When Dr. Billy Graham preached in the Los Angeles Coliseum during the 25-day 1963 Crusade, he personally preached to 910,000 people. I have a picture of that crusade crowd on my desk. As we continue to honor this great man of God, I can’t help but wonder what he was thinking, as he looked over the momentous crowd.
We read in God’s Word that when Jesus looked out over the multitude of people, He saw them “as sheep not having a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34) That was an amazing statement, because sheep can be dumb and helpless without a shepherd. Jesus saw the people, just wandering aimlessly through life, having no direction and no security. He was describing a very needy and defenseless society, many of whom had wounds that required physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing!
We read in this verse that when Jesus looked out upon the multitude, He was “moved with compassion for them.” He did not criticize them; he did not judge them; he did not reject them. Rather, there was such a movement of compassion from within Him, that love surged out of Him to meet the needs of the people. It is called agape, and it is the God-force from within that moves one to action.
So what would Jesus do, when so moved with compassion? Would He give the multitude money? Would He encourage them to go to school? Would He suggest a better occupation? On this occasion, this Scripture says, “So Jesus began to teach them many things.” Jesus began to preach “truth” to the multitude. You see, as only light dispels darkness, it is only truth that dispels deception. It is only in knowing the truth that mankind is set free. It is only in seeing life through the lens of truth that one can see clearly. It is only in receiving truth, that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing come.
What is truth? Truth is not what I say it is. Truth is not what you think it is. Truth is what the Word of God declares it to be. Jesus prayed to the Father while on earth, “Sanctify them with Your truth; Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17) Truth is the same for all people, at all times, in every generation. Truth is constant; it does not change. Facts change; truth does not change. And truth is the only antidote for the deceptive lies that so permeate our society.
What is the answer for the multitudes in our society who are wandering as helpless, hopeless sheep without a shepherd? It is the truth of God’s Word.
When one is headed off a cliff, when one is going in the wrong direction, when one is facing eternity without a Savior, he needs to hear truth. May every impressionable child hear the truth of God’s Word from parents, grandparents, and care givers. May every wayward teenager hear the truth of God’s Word from youth leaders, coaches and team leaders. May every seeking congregation in every church in America hear the truth of God’s Word from every pastor! We thank God that Dr. Billy Graham always faithfully shared the truth of God’s Word without compromise.
Jim Vaught is minister at Calvary Assembly of God in Mount Airy.