As we approach Easter, many ponder the meaning of the holiday. Over the years, people have written Billy Graham concerning their questions about its significance. Here, we have chosen several of the most commonly asked questions about this observance—along with Billy Graham’s answers.
Q: I’ve never understood why people refer to the day that Jesus died as “Good Friday.” It seems to me that Jesus’ death was a great tragedy, because it brought the life of an innocent man to an end. What’s so good about that?
A: You’re right, up to a point; Jesus was innocent of any crime, and from a human standpoint He didn’t deserve to die. You also are right in saying that Jesus’ death was a great tragedy—for it was.
Q: Did Jesus realize that He was going to be arrested and put to death when He went to Jerusalem for the last time? It seems to me that He easily could have called on the crowds who supported Him to demand His release. Then He could have avoided what happened afterward. Why didn’t He?
A: Jesus probably could have incited them into action and thus avoided His arrest and death. But He didn’t—and the reason is because He knew He had come into the world to die for our sins. Shortly before going to Jerusalem, He warned His disciples that “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him” (Luke 18:32). Later He told the Roman governor, Pilate, “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world” (John 18:37).
Q: I have a friend who doesn’t bother with God or church most of the year, but as Easter approaches she suddenly gets religious—goes to church, observes Lent and so forth. Do you think she’s a real Christian, or is it all fake?
A: Only God knows your friend’s heart, and whether or not she sincerely wants to follow Jesus and has committed her life to Him. Perhaps a seed of faith was planted in her heart as a child, and as Easter approaches she senses a need to have it grow.
Q: In your opinion, which was more important, Jesus’ death on the cross or His resurrection from the dead? Some of us were talking about this the other day in our small group Bible study, and we couldn’t come to any conclusion.
A: Both Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead are equally important; they cannot be separated from each other. Without Jesus’ death, we have no hope of God’s forgiveness; and without Jesus’ resurrection, we have no hope of eternal life. Like the two wings of an airplane, both are essential!
Q: This Easter, I felt kind of a tug in my heart to give God a bigger place in my life. How do you suggest I go about doing this?
A: I’m thankful for that “tug” toward God you felt in your heart—and I want to assure you that it didn’t happen by chance. Instead, God gave it to you, and right now He is drawing you to Himself. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
Our prayer is that you can fully celebrate Easter—that is, celebrate what Jesus has done for you through His death on the cross and through His resurrection. Today, you can find peace with God through knowing Christ.