Is Easter or Christmas more important? According to renowned evangelist Billy Graham, both are equally important and equally necessary, because without Christmas, there would be no Easter-and without Easter, Christmas wouldn't matter.
In his nationally syndicated column published Thursday, the 98-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association responded to a reader who asked which holiday is more significant in the life of a Christian.
Christmas is important because on that day, we celebrate the fact of Christ's coming into the world, Graham explained.
"He was born as a helpless baby to a poor woman and her husband in an insignificant part of the Roman Empire. And yet that baby was different from every other baby who had ever been born, or ever would be born-for He was God in human flesh. From all eternity He was God-but on that first Christmas He entered time, and He walked among us. As the Bible says, 'The Word was God... [and] the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us' (John 1:1, 14)."
Easter is equally important, however, because we celebrate the reason for Christ's coming into the world, said Graham.
"We have rebelled against God, and as a result our lives are enslaved by evil and sin and death," he said. 'But Christ came into the world to free us from all these-and He did this by dying on the cross for our sins and then conquering death by His resurrection from the dead. Because of His death and resurrection, we can have hope-hope for our lives right now, and hope for all eternity."
In an earlier "My Answers" column, Graham explained that both Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the dead are equally important for our salvation and 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!"
Why is this? The reason is because our greatest need is to be forgiven of our sins, Graham said.
"Sin separates us from God, and until we're forgiven and cleansed of our sins, we have no hope of eternal life in heaven. But we can't cleanse ourselves of our sins, no matter how hard we try-and that's why we need Christ. He was without sin, but on the cross all our sins were placed on Him, and He took the judgment we deserve. In other words, on the cross Jesus became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins."
By His resurrection, Jesus broke the power of sin and death and hell and Satan-and now we no longer need to fear what lies beyond the grave, Graham said. "Jesus' resurrection confirmed that God accepted His sacrifice, and by putting our faith and trust in Him we will be saved," the evangelist conclude.d
In an op-ed, Dr. Ray Pritchard, president of Keep Believing Ministries, an Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries, shared his thoughts on Christmas and Easter and further explained why Christians should view the two holidays as equally significant.
"If Easter had not happened, Christmas would have no meaning," he explained. "If the tomb is not empty, the cradle makes no difference. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then he really is just a misguided Jewish rabbi with delusions of grandeur. If Easter is not true, then Christmas is only the story of an obscure baby born in an out-of-the-way village in a forgotten land 2000 years ago. It is Easter that gives Christmas its meaning."