Full text of renowned evangelist Billy Graham’s famous sermon titled “Who is Jesus” delivered at Chicago’s convention center in McCormick Place in June 1971.
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Billy Graham – Evangelist
I’m going to ask that we all bow our heads in prayer. Every head bowed and every eye closed. For many thousands of people here today, this will be an hour of decision, and you will never be the same today.
Even if you refuse Christ, you’ll never be the same. Once you’ve faced him, once you’ve heard the gospel and rejected it, you can never be the same. It says: “When the rich young ruler rejected Christ, he turned away grieved, emotionally disturbed”, because when you reject the claims of Christ, that’s a very serious thing.
It will be an hour of decision for many of you who receive him today. Your life will never be the same; your home will never be the same.
So let’s listen carefully and prayerfully today and reverently to the message of the Word of God. Shall we pray?
Our Father, we thank thee for this love of God that reaches around the world and engulfs all of mankind. Thou dost love the Russians and the Chinese as much as Thou dost love the British, all the Americans, all the African. Thou dost love the whole world. Thou didst send Thy Son to die for the whole world. And we’re all included in Thy Redemption plan. And we thank Thee that at this hour of history we can stand and proclaim good news that God is love, and that God is willing to forgive.
We pray that many this day will receive that message, accept it and act on it and live by it for we ask it in his name. Amen.
We’ve been having a marvelous time here in Chicago. I think Cliff has already told you how big this building is. There’s no indoor arena in the world except the Astrodome in Houston, Texas that’s bigger than this. And here today thousands of people, just about filled to capacity today, as it has been almost every night during this crusade, except I think the opening night.
But we’ve had gigantic crowds that have come here to this great arena, night after night, and we’ve seen thousands of people coming forward to make their commitment to Christ.
Now today I want you to turn with me to Luke’s Gospel, the 11th chapter… the 11th chapter of Luke’s Gospel beginning with verse 29… beginning with verse 29, I hope you have your Bibles. How many have a Bible today, lift them up? Look at the Bible, thousands of Bibles everywhere.
Now the Eleventh chapter and the 29th verse of Luke’s gospel (Luke 11: 29-32)
“And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say ‘This is an evil generation. They seek a sign, and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah, the Prophet. For as Jonah was a sign unto Nineveh, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. And behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And behold, a greater than Jonah is here.’”
Now ancient Israel wanted Jesus to do something sensational to prove that he was really the Son of God. But Jesus is saying in this passage: You’re seeking for a sign. All right, I’ll give you a sign; I am the sign.
And Jesus was saying that the people of Jonah’s day listened to the message of God and repented and they’re going to rise up at the judgment as witnesses against the people of Jesus’ day that rejected him.
He said the Queen of the South recognized the wisdom of Solomon, but he said, in me you have a greater wisdom than all the wisdom of Solomon. He said you’re blind, you cannot see the truth; you’re deaf and you cannot give the truth. He said I’m the truth; I’m the light of the world; I’m the sign.
Now when you face Jesus, what is your reaction? When you’re confronted with Jesus Christ, what is your reaction? The reaction of the Scribes and the Pharisees was one of hostility. The people of Nineveh’sday were humbled and repented when they faced and confronted God.
And the question that we all ask today is this question: What think ye of Christ?
There’s a rock opera at the moment called Jesus Christ, the Superstar. All over the country thousands of young people are talking about Christ; they can’t escape him.
There’s a Broadway play right now entitled God-spell, a musical version of Saint Matthew’s Gospel. There’s a new movie right now called Brother John in which Sidney Poitier plays Jesus Christ in the form of an Alabama black man.
The front cover of Life magazine a few weeks ago ran Jesus Christ Superstar. And this rock opera from England was confronting young people with one question: Who is Jesus Christ? An 87 minute long electronic probe into the life of Jesus. Who is Jesus? And the opera concludes with the voice of Judas, coming back from the dead and still questioning who Jesus is: “Don’t get me wrong,” says Judas in the Opera, “I only want to know.”
And then the haunting chorus follows: “Jesus Christ, Superstar!”
Do you think you’re what they say you are? Jesus Christ, do you think you are what they say you are?
It’s interesting to me that in 1971, the plays, the books, the operas, the movies about Jesus. Our generation cannot escape Jesus, and when Good News for Modern Man came out a new translation of the New Testament by the American Bible Society, they sold 25 million copies.
We cannot escape Jesus. I’ve never heard of an opera or a play, even about Buddha or Mohammed, or Gandhi, but our generation has become hung up on Jesus. Young people are talking about Jesus. He’s the subject of conversation today on the campus, in the high schools. Everywhere young people are discussing Jesus Christ and they’re asking the question: Who is he? Who is this Jesus? We cannot escape you.
You remember that day when Saul who was persecuting Christians was on the road to Damascus, and a blinding light came, and he fell down. And the first question he asked was: Who art Thou, Lord? The question that our generation of young people on the campus are asking today is: who are thou, Lord?
Who is Jesus? Why cannot we escape him? Why is he in our conscience and in our mind so that our plays and our poems and our operas are about him?
Is he just a revolutionary hero? Why is he something more? He only lived 33 years. He never travelled more than a hundred miles. He never had any formal education, and yet 2,000 years later, an entire generation is talking about Jesus Christ.
Some say that he was a madman. Some of the people of his day said he was mad, said he was a maniac. Was he?
There were others that said he was revolutionary. He’d come the lead a revolution? Was he a revolutionary? In the sense that he changed men’s lives, he was; but he never led a revolution against Rome. He never led a revolution against the existing authorities. As a matter of fact, some of them tried to get him to, and some of them thought he was going to.
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