Thursday, March 28, 2013

The silence of Jesus

Christ Before Caiaphas - Matthias Stom
"Christ Before Caiaphas" -  Matthias Stom

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 23:1-25

TO CHEW ON: "Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing." Luke 23:9

I always marvel at Jesus's silence. His silences really, for quite a few times He remained silent when I know I would have babbled on and on.

Isaiah predicted this silence:

"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" - Isaiah 53:7 (see also Isaiah 42:4).

Jesus sometimes ministered without words.
  • When a herd of Jewish men brought to Him a woman caught in adultery, "… Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He didn't hear" - John 8:6.
  • In the closing days of His life, He announced to His disciples: "I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me" - John 14:30.
The story of His arrest and trials are taut with the tension of His silence:
  • He was silent before the High Priest (Caiaphas) - Matthew 26:62-63.
  • He answered Pilate's question: "Are you the King of the Jews?" with "It is as you say." But when the chief priests continued to level accusations at Him, He remained silent so that Pilate was amazed (Mark 15:2-5).
  • He was silent in front of Herod - Luke 23:9.

Does the explanation of His silence to the disciples carry a clue about His wisdom in this, especially at the end of his life? Here is John 14:30 again, this time from the Amplified Bible:

 "I will not talk with you much more, for the prince (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me" (emphasis added).

Amos 5:13 speaks similar wisdom: "Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time."

Perhaps we should consider silence more often. After we have explained ourselves, defended our position, made clear where we stand, instead of arguing and getting into verbal fisticuffs—silence? It is a form of passive resistance that is hard to counteract and may shield us from giving the devil that foothold that comes with self-justifying, angry and sometimes abusive words.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I need the wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. Please give me insights into this. Amen.

MORE: Maundy Thursday
Today the church celebrates Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday or the Thursday before Easter. It is a day of special emphasis on the Last Supper. It may have got its name from the English king's practice of distributing "maundsor baskets" or "maundy purses" to the poor before attending the evening service.

["the term 'Maundy' comes in fact from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which as a verb means to beg and as a noun refers to a small basket held out by maunders as they maunded" - Wikipedia on Maundy Thursday]

Here is the collect that begins the Maundy Thursday liturgy

"Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."


Amplified Bible (Amp) - Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation  - Used with permission.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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