The news of the passing of Billy Graham reverberated around the world. Peter and I were honoured to attend the funeral of this great man who God used to bless literally millions of people with the good news of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the flight over to the USA, different people remarked to us that they felt the world was a lonelier place without him. But Billy Graham never craved accolades or attention for himself, unless he could use it to point people to his Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He was a man who connected with all people, of all colours and classes. The Trumps and Pences were at his funeral. But his simple coffin was handcrafted by Louisiana prison inmates. It was their names burned into the pine plywood casket that they had made.
At the funeral, Reverend Billy Kim, chairman of the Far East Broadcasting Company in South Korea, related a conversation he had with Billy Graham. He recalled Billy Graham saying,
Many people want to talk to me about themselves and what they’ve done. But the one we should want to talk about is Jesus, and all that he has done”.
It’s not that Billy Graham didn’t care deeply for people. His did not have a pious faith devoid of humility and kindness. This showed clearly when Billy Graham’s youngest daughter Ruth shared at the funeral about going home to her parents after her second marriage failed. She wondered what her parents would say because they had warned her against the marriage. She also hated the thought of embarrassing her father. But as she drove up the long driveway, she saw him waiting for her at the top of the driveway. This is what Ruth said at the funeral, “He said, ‘Welcome home.’ There was no shame. There was no blame. There was no condemnation, just unconditional love. My father wasn’t God but he showed me what God was like”.
Oldest son and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin Graham, closed his father’s funeral by repeating Billy Graham’s central theme: that the only path to salvation is to accept Jesus Christ. Millions of people once again heard this message of salvation as the funeral was livestreamed around the world.
The US media were also there in force and reported much of what occurred, including the messages of a saving God. But some newspapers described Franklin’s invitation to follow Jesus as containing a “barb” – “The world, with all its political correctness, would want you to believe that there are many roads to God. It’s just not true.”
This comment by media perhaps reveals just how much the world has changed since a young Billy Graham attracted record crowds at the MCG in Melbourne. It is now offensive to the mainstream Australian media for a Christian leader to claim that Jesus is the only way to God.
Despite being offensive to some, the message that Franklin Graham gave is absolutely correct. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. And no–one comes to God except through Him. That message is as relevant today as it always has been. May God give us the grace and courage to share this life-giving news with the same commitment as his servant Billy Graham.
“The Psalmist David wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” Here is the trumpet of hope that has echoed down through every cemetery of the world; it has made the experience of death not a bitter end, but a bright dawning”
– Billy Graham