When Jesus Stood Silent

Taken from a Red Rock News Article (March 22, 2024)
Rev. Dona Johnson | March 24, 2024

          For any of us who have been falsely accused of something. For any of us who have been blamed for something we did not do, we know from experience the emotional pain it produces when the truth we attest to is denied or our voice is not heard. Over the years, there have been persons falsely accused in the criminal justice system, where the jury got it all wrong.
          As Jesus stood in shackles before Pilate, two dark forces were at work, the false accusations and the jeering mop (Mark 15:1-20). The crowd yelled, “Nail him to a cross!” Pilate objected, “But for what crime?’ But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to the cross!” Pilate gave the crowd what they wanted. He set Barabbas free, a criminal sentenced to death. And in his place took Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, a man without sin, a man who committed no crime, a man whose message was love and forgiveness and sentenced him to an agonizing death by crucifixion. Slander, lies and cowardice sealed Jesus’ fate.

          When we refuse to own up to our responsibility for our actions, we choose Barabbas. When we allow any group, be it a political group, workplace team, media, or social group, to push us to act against the teachings of Christ, we choose Barabbas. At times, we may become part of the angry mob of a nation that turns against Jesus, calling for his crucifixion.
          But these dark forces were bringing all of humanity closer to God’s plan of redemption. Pilate was feeling the mounting pressure and had to get this right. Professionally, Pilate could not afford an uprising. He did not want Jesus’ blood on his hands. Although he could not put his finger on it, there was something about Jesus, something about the way he stood before his accuser silent and that caused him to doubt his course of action.

          It is without a doubt incomprehensible how Jesus stood silent before Pilate. The Prophet Isaiah describes his silence “Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). What person in their right mind, a person who was falsely accused would not put up a fight for his or her life? But silence is a language and there are many types of silence. There is the silence of admiration. When your swept off your feet by something beautifully breathtaking, like a sunset. There is the silence of contempt. When you chose to respond to someone’s argument or excuse with a silence which shows they are unworthy of an answer and you walk away. There is also the silence of fear. Where people are simply afraid to speak up in front of others. There is the silence of the heart that is hurt. When people have been so wounded that it cuts them to their core and leaves them speechless. And then there is the silence of tragedy. This silence comes when a person surrenders their will to the circumstance because all options have run their course.
          Jesus was silent before the Jewish leaders because there was no ground to be gained—both were at an insurmountable impasse. It is a terrible thing when a person’s heart is so broken by slander and lies that all one can muster up is silence. If you have ever found yourself at an impasse or a victim of lies and slander, Jesus is one with you in your pain and suffering.
          As we move towards Holy Week and Easter, let us not forget that out of Jesus’ divine silence, when all those present thought he was doomed to death, God was working out his ultimate plan of redemption. Jesus’ silence would soon burst forth in resurrection power, the stone rolled back and death and sin conquered once and for all!

Prayer: “Heavenly Father, we give You thanks  for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who came  not as a conquering king but as a humble  servant—victorious over sin and death, paving  the way for our salvation. Amen.