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The Real Meaning of The Cross: Billy Graham (Transcript)

Full text of renowned evangelist Billy Graham’s sermon titled ‘The Real Meaning of The Cross’ which was delivered in Hartford, Connecticut in the year 1985.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Billy Graham – Evangelist

One of the television networks ran a series of five programs on the early days of Christianity. And they included the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. One of the most graphic pictures I have ever seen.

And among all the emblems of the world, none is admired, glorified and worshiped as the cross. It was the instrument of Christ’s suffering and death. And it’s also the instrument of our salvation.


The history of the cross is very interesting. Because it goes back to India, it goes back to China, long before Christ ever came. And the victim, as you know, was fastened to the cross by cords, or his hands were nailed and he was left to die. And the heat of the sun, the pull of his body, and the torture that he’d had before he was on the cross, it took sometimes, two and three days, and sometimes a week for a person to die on a cross.

The most terrible, the most awful, the most painful way to die that we can imagine.

But by the time of Constantine, in the fourth century, and he had become a Christian or a professing Christian, as an instrument of torture it had been abolished. And later Christian nations started to use the cross as a symbol of Christianity. It was embossed upon their chariots, upon whatever they had. And the cross became the symbol of everything that Christianity stood for.

And through such organizations as the Red Cross, it’s become an international sign of goodwill and help to other people.

Hebrews, the sixth chapter, it says,

Hebrews 6:4-6: ‘For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing that they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to open shame.’

Every time the gospel is proclaimed, those who hear the message and receive Christ as Savior, come by the way of the cross. But if you neglect or refuse God’s offer of love and mercy from the cross, you help crucify Jesus Christ.

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That’s the reason it’s wrong to say that the Jews crucified Christ as Christians said especially in the middle ages, and they used to – tried to make Jews converts at the end of a sword, or point a gun at their head, or a knife at their throat to try to make them converted, because they said they were Christ killers.

They did not kill Christ. You know who killed Christ? All of us. We all had a part in His death. Because His death was planned before the foundation of the world, because of sin.

And the Bible says, “we’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)


There are four dimensions of the cross that I think about when I talk about it.

I think about the BREADTH OF THE CROSS. The love of Christ is manifested in the cross of Christ, that includes everybody. God’s love extends to Africa, to Asia, to Latin America, to Russia, to China, to America, to Canada, to the whole world. It includes you, whoever you are, whatever your religion or if you have no religion. God loves you.

And He says from the cross, “I love you.”

Then there’s the LENGTH OF THE CROSS. It has no measure. It extends from eternity to eternity, from everlasting to everlasting. When Noah built the ark, do you know how long it was? 450 feet long.

When Solomon built the temple, you know how long it was? 60 cubits. If you build a shed for garden tools, you can measure the lumber with a ruler.

But how can you measure the end to end of God’s love in the cross?

The Bible says, Paul said that God’s love surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). There’s no way that our finite minds can even begin to understand the love of God that would give His Son on the cross to die for you. Because you and I deserve that death. We deserve hell and judgment.

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And then I think of the HEIGHT OF THE CROSS. It extends to the throne of God. It doesn’t matter how high heaven is. Through the cross, God draws all men to Him. And you have to make a decision about Jesus Christ.

Scientists are looking out into space further and further and further, but they can’t get away from God. The subject of astronomy and the subject of the space frontier is very exciting to me. There are scientists here tonight who know far more about the height of the universe than I can ever explain.

But heaven is out there somewhere. We don’t know exactly where. You say, “Do you believe heaven is a place?” Yes, I believe it’s a place. I believe I’m going to see the golden streets and walk on them.

And I believe I’m going to live in a… Well, I think I’ll live in a shack. Some of you will live in mansions. Yes, heaven is going to be a glorious place. And you cannot go beyond God’s love even in heaven.

And then the DEPTH OF GOD’S LOVE AND THE CROSS. You can fall to the very bottomless pit of sin and degradation, and you can live like an animal. You can be a murderer. You can be a rapist. You can be anything, but you can’t get beyond the love of God.

The cross covers to the very gates of hell. How deep is it? There are people today that are trying to find how deep they can go into the heart of the earth and how deep space is. They can’t get away from God.

Because as we study the depths of energy, we’re looking for unity. That’s one of the reasons they’re making that study in Illinois. And the Bible says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” (Romans 11:33) It can draw every sinner up to the exalted height of heaven.

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“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me,” said Jesus. (John 12:32)

Think of the cross a moment and think of His suffering for you and for me. It’s said that Jesus endured five basic wounds that medical science defines as:

First, Contusion, when they beat Him on the head, and tortured Him and put a crown of thorns on Him for you.

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