"What's so important about Easter?" Rick Warren asked the rhetorical question in a recent article he wrote for Christian Broadcasting News. Warren, who along with wife Kay, started Saddleback Church in 1977, answered his own question.
Warren said, "It's important because Jesus was who he claimed to be. He was God in the flesh, and he came to earth to save us."
While the big decisions in contemporary America revolve around what size a big screen television a person should purchase or whether a consumer should upgrade his cell phone, Warren directed the attention of his readers to an event which occurred more than two thousand years ago in the Middle East. The man who started a church with his wife and one other couple, further said, "Every time you write a date, you're using the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point."
Since Easter Sunday is only a few days ahead of us this is an excellent time to look at what Warren had to say about this history-changing event. He discussed three "events which occurred in dramatic succession on that first Easter weekend."
Those events include the six trials of Jesus, followed by the death of Jesus and then the resurrection of Jesus. Although he had done nothing wrong, Jesus endured one of the most rigorous odysseys in legal courtroom history. The six trials have to still be a world record. His judges in those trials included Annas; Caiphas, the high priest; the Sanhedrin (the religious Supreme Court); Pilate (the governor of Jerusalem); Herod (the governor of Galilee); and then back to Pilate.
Jesus made a very original plea to all these earthly courts which never wavered, according to Warren, who wrote the bestselling book "The Purpose-Driven Life". That book has outsold all others, except the Bible.
Jesus said in John 12:47 that, "I didn't come to judge the world. I came to save it." Why didn't he just say not guilty like everyone does in the American court system today?
Warren, who grew Saddleback from four to more than 20,000, said Jesus allowed himself to be put on trial so there would be no doubt who he was. Warren further said, "He could have stopped the trial (or trials) at any moment. He knew he would be proven guilty and put on the cross.....but he allowed it to happen."
Jesus knew what he was getting himself into when he refused to mount a defense in front of these six judges. He wasn't going to be placed on probation and ordered to report to a probation officer once a month for a few years. He also was well aware he wasn't going to be sentenced to prison and paroled out. Jesus knew he was facing an execution far more painful than lethal injection.
Jesus was crucified after a long night of beatings, mockings and being crowned with painful thorns pressed viciously into his head by the Roman soldiers. Warren said, "Crucifixion is probably the most brutal and torturous death penalty ever devised by men. His hands were stretched out wide against the cross and nailed through the two bones in each wrist. As the nails went through this part of the flesh, they would strike the nerve that travels up the arms and cause excruciating pain."
Why did Jesus have to die like this? Warren said, "Because he alone was able to pay for your sins. You deserved punishment, but Jesus paid the penalty for you."
Most people spanning the world know the rest of the story, but Warren said, "It's important to remember that Easter is not some memorial to a nice, good religious leader who lived 2,000 years ago. It's a celebration of the fact that he is alive today." Warren also said the approximately 1 billion Christians who will celebrate Easter this weekend are also living proof that Jesus is alive today.
Warren queries, "What does this mean to us today? In one sense Jesus Christ is still on trial today. He's on trial in the heart and mind of every person who has not yet acknowledged him as the Sond of God, the Savior of the world."
Warren sets out three steps a person should follow: "1. Admit you are a sinner and need forgiveness; 2. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the Cross and rose from the grave; 3. Through prayer, confess that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and commit to live for Him for the rest of your life."
He encourages people wanting further information to either contact him or CBN.
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