A: You're right; not everyone believed in Jesus during His time on earth, although they saw His miracles and heard His teaching. Many did believe — but others didn't, and some of them even turned against Him and urged the authorities to put Him to death.
Why didn't they believe? For the same reason some people today don't believe, although they've heard the Bible's message that God loves them, and that Christ died to give them new life, both now and forever. The problem is inside of us — in the stubbornness of our hearts and wills. We want to run our own lives — and we know that if we yield ourselves to Christ, we can't keep on living the way we once did. Like the rebellious men in one of Jesus' parables, we declare, "We don't want this man to be our king" (Luke 19:14).
In reality, of course, people today come up with all kinds of excuses not to believe in Jesus or yield their lives to Him — just as they did in Jesus' time. Pride ... a particular sin ... doubt ... peer pressure ... these and countless other excuses keep Jesus out of our lives. But it doesn't have to be that way, because He alone offers us lasting hope in the midst of a world of despair and sin.
Don't let these things — or anything else — keep you from Christ. Instead, realize who He is and what He has done for you by His death and resurrection. Then by faith open your heart and life to Him. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Q: My parents are committed atheists, but last Easter some friends took me to church. It was the first time I'd ever been to a church service, and I admit I actually liked it. But do Christians really believe Jesus rose from the dead? That's hard for me to swallow. — P.F.
A: Someday, I hope you'll read the accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible — and when you do, you'll discover that at first His followers also had a hard time believing He rose from the dead.
I think, for example, of Thomas, who had been with Jesus almost from the beginning of His ministry. But after Jesus was executed, Thomas became bitter and discouraged. Even when reports reached him that Jesus' grave was empty and some of His followers had seen Him, Thomas refused to believe it. He knew that death was the end, and it was impossible for anyone to come back to life. He declared, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it" (John 20:25).
But in time Thomas became a believer — because Jesus came to him and showed him that He had indeed come back from the grave, by the power of God. Thomas' life was changed, and he spent the rest of his life telling others about Jesus.
In spite of your background, I believe God is giving you a hunger for Himself — and I pray you won't ignore it. God is not only real, but He loves you and wants you to come to know Him in a personal way. And He has made this possible by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Begin your spiritual journey by asking Him to come into your life today.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.