All throughout the first four books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—there are lots of “red letters” (words spoken by Jesus). But as each of these gospel writers begins to recount the arrest and sham trial of Jesus, I’m struck by how many “black letters” there are. This fulfilled an Old Testament prophesy—
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).
The chief priests and the Sanhedrin brought out a string of witnesses to falsely accuse Jesus, but even then these witnesses couldn’t get their stories to jive, so Jesus remained silent. In exasperation the chief priest Caiaphas lashed out at Jesus, “Aren’t You going to answer these charges? Don’t You hear what they’re saying about You? Why won’t You defend Yourself?”
So here’s how Jesus responded to His accusers: But Jesus remained silent (Matthew 26:63). His silence resonated louder than any words could have!
How could Jesus do this? How could He stand silently when all of these nasty things were being said about Him?
He looked back—”…He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth…” (Isaiah 53:9). All four Gospels record Jesus saying, “You heard Me speaking in public all the time. My life has been on display for You. If I had said or done anything wrong, you could have arrested Me earlier, but the facts are: I haven’t said or done anything sinful.”
He looked forward—”…Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross, disregarding its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2). He knew that one wrong word could undo all of the good words which He previously spoke, so He looked forward to the joy that would come after this was over.
I just went through a period of my life where people threw incredibly hurtful lies at me, but what was that compared to the horrific abuse heaped upon Jesus? If He could remain silent, how much more should I?
While I was in the midst of this difficult time, a prayerful friend handed me a notecard which I have kept close to me. Perhaps these words will be helpful to you, too—
May kindness be the response in you
where such a response is not expected.
May gentleness have the power
to overrule an offense and the power to heal. (David Teems)
May this Good Friday be a time of reflection in what Jesus didn’t say. And may I, along with you, learn this power of silence when falsely accused.