The 97-year-old evangelical leader Billy Graham responded to a reader's question, "If Jesus was really God, does this mean that God somehow died or ceased to exist when Jesus was put to death on the cross?"
Graham responds by saying: "No, God did not die or cease to exist when Jesus was put to death on the cross. He was truly God in human form — fully God and yet also fully man. And as a man his body could die, but not his divine nature, because God is eternal," in a recent blog post in the Kansas City Star.
Jesus' ability to be divine and eternal after human death is similar to what we as Christians will experience when we die, the renowned evagelist says.
Graham goes on to write that Jesus' death sets him apart from all humans in that he was able to rise from the dead.
"Jesus was different from every other human being who has ever lived or ever will live, because his body did not stay in the grave! By the power of God, the chains of death were broken, and Jesus rose again from the dead."
According to a 2015 Barna study, the vast majority of Americans believe Jesus was a real human who walked the earth. The study's results found that "nine out of 10 adults say Jesus Christ was a real person who actually lived."
This same poll also found that Americans differ in their opinion of whether Jesus lived without sin here on earth, with half of Americans (52 percent) saying they believe Jesus committed sins, and less than half (46 percent) saying they don't believe Jesus committed sins. Orthodox Christianity teaches that Jesus was sinless and died in place of humankind's sins.
As Graham teaches in an April post, Jesus Christ was able to live as a human here on earth and still be fully human but without sin.
"Jesus Christ is unlike any other person who ever lived — or ever will live. The reason is because he alone was both fully human and fully God. On that first Christmas a miracle took place that we can barely imagine: God came down from heaven and became a man. Jesus wasn't just like God. He was God, in human flesh," Graham writes.
Graham adds that because Jesus was without sin, he was able to take on our sins, as well as the guilt and judgment meant for us, when he died on the cross.
"[…] you and I are sinners, and our greatest need is to be forgiven and cleansed of our sins. But how is this possible? It's possible only because on the cross Jesus Christ — who was without sin — took upon himself the guilt and judgment that we deserve," the Baptist minister writes.