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. The prophet Isaiah foretold this.
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
Examples of Jesus Silence
(1) When false witnesses twisted Jesus’ words about destroying the temple, Jesus kept quiet. The high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But Jesus kept silent. (Matt 26:62).
(2) 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?” “But He answered him not one word.” (Matt 27:12-14)
(3) When he was brought before Herod, Jesus was silent. (Lk 23:8-10) “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.”
(4) When he returned to Pilate, Jesus was quiet. (John 19:7-9) The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
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.
What His Silence Said?
(1) It Spoke to the Humility of Jesus. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8) He didn’t need to speak. His silence spoke to his demeanor. Deportment. Attitude.
(2) It Spoke to the Surrender and obedience of Jesus. Jesus surrendered the riches of heaven for the poverty of an earthly existence; surrendered His prerogatives of Deity for the frail flesh of humanity; And He surrendered himself voluntarily to be offered as a sacrificial lamb for our sins. Jesus prayed, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Lk. 22:43).
(3) It Spoke to the Patience of Jesus. We become agitated, upset and impatient with people who are ignorant. Unlearned. And make ridiculous and absurd accusations. If anyone ever had a right to lose patience with people, it was Jesus. Yet, he did not respond. Jesus was silent.
(4) It Spoke to the Vicarious Nature of His Suffering. Jesus’ suffering wasn’t for Him; it was for me, and for you. Jesus suffered in silence. For us!
(5) It Spoke to His Serenity of Spirit; the Soberness of His impending death and Seriousness of His Purpose. Prophecy pointed to this occasion. God’s eternal purpose was wrapped up in this time; And means of our redemption would only be realized by Jesus paying the ransom for our wrongs. This was a serious, sober and solemn occasion.
What it Means to Our Sunday Service?
Sunday when we come to take communion it is a time of silence. Off solemn meditation. Of serious reflection. It may be the only time during the week you’re with so many people who are silent.
We come to the communion service as humble sinners. Broken. Contrite. Unworthy. Undeserving. And unassuming. This supper reminds us that we have not to boast or brag about in and of ourselves.
We surround the table with a spirit of surrender. Willing to give up our modest credentials. Yielding our earthly place and position. Communion reminds us that we are common folks. That we’re all the same at the table.
We join together with others in a spirit of mutual love, concern and forbearance. There’s no place here for impatience with each other. Jesus set the standard. He calls us to a higher plane.
We partake with tender hearts. Reflecting on His suffering for us. His body was beaten for us. His blood was shed for us. He died for us.
And so, we too approach Sunday’s Supper with an air of soberness. Solemnity. Sobriety. Seriousness. And with sincerity of heart that seeks the Savior’s blessing.
Sunday when you silently sit in the worship service and eat and drink, remember Him who suffered in silence. The slain lamb. Who died for our sins.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman