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The Silence of Christ

In Isaiahís prophecy of Godís suffering servant, he wrote, ďHe was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouthĒ (Isa. 53:7).  This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was falsely accused of wrongdoing before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish council) and later before Pilate (Roman procurator of Judea).  Rather than offering a truthful defense for Himself and proving His innocence, the Lord silently endured the lies and blasphemy against Him (Matt. 26:59-68; 27:11-14).  It was not that Jesus said nothing throughout His trials, but rather it was that He did not defend Himself against the false charges brought against Him.  Even without a defense against these charges, Jesus was pronounced to be free from guilt by Pilate (John 18:38; 19:4, 6), and yet Pilate still delivered Him to be crucified.  Even as the Lord was dying on the cross, He said nothing in response to the insults and abuse from His enemies (Matt. 28:39-44).

The silence of our Lord defies the reasoning of man.  By manís reasoning, the Lord should have demanded His rights and put up the fight of His life.  He should have boldly defended Himself and declared the honest truth of His innocence.  Moreover, with the power of God at His command and the eyes of the world upon Him, He should have called fire down from heaven to consume His enemies and demonstrate His deity.  However, Jesus defied manís logic and did none of that.  Instead, He remained silent and allowed Himself to be condemned by wicked men.  By manís reasoning, the Lordís silence was as admission of His guilt and His fraud, and this is exactly how Christís enemies thought.  However, Godís plan was not according to man.

Silently, Christ fulfilled the plan of God according to His will, for it was Godís will that His Christ should die in our place to make atonement for our sins.  Let us notice again the prophecy of Isaiah:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isa. 53:4-6)

This passage expresses the purpose of Christís death, and this is why Jesus silently facilitated the events that led to His death.  When He could have called twelve legions of angels, He remained silent for our sake (Matt. 26:52-54); when He could have defended Himself before men, He said nothing for our sake; when He could have answered the insults hurled at Him on the cross, He did not open His mouth for our sake.  He said nothing to prevent the fulfillment of His Fatherís will.

Öand while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;  and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1Pet. 2:23-24)

Therefore, we should be thankful for the silence of Christ that has made our salvation possible.  As we read of the Lordís trials and His crucifixion, we must see that He willingly carried the guilt that rightfully belongs to us.  We are like a guilty one sitting in a gallery of a great court and watching the unjust trial of one who is innocent.  This innocent one is accused of crimes for which we are guilty.  Moreover, He knows the truth, and with one word in His own defense He can set Himself free and send us to our just condemnation.  However, He says nothing.  Instead, He silently allows Himself to be condemned to the punishment that should be ours.  We watch Him endure that punishment, and so the case is closed and the guilt of our sins is erased.  Because of His silence we may now live.  How can we not be forever thankful for His selfless silence that has saved our souls?  Praise God for His immeasurable grace!

Stacey E. Durham




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