Billy Graham - Jesus Christ Superstar
Now today I want you to turn with me to Luke's Gospel the eleventh chapter. The eleventh 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 Bibles. Thousands of Bibles everywhere. Now the eleventh chapter and the 29th verse of Luke's Gospel, "And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, this is an evil generation. They seek a sign. And there shall be no sign 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 hear 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's day 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 "Godspell". A musical version of St. 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?
Well, we know some things about him. We know he was a man. Jesus was completely human. He was representative of man, because the Bible says he was identified, he was numbered with the transgressors. We know that he was hungry. We know he got thirsty. We know he got tired. We know that he had the joys of friendship. We know that he wept at the tomb of a dead loved one. We know that he had all of the characteristics of a man. And yet very interestingly, the Bible says that he never committed a sin. In fact he stood in front of the people of his generation and he said, "I've never committed a sin". He said, "Have any of you, my neighbors, ever seen me commit a sin"? They couldn't say a thing.
Now wouldn't that be something? For a man to come along, 33 years of age and say, "Who of you have ever seen me commit a sin"? Well I tell you, if I said that all my team would jump straight up and say, "I have". My wife's here. All of us are sinners. But Jesus was tempted in every point like as we are. He went through every temptation you've ever been through. There isn't a trial or a testing or a temptation that Jesus has not been through before you, and he resisted them and overcame them all. Everyone. He was a man. Just like you. But he was more than that. He claimed to be the unique, only begotten, incarnate Son of God.
In fact, he claimed pre-existence. The scriptures says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God". Before time began he existed. He said, "Before Abraham was, I am. I am in eternal existence". No wonder they got angry. No wonder they threw stones at him. No wonder they tried to kill him. And no wonder they eventually did crucify him. He stood and said, "I am God"! Was he? Was he who he claimed to be? The Son of the living God. One day he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am"? And Peter answered and said, "Well some of them say you're John the Baptist come back or you're Jeremiah, or you're Elijah". He said, "I'm really not interested in what the people say. I'm interested, Peter, in what you say. What do you say"? Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God". And Jesus said, "Peter, you've done well. You've passed your examination. But Peter, those are not your thoughts. Those thoughts came from God. It has been revealed to you by God".
Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of the living God. And you know at his incarnation, or his birth, that was not his birth. Or that wasn't the beginning, that wasn't the origin of Jesus. That was the beginning of his incarnation. Because he has always existed, from everlasting to everlasting he is God the Bible says. "And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us". In other words, the logos, the Word of God, the eternal God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and lived like a man among us. That's what the Bible teaches. And when you come to Jesus Christ you have to accept that. He wasn't just another revolutionary. He wasn't just another hippie. He was not just another great man. He was God in the flesh. And oh, the ethics that he taught. Never a man spake like that man.
"When you get hit on one side", he says, "turn the other cheek". He never said what to do after that. But he did say forgive 70 times 7. Count that up. How about the little irritations from your wife or your husband? 70 times 7 you forgive. My wife once said that the secret of a happy marriage is two good forgivers. And that's what it is. Two good forgivers. People that can forgive each other. Jesus taught that we're to forgive. He taught a revolution in the way we're to live. He taught us that it wasn't just our outward actions that Jesus judges, but it's the inward thoughts and intents.
He said, "Moses said that in the Ten Commandments thou shalt not commit adultery. But I tell you that if you even look on a woman to lust after her you've already committed it". He said, "Moses said thy shalt not murder. But I tell you if you have hate in your heart against your brother without cause you're already guilty". He lifted man's ethics to the highest plane and demanded that we live that kind of a life. And then look at the death he died. Did ever a man die like Jesus? The lightning flashed and the thunder roared and the earth began to shake. And even the soldiers confessed that this must be the Son of God.
Anyone that can see Jesus on that cross and not be touched has a heart of stone. They first took off his clothes. Then they took long leather thongs with steel pellets or lead pellets on the end and beat him across the back until he could hardly stand up. Then they put a crown of thorns on his brow, and his face was bleeding. And they laughed at him and they spit on him and they mocked him. And with one snap of his fingers 72,000 angels had already drawn their swords, ready to come to his rescue and wipe this planet out of existence in the universe. And Jesus said, "No, to this end was I born". And he dragged and lifted and hauled that cross.
And don't you black people ever forget one thing. The man that helped Jesus carry that cross was a black man. And don't ever forget another thing. Jesus belongs to Africa as much as he does to Europe and Asia. He was born in that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. And Jesus was not a white man like me. Nor was he as black as some of you. We don't know what the color of his skin. But it must have been a dark color like the people of his day. Because he was a man like them. Don't ever say it's a white man's religion or a black man's religion. It's a world religion. He belongs to the world. When he died on that cross, they nailed him, they put the nails in his hands. And you know what he said? "Forgive them, they know not what they do". Forgive them.
Could you forgive somebody that's putting nails in your hands and you know you didn't deserve it? He didn't squirm. He didn't yell. He didn't scream. He just took it and said, "Lord, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing". That's how he confronted the violence of his day. And then on the cross he said, "My God why hast thou forsaken me"? And then he dropped his head and said, "It's finished". What did he mean? He meant your plan of salvation is finished. God can now forgive you of all your sins because Jesus had finished God's plan for your salvation. Because you see God knows every one of you by name. He has the hairs of your head numbered. God looks upon you as though you were the only person in the whole universe. He sees you and you alone. And on that cross Jesus had the capacity to think of you. And he loved you enough to stay on the cross.
Was there ever such a love as that when he could have been rescued and taken back to heaven to sit on his throne? But he didn't. He said, "No, I'm doing it for the joy that is set before me". Because he saw that he would be raised from the dead. He saw that there would be a gathering in the generations to come of a people for his name that would make up his body. He saw the day when we will reign with him in his kingdom. Yes, they laid him away in a tomb. And that's where "Jesus Christ Superstar" leaves him. But out in Kansas City some people got hold of the rock opera and they carried it right on to the next step, the resurrection. And if you don't have the resurrection you don't have any Gospel. Jesus Christ is alive.
And when they went out to the tomb that morning they heard the greatest news the world has ever known, "He is not here, he is risen"! He is alive today. And the thing that inspired the disciples to turn the world upside down in their day was the resurrection. They went everywhere declaring that "Jesus is alive". If Jesus claimed to be God knowing he wasn't God then he's a liar. And we will have to say, "Jesus, you're a liar. You're a fraud and a hoax and you're the biggest fraud in the history of the human race". Or if Jesus thought he was God and did not know the difference then he desperately needed mental help. He needed several psychiatrists.
The third alternative is that he was who he claims to be - God in the flesh. I believe that the evidence is overwhelming that he is who he claims to be, the Son of the living God. But I cannot prove it scientifically. But I can prove it by the lives that he transforms everyday. I can prove it because in my heart I don't say, "I think, I hope". I say, "I know"!
And you know there's another element in our lives that we don't think much about and that's the element of faith. You think of the faith that you have to have everyday. You have to have faith that your wife didn't put poison in your coffee this morning. You have to have faith in her. She might have felt like it but she didn't. You have to have faith in the bank when you write a check and sign it and you have money in the bank. You have to have faith that the bank's gonna pay it. You have to have faith in the government when you pull out a dollar bill. Now I know it's shrinking, but you have faith that back of it is a dollar. That people will accept it as money. Everything we do is by faith.
Now for example when I come upon a hill and I live in the mountains of North Carolina and we have a lot of hills. I don't stop my car before I get to the crest of the hill and get out and walk over and see if somebody's coming up the other side on the wrong side. I have faith to believe that the drivers are gonna stay on their side. Faith, faith, faith! Everything. When you sat in that chair, had you ever sat in that chair before? I bet you didn't pick it up and examine it and put your hands on it to see if it would hold you. By faith you just sat down in it. You had faith that people wouldn't build a chair that wouldn't hold you. Everything we do is by faith.
All right take the same faith, put it in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will know who Jesus is. You accept him by faith! And he comes into your life and into your heart and you know that he's who he claims to be. On that Damascus road that I referred to a moment ago, the apostle Paul said, "Who art thou Lord"? And then Paul asked him another question. Paul said, "What do you want me to do, Lord"? And Jesus said, "Arise and go". I'm asking you today to arise and come to him.
Now some of you can ridicule. Some of you can reject him. Some of you can put it off and say I'm gonna wait till another time. Or you can accept him as your Lord and your Savior and your master and the Son of God. And he will come into your heart and forgive your sin and change your life. Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas, "Don't get me wrong, I only want to know", he said. And then the haunting chorus, "Jesus Christ Superstar do you think you are what they say you are"? Yes! And more, ten thousands times more, than two men in England ever put in those lyrics is Jesus Christ. The Son of God and you are asked today to receive him.
In fact, if you're going to go to heaven, the Bible teaches you have to receive him. If you're going to have your sins forgiven you have to receive him. And I'm going to ask you to do it today. And I'm going to ask you to do it publicly. How do you do it? I'm going to ask hundreds of you to get up out of your seat right now and come and stand in front of this platform quietly and reverently. And say, "I want Christ in my heart. I want him to forgive my sin. I want to know I'm going to heaven. I want him to change my life. I receive him as my Lord and Savior".
If you're with friends or relatives or in a delegation they'll wait. If you've come in a bus, they'll wait. Why do I ask you to come forward? Because every person Jesus ever called in the New Testament, he called publicly. You come publicly and openly and declare yourself. You may be protestant, you may be catholic, you may be Jewish, you may be orthodox or you may not have any religion. But God has spoken to you today and you know that you need Christ. You come and make sure right now. We're going to wait.
And I'm going to ask that no one leave the service please, not at this holy moment. I know you want to go because of the crowd, but don't leave. Just get up and come right now. Quickly from everywhere. Hundreds of you. We're going to wait. From all over the stadium as God is speaking. You may be in the choir and this may be your last moment with God. You may never have another hour like this. You come. As hundreds are responding to mr. Graham's invitation to make a public commitment to Jesus Christ, you can make that same commitment right where you are. Just pick up the phone and call the number you see on your screen special friends are waiting to talk with you and pray with you about this most important decision.
You that are watching by television there are hundreds of people coming here at McCormick place in Chicago to make their commitment to Jesus Christ, to accept him as their Lord, their Savior, as their master, as the Son of the living God. I'm going to ask you to make that same commitment where you are at home. I'm praying that you'll make that decision. God help you to do it. And I'll hope that you'll go to church next Sunday. God bless you.