Christ and a Criminal: Will Graham Shares Good Friday Message Online

By   •   April 10, 2020

Will Graham told the story of one particular character in the Bible whose story applies to all of us more than 2,000 years after the original Good Friday.

For weeks, Will Graham and Christian artist Aaron Shust were planning to livestream a special Good Friday message from the Billy Graham Library. That was before COVID-19 altered nearly everyone’s plans around the globe, but on Friday, both Graham and Shust were determined to make it happen.

So, on a shady sidewalk in front of the Library, the pair shared a message and music that came from the heart as more than 65,000 people in 78 countries watched live online in both English and Spanish.

With just a couple of stools and microphones—Graham with a tablet in hand, Shust with a guitar—the pair shared what Good Friday is all about.

It was at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry that He was betrayed by one of His disciples, Judas, and put on trial, though He was innocent of any crime. Religious leaders were jealous of Jesus and wanted Him gone. The people turned on Him and demanded He be crucified.

The Bible says Roman Governor Pontius Pilate “marveled” at Jesus, Will Graham said, and didn’t think He deserved death.

Graham read from Matthew 27 about a notorious prisoner named Barabbas who was found guilty of murder, theft and rebellion. When Pilate asked the people whether they’d rather have Barabbas or Jesus killed, they called for Jesus.

“Barabbas went free that day,” Graham said. “Not because he was innocent. He was guilty. … Barabbas went free because Someone he never saw before took his place on the cross. It was Jesus.”

Watch the entire 30-minute service:

The Bible says Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), Graham explained. He was blameless. Barabbas, on the other hand, “was the worst of worst.”

“Jesus was willing to take his place on the cross. And my friends, this is a picture of you and me,” Graham said, looking directly into the camera.

“I deserve death just like Barabbas,” he continued, and so do we all, because we have all broken God’s laws. We have all sinned, putting a barrier between us and God and ensuring our separation from Him forever.

Aaron Shust ended the service by singing “Just As I Am,” the same song that closed so many Billy Graham Crusades over the decades. “Just as I am, without one plea/But that Thy blood was shed for me/And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee/O Lamb of God, I come! I come.”

There’s a way to be rescued,” Graham said, and that’s through Jesus. “He’s willing to trade spots and take the death sentence for you, so that why? So you can live. So that you can have a relationship with God …”

“He went to the cross 2,000 years ago. That’s what Good Friday is all about,” he explained. It was a bad day for Jesus, but a good day for us because it means our sins have been paid for, once and for all.

“He died. He went to the cross. He was crucified, a torturous death. He bled and He died for you.”

Ending his message, Graham reflected on Pilate’s question to the angry crowd: “What now shall I do with Jesus?”

Graham asked everyone watching the livestream the same thing—and he would ask everyone reading this story now: “What are you going to do with Jesus?

You can answer that important question today. Start here.