Thursday, April 05, 2012

The wisdom of silence

"Jesus brought before Pilate"
- William Brassey Hole

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 14:66-15:20

TO CHEW ON: "And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing ... But still Jesus answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled." Mark 15:3,5

A few weeks ago I let myself get drawn into a war of comments on a book review I wrote. When a commenter posted, under a review of a book of children's Bible stories, "... my wish would be that no child is exposed to this propaganda ... it is based on falsehood. At the very least the book should be marketed as fiction," I jumped in. What a pointless exercise! I made of myself a good example of what not to do.

Jesus, here, shows us the power and dignity of silence in the face of accusation and attack. Of course He wasn't completely silent to his accusers.

- In Matthew we see His inquisition before Caiaphas, where He answered once (Matthew 26:65).

- When He faced the Sanhedrin, He also spoke briefly in His own defense (Luke 22:67-70).

- Here before Pilate, both Luke and Mark's accounts record His answer to Pilate's question, "Are you the King of the Jews?" with "It is as you say" (while John gives a bit more of His speech - John 18:37). But then He refused to say more.

Why the silence? Jesus gives one answer. "If I tell you, you will by no means believe" - Luke 22:67.

Perhaps that is also a good reason for us to stop talking. For when it becomes apparent that there is no openness and no desire to dialogue but just the need to trash beliefs and get in the last word, silence may be the best option.

The words of Amos, spoken to Israel in a dark day, is probably advice we should take more often: "Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time. For it is an evil time" - Amos 5:13.

PRAYER: Dear God when I face attacks on You and my faith in You, I need wisdom. Help me to know when to speak and when to keep silent because I have said enough. Amen.

MORE: "He gave His back to the smiters" - Handel's Messiah

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  1. A really thoughtful and needed devotion for me, Violet. I tend to speak to quickly, get upset too quickly. Thank you for this and all the devotions you obviously spend a lot of time and thought on.

    Blessings to you

  2. Thanks so much Diana! Needed for me too. What is it about us, that we so like to have the last word? I need to learn that sometimes silence is more powerful (and mysterious) than speech.


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