EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was first published on Dec. 24, 2014. Rev. Billy Graham died on Feb. 21, 2018.
Pastor Billy Graham, the most influential evangelical preacher of the last 60 years, said in a Christmas message to employees of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) that Christmas is about much more than what “we see and hear on the radio and television” because the “whole thing is about Jesus,” adding that when he looks into the Christmas manger, he sees “the greatest teacher that will ever live.”
“I came here to just say two words: Merry Christmas!” said Pastor Graham during a Dec. 22, 2010 visit with BGEA employees in Charlotte, N.C., which was posted on YouTube. “But I want to say there’s so much more to Christmas than what we see and hear on the radio and television. The whole thing is about Jesus.”
“When I look into that crib, I see the greatest teacher that will ever live,” said Graham, whose preaching over the decades reached an estimated 2.2 billion people worldwide. “And the only way that we can ever get to Heaven is through Him and His sacrifice on the Cross.” He then quoted from Galatians, in the New Testament, “Paul said, God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
Commenting further, Billy Graham said, “[O]n this Christmas season, when the world seems to be in turmoil, wars are breaking out in different places, crime is rampant, many things are happening that are great sins in the sight of God -- but in that crib is the person who grew up to save us, and He did.”
The Nativity. (Fra Angelica)
“And when He died on that Cross and suffered as few men have ever suffered, we thank God we have that great privilege of having Him in our hearts,” said the pastor, who started preaching at tent revivals in the 1940s. “We receive Him as our savior and He has changed our lives.”
“I thank God for all of you, and I’m thankful for the work that you do and the help that you give us in the ministry we believe God has called us to do,” said Graham in his closing remarks. “I want to say to all, a blessed Christmas and a Merry Christmas.”
Then, in a message to the whole world, facing the video camera, he says, “Merry Christmas to everyone and God bless you and your family.”
Pastor Graham is 96 and his son, Rev. Franklin Graham, said in a recent interview that his father was “doing pretty good,” and that “his mind is still clear, still engaged.” Billy Graham still lives at his mountain home in Montreat, N.C. His wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007.
In the video posted below in this story is a clip of a younger Billy Graham, preaching at one of his many rallies during the 1980s, where he speaks about deciding to choose Christ before it is too late.
“Every person that ever lived has to make the same choice,” says Billy Graham in the clip. “It’s either the world and its pleasures and its gods – or it’s Christ. Which is it for you? Who are you choosing? Who are you voting for?”
The Holy Family: Mary, Jesus, and Joseph.
“Choosing rather to suffer the affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Oh yes, there’s pleasure in sin for a short time. But it’s soon over,” he says. “The hangover comes. And there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s going to be there.”
He then said, “Choose Christ and there will never be a hangover except joy and peace. And it’s an urgent decision because to delay makes the right decision harder. Indecision in itself is a choice. Not to decide is to decide not to.”
“If you have a ticket for a flight to Atlanta tonight and can’t decide whether to go or not, if you wait past the departure time, the choice will have been made,” said Pastor Graham. “The plane will take off without you. Decisions are made whether we make them or not. Time decides if you will not. And time always decides against you.”
Billy Graham is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He earned a diploma in Biblical Studies from Florida Bible Institute and a B.A. in Anthropology from Wheaton College. He married Ruth Bell in 1943 and started preaching at large outdoor tent revivals in the 1940s and 1950s.
Billy Graham has five children, 19 grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren. He is the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He is the author of 31 books, is regularly listed among Gallup’s most admired people in the world, and was awarded the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 2000.
Graham, in 1967, was the first Protestant to receive an honorary degree from Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic school.