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His innocence convicted Him.
But you will also travel with Jesus in the years leading up to His final trial as He reveals eternity’s greatest truths in response to hostile questions from the religious leaders of His day.
·Can you prove that you’re the Messiah?
·How can you defend a woman caught in adultery?
·What does it take to reach heaven?
·How can we know God?
·What is truth?
Whether you embrace the claims of Christ or your verdict is still out, you’ll gain provocative insight into the driving passion behind the carpenter from Nazareth. As you take a juror’s seat in this monumental case, you’ll realize that as Jesus answers His accusers, He’s not just talking to them, He’s talking to you.
The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ
Cross-examination," said noted jurist John Wigmore, "is the greatest legal engine ever invented to discern the truth." Never has that engine performed more flawlessly than it did during the life of Christ, generating the most powerful truths in the history of the world. This book is the story of Jesus on the witness stand--His jaw-dropping answers that shocked the Pharisees and inspire us still.
The purpose of this book, like the purpose of any effective crossexamination, is to reveal the truth--not just what Jesus taught but who Jesus is. His character. His intellect. His mission. The astounding depth of His love. Our verdict will be a lifestyle more like His.
Cross-examination, my professors stressed, is the most dangerous part of any trial. A slippery witness can decimate your case before you know what has happened. That's why you never ask a question if you don't already know the answer. The classic illustration goes something like this:
LAWYER (defending someone accused of assault): You didn't actually see my client bite the nose of the alleged victim. Isn't that true?
WITNESS: That's true.
LAWYER: In fact, at the time of the alleged incident, there were several people engaged ina fight and your view of the victim was blocked. Isn't that true?
LAWYER: Then how can you be so sure that it was my client who bit the victim's nose as opposed to one of the other men in the fight?
WITNESS: Because I saw him spit it out.
By then, it's too late to plea-bargain.
Another thing to keep in mind, according to those same professors, is the difference between a dangerous witness and one who can't really hurt you very much. With a dangerous witness, sometimes the best crossexamination is no cross-examination at all. But the Pharisees didn't go to my law school. So they hurled the most volatile questions possible at the most dangerous witness of all time without knowing what the answer might be. The explosions reverberate still.
DOWE REALLY NEED ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT JESUS?
One could argue that even a million more books about Jesus would never cover the breadth of His character or the depth of His grace. Under this view there could never be too many books about the central figure in all of history.
But I'll take a different approach. I wrote this book not just to add another voice to the choir, but to look at Jesus from a unique angle that is immensely revealing though largely ignored. It is the story of Christ under the withering fire of cross-examination, and it is organized and narrated differently than any book you've ever read.
The first and last chapters are a firsthand account of the final trial of Jesus--historical fiction based on scriptural fact. Together, those chapters tell the story of the greatest miscarriage of justice ever, bar none. I've placed you there as Pontius Pilate's primary legal advisor--the assessore who would have advised Pilate under the Roman legal system. The book's middle eight chapters flash back to Christ's explosive confrontations with the Pharisees, examining eight of the most intense episodes between Jesus and His critics. These exchanges, perhaps better than any others, reveal the heart and mind of Christ. We return, in the final chapter, to Pilate's court, to the verdict of the Romans, and ultimately to the cross. I've used this organization--first-person fiction bracketing the eight nonfiction chapters--for both a spiritual reason and a practical one. The spiritual reason is this: when Christ came to town, He taught the greatest truths of all time using the two methods I've tried to emulate in this book.
First, Jesus told stories. And second, He answered questions from skeptics. He didn't preach three-point sermons with soft music playing in the background. He faced relentless cross-examination. And He used fictional characters to convey life-changing truths. That's the spiritual reason the book is organized this way.
So what's the practical side of it?
I'm a fiction writer and a former trial lawyer. This is what I do; it's how I communicate. Trial lawyers are storytellers. We believe in the mantra of all novelists: show, don't tell. I want you to experience the intensity and feel the injustice of Jesus's final cross-examination. To do this, I've used fiction to make you part of the story. After all, He went to the cross for us.
But trial lawyers aren't just storytellers. We also love cross-examination. Why? Because it forces the jury to choose sides. Though jurors swear to keep an open mind, trial lawyers know that on a subconscious level jurors cannot remain neutral. The more intense the cross-examination, the greater the difficulty. Before the witness ever steps down from the stand, the jurors have decided whether to take the witness at his word or not. And so will we.
YOU LOOK VAGUELY FAMILIAR...
A strange and uncomfortable thing happened as I began writing this book. The more I studied Christ's confrontations with the Pharisees, the more I recognized myself in some of these questioners. I discovered that some of these folks really loved God but tried to show it with activity rather than relationship. A holy busyness--that felt familiar. I found men who believed that Jesus was obligated to answer all of their why questions. There were men so focused on winning arguments that they couldn't hear the cry of a heart. And others who would not be satisfied unless Christ showed Himself powerful through one more miraculous sign or a political conquest or another physical healing. At times I felt as if I had stepped into this book and started questioning Jesus too. The thought rocked me like a Mike Tyson right hook in his heyday, before he traded boxing for ear biting. I'm a lot more like the Pharisees than I ever thought. Than I ever wanted to be. I tend to interpret Christ's words in light of my own traditions and preconceptions. I'm inclined to put my own self-justifying gloss on the stories of Jesus and the religious leaders. I may feel a need to water Him down or explain Him away or claim that He is speaking symbolically. All of this is the mind-set of a Pharisee, the nitpicking of a lawyer.
That's when I discovered this mind-bending truth: if I want to be like Jesus, I must first realize how much I am already like the Pharisees. In God's paradoxical way, that humbling realization is the first step toward becoming less like the Pharisees we loathe and more like the Savior we love. All of our mental gymnastics and convoluted questions can't make it any other way. Tricky business, and dangerous, this road toward the mind of Christ. The devil is still a crafty cross-examiner, twisting the truth and distorting the testimony. Like Mike Tyson after his prime, Satan couldn't land many direct punches on Christ, but he still had a nasty bite. At the cross, hell bit off more than it could chew.
"How do you know?" you ask (violating the cardinal rule of crossexamination).
"Because three days later they saw hell spit Him out."
Excerpted from The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ by Randy Singer Excerpted by permission.
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