While the world offers its condolences at the loss of Billy Graham today, at age 99, I think I can speak for Christians and say that while we shed a tear in the passing of an icon, we secretly rejoice. We rejoice because of the sure hope of the salvation Billy Graham had in Jesus Christ.
But I have another emotion in the death of this faithful servant of the gospel: relief. I’m relieved because I saw him being helped to the pulpit after 9/11. And way back then, he was growing frail. I have felt a heaviness of heart for years at the thought of how aging must have further taken its toll on his body.
“While the world offers its condolences at the loss of Billy Graham today, at age 99, I think I can speak for Christians and say that while we shed a tear in the passing of an icon, we secretly rejoice. We rejoice because of the sure hope of the salvation Billy Graham had in Jesus Christ.”
I’m also relieved for his faithful son, Franklin, and his siblings, as they cared for their aging dad. But like millions of Christians who have been separated from their loved ones, they have the glorious hope that they will see their beloved father again. This wasn’t the end; it’s the beginning. Believers don’t sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). This was another faithful soldier of Christ, who was promoted to Headquarters. How can we not rejoice!
The liberal media now have a problem. Covering the death of Billy Graham will be a little awkward for them. This is such a big story, it can’t be ignored. In one sense, it’s like the passing of a president. Or it should be. They will have to say the right things, but at the same time they will try to separate the man from the message. That will be like trying to separate the sun from its light.
The first time I heard Billy Graham preach was on a radio broadcast. As I listened to his message, I felt a sense of excitement at his tone of voice. It carried an urgency. But what brought tears to my eyes was his insistence on keeping the gospel simple. He preached Christ crucified and the absolute necessity of the new birth.
“There is no way you can say his name without thinking of the cross of Jesus Christ. Now that’s a legacy.”
It’s not easy to get through this life squeaky clean when you’re in the public eye. Especially if you’re a Christian. The world will hate you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely (Matthew 5:11). And there is of course the “friendly fire” that comes from armchair critics. But Billy Graham did it: he remained morally unblemished. His name is synonymous with sincerity, humility, faithfulness, integrity, love, and kindness.
It thrills my heart to think of him hearing the words from His Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). May Billy’s influence be as big in his death as it was in his life. May many come to Christ through his testimony, because there is no way you can say his name without thinking of the cross of Jesus Christ. Now that’s a legacy.