In his book, The World of Silence, published in 1948, the Swiss philosopher Max Picard opined: “Nothing has changed the nature of man so much as the loss of silence,” once as natural as the sky and air.” I wonder what Max would think today? With the constant chatter of our modern world of communication, there’s not a lot silence!
There is an ancient proverb that says “Silence is golden.” Sometimes it’s better to listen. To refrain from responding. To ignore insults. To turn a deaf ear to absurd accusations.
On the most famous Friday in history, we witness an example of such silence. When Jesus was accosted and accused by his enemies he was noticeably silent.
When false witnesses twisted Jesus’ words about destroying the temple Jesus kept quiet. In fact, Matthew records that the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But Jesus kept silent.
Later when he was “being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.” Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” The Bible says, “But He answered him not one word.” Jesus’ demeanor impressed the governor. The record says that he “marveled greatly.”
Jesus’ silence was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth” (Isa 53:7)
In fact during the entire process, Jesus utterances are so few and so concise that they have been analyzed, scrutinized and become the subject of profound study.
But Jesus didn’t need to speak. His actions spoke louder than his words. His miracles shouted to the heavens that he was the Son of God. His teaching had amazed even the doctors of the law. During his ministry He spoke with authority. Assurance. And power. Now, there was no need.
There was no need because He knew that Sunday was coming! The tongue that lay silent in the grave would again speak! In majesty! Dignity! Power! Jesus would let the resurrection testify to His Deity. And it did! In a mighty manner!
This example by my Savior reminds me that I don’t always need to talk. I don’t need to answer every critic. Or respond to every facebook post. I’m not obligated to debate everyone who disagrees with me. Or reply to all philosophical foolishness.
There is “A time to keep silence, And a time to speak” (Eccl 3:7) The wise man was right. Often it’s better not to “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. (Prov. 26:4)
Friday’s critics and their mindless chatter will soon enough be quieted by Sunday’s victory. My hope lies not in the ability to answer every argument, solve every issue, or rebuff every opponent of error. It lies in Jesus. Who He is. What He did. What He is going to do again. One day.
Just remember. It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman