The Significance of Silence
The Significance of Silence
As Solomon once said, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Do you know the difference?
When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, accused of conspiracy and blasphemy, it says: “The high priest stood up before them all and questioned Jesus, ‘Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?’ But he kept silent and did not answer” (Mark 14:60-61).
The high priest is screaming accusations in Jesus’ face, and Jesus just stays silent. Amazing, when you consider the fact that this is the God who speaks … All. The. Time. He spoke the universe into existence. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. He spoke to Abraham and called him out of Ur to start a nation. He spoke to Moses from a burning bush. When he came to earth as Jesus Christ, he spoke to thousands of people in sermon after sermon. He was so talkative that John gave him a nickname: “The Word.” Nobody could get him to close his mouth.
But now, nobody can get him to open his mouth. Why? Jesus knows he has to let this trial just run its course. He’s on his way to die for his people, and so he knows he can’t try to defend himself. And that must be so hard. The religious leaders are accusing him of trying to destroy the Jerusalem temple and rebuild it in three days. He must be dying to say, “Hey idiots, I wasn’t talking about your temple, I was talking about my temple. My body!” But he’s not doing that.
He’s keeping his mouth closed, out of his submission to the Father, and out of his love for you. He’s so committed to dying for you, and taking God’s wrath for you, that he’ll give up his own honor and reputation for you. He’ll just stay silent.
How hard is it for you to be silent in the face of questions or accusations? If you’re like me, you always feel like you need to defend yourself. Say your wife accuses you of leaving the freezer door open, and now all the ice cream is melted (this is totally hypothetical, I’ve never experienced anything like this). You know it wasn’t you, it was one of the kids. So what are you going to do? You’re going to throw that 7-year-old under the bus! You’ve gotta defend yourself! That cute little girl is on her own!
But Jesus didn’t work that way. He stayed silent in the face of accusation, just like Isaiah said he would:
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered his fate? For he was cut off from the land of the living; he was struck because of my people’s rebellion. (Isaiah 53:7-8)
Jesus stayed quiet for you. He was a sheep willingly going to the slaughter, for you. He was taken away because of judgment on you. He was struck because of the rebellion of you. And he stayed silent through it all.
Sometimes the greatest gift of love you can give is silence.