets. Surely, Muhammad thought of Jesus as a true prophet. The ministries of true prophets varied in importance. For example, the prophet Oded played a minor role in biblical history (2 Chron. 28:9-15). But the prophet Moses played a vital role in Israel’s history (Num. 12:6-8). What all true prophets have in common is truth. They speak the truth in God’s name.
If Jesus is a true prophet, then he speaks the truth. Some months before his death, he was in the temple at Jerusalem. The Jewish authorities were debating him. As always, he had the upper hand. At one point he claimed to have known Abraham personally (a man who had lived 2,000 years earlier). The Jews were shocked. They said, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (John 8:57). The answer was even more shocking: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (v. 58). Jesus didn’t say, “Before Abraham was, I was.” This claim would have merely implied a great age. He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus was claiming eternal nature. God had introduced himself to Moses at the burning bush as “I am” (Exod. 3:13-14). The Jews immediately caught his meaning. They picked up rocks to stone him for blasphemy.
If Jesus is a true prophet, then he is eternal God in human flesh. If his claims of deity are false, then he is a false prophet. A liar. No one should listen to anything he says. And Muhammad shouldn’t encourage Muslims to listen to him.
If you have been taught something all your life, giving it up is very hard. But Jesus and Muhammad can’t both be right. They contradict each other. And Muhammad is in the weaker position. Jesus never contradicts himself. But Muhammad’s teachings are self-contradictory and therefore unsupported by reason.