The Gripping Silence Of Jesus

April 8, 2020
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Isaiah 53:7b – He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (NIV)

Luke 23:9 – [Herod] plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. (NIV)

Matthew 27:12-14 – When [Jesus] was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge — to the great amazement of the governor. (NIV)

Suddenly, it was quiet! Your heart skipped a beat. Until now you hadn't paid much attention to the children's playful chatter. But now the silence grips every fibre of your being.

That's the power of silence. Perhaps you've experienced such a gripping silence, a silence that rivets your attention and stirs up feelings that you never expected. I suspect that King Herod experienced a gripping silence the day that Jesus "gave him no answer". I'm sure that Pilate did, too, as well as the chief priests and elders, when Jesus "made no reply" to their accusations. I believe that Jesus' silence was more potent than any defence could have been. Let me explain:

King Herod had eagerly anticipated an encounter with this popular figure, Jesus. The ego-driven ruler had hoped to see Him perform a miracle, perhaps to satisfy his lust for cheap entertainment. Perhaps, he craved gleefully gloating as his victim sputtered through a feeble defence. But Jesus remained silent. Oh, how annoying this must have been for the narcissistic king. Jesus would have aroused what every narcissist dreads: the unbearable feeling of powerlessness. Herod couldn't make Jesus perform.

What about Pilate? Pilate already knew that Jesus was innocent, and he couldn't understand why Jesus refused to defend Himself like anyone else would. But Pilate was less interested in Jesus than in himself. Pilate wanted to protect his position as ruler by preventing unrest in his domain. He scapegoated Jesus to save himself.

Herod, Pilate, and the chief priests all remained unaffected by Jesus' silence because they cared more about their own interests than about truth. They were fools, and Jesus responded accordingly: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly" (Proverbs 26:4a NIV). Perhaps Jesus' silence that day was also a gift of mercy — a chance for self-reflection and repentance.

We ourselves may experience our Lord's gripping silence, perhaps through unanswered prayer. The silence may be God's way of encouraging us to reflect further. Perhaps, we discover that we wanted a miracle for our own gratification or to avoid facing ourselves truthfully. The silence of unanswered prayer may be the Spirit's way of leading us to repentance and preparing us to offer a different prayer, one that God will answer.

Of course, fools don't learn through gripping silence. The two rulers shared that defect, and perhaps that's why "that day Herod and Pilate became friends — before this they had been enemies." (Luke 23:12 NIV) It's perhaps why, as friends, they colluded against Christ — the revealer of truth.

Like Jesus, we may receive accusations from those who have no interest in truth. Silence may be the prudent response, lest we play into their hands, encouraging them to devise further accusations. Like Jesus, sometimes, we must simply leave our accusers in God's hands.

Now, that's a powerful silence!

Prayer: Lord, whenever we feel misunderstood or accused, help us to surrender our urge for vindication and restfully trust You to direct our responses. Amen.


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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.


    Very well put thank you.


    Encouraging words, Diane.


    Thank you, Diane. Lots of food for thought.


    Thanks, Diane. Difficult to do, but great advice.


    Powerful, mighty and very moving, Diane. What a blessed thing you have been inspired to write here. Unforgettable and much needed. Love to you in all your work.


    Thank you, Diane, for this devotion.
    I enjoyed it very much.
    (Quebec)


    Hi Diane,
    God bless you as you continue to write for Him!
    God bless.


    Diane, the analysis you present is itself gripping and I thank you for it. As well, your style of writing appeals and I consider that a treasure God has tucked into my day. Bless you for your faithfulness.


    When we gaze upon Christ Jesus, beaten and bruised, standing in our stead, we fall to our knees ashamed of our sin, beg forgiveness, immediately granted, then touched by mercy, by grace, we rise, awe struck and silent, into our Saviour’s loving embrace. Thanks for this touching devotional. Blessings.


    Dear Diane,
    This is a devotional of powerful truth.
    Silence, waiting with praying without ceasing, trusting God to work the matter out in his own time.
    Please pray with me: “God, you know the truth, you know what to do about it.”
    For Jesus sake. Amern.


    Dear Diane,
    Thanks for to-day’s devotional.
    I always find your writings helpful.
    To-day’s was very powerful. It certainly spoke ‘loudly’ to me.
    May God continue to give you the strength and inspiration to write.


    Hello Diane,
    Good to have a devotional from you today. Thank you for writing and emphasizing the point that silence is more productive than retaliatory remarks. It is best to leave the situation in the hands of Jesus as His way will be the most appropriate.
    Blessings for your writings.
    (B.C.)


    Cool! Worth meditating on. I often am silent because I am shocked at someone’s ignorance or hatefulness and don’t know what to say in response. But silence is a good thing. Thanks.

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