The Beloved Son
The home going of Billy Graham took me back to 1996 when he powerfully blessed his son, Franklin. Twenty- two years ago the board of the Billy Graham Association knew that with Parkinson’s beginning to affect the prince of preachers’ voice, it was time to make clear who would be the next president of the organization Billy founded in 1950.
Franklin, his fourth child, had just preached a joint crusade with his dad in Saskatoon, Canada, when Billy called him to his hotel room. He took out several letters from his executive—committee members and said, “They have a common thread … that you’re to be the one to take over. And Franklin, I agree with them.” The father’s blessing—Billy not only knew the power of proclaiming the Gospel, but he also knew at this strategic transition the importance of expressing face to face to his son that he loved and blessed him, and wanted him to stand in his place.
The mission was infinitely more important than any human organization. God’s kingdom, not some human organization, was revealing itself on earth. John the Baptist shouted that it was about to arrive and then Jesus showed up at the Jordan from Galilee to be baptized. The Gospel of Mark tells us right at the start that Jesus has his Father’s blessing. At his son’s baptism, God the Father couldn’t help but split the heavens and tell his son how much he loved him.
“And it happened in those days (when John was baptizing and preaching by the Jordan in Judea), Jesus of Nazareth of Galilee came and was baptized in the Jordan by John. Immediately, when he came up out of the water, Jesus saw the heavens split open and the Spirit descended on him like a dove. And there came a voice from the heaven, ‘You are my Son, my beloved one, in whom I am well pleased.’” Mark 1:9-12
The entire Trinity got involved in Jesus’ baptism. The Father from heaven shared his love and blessing with his Son. The Spirit descended upon Jesus, and Jesus united himself with the ministry of John the Baptist. In the first century Roman emperors put up engraved signs all over the empire declaring that they were bringing good news to the world. Mark is telling us that the authentic good news doesn’t come from Rome, but from humble Nazareth, and pulls us into his account of this good news by giving us an unanswered question. Why would God’s Son who is pleasing to his Father join himself with a movement that stressed the need to have a change of heart that involved turning away from false gods and with an open heart confessing one’s sins?
LORD, guide Franklin, as he not only continues to direct the Billy Graham Association, but also Samaritan’s Purse. And help me to follow your example in directly blessing and expressing my delight in each of my kids and grandkids.
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