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Why was Jesus silent?
- Jacob Ninan
When Jesus was accused, insulted and abused He said not a word, much to the surprise and annoyance of His tormentors. The Bible challenges us to learn from this to endure unjust and unfair treatment from the others with patience (1Pe.2:20-23). This has great reward from God. This world is very unfair many times, and we find ourselves in situations where we simmer with inward rage at the unfairness of it all. Then the Holy Spirit reminds us that One has gone before us who suffered the greatest injustice of all times, and who refrained from reacting, speaking or behaving in ways which would have appeared to be justified on such occasions. This helps us to give up our rage and commit ourselves to God who is bigger than the situation. Then we find peace and rest in our mind and heart.
But we make a mistake if we think that this is the way we should respond at all times. Are we to take things lying down? Are we to allow others to ride over us as they wish without any defence? Are we forbidden to take any measures to claim or regain what is taken away from us? The mistake is in assuming that whatever Jesus did or spoke is for us to do--irrespective of the context or situation.
Why did Jesus keep quiet? In a sense, because He had come down all the way from heaven for that moment, to die. The Father's will was clear, and the Father was asking Him to drink that cup which Jesus had asked whether there was any way to avoid. This cup meant a total neglect, reversal and obliteration of justice, and it was not for Jesus to contest that through arguments, presenting evidence, calling for witnesses or supporters, etc. He had to bear that injustice to the point of death. So, of course, He kept quiet.
But our situations may not be like that always. Many times we suffer because we are not bold enough to question somebody. Sometimes we give up the battle before taking it up. Sometimes others type us as being soft and take advantage over us. And then we comfort ourselves by saying that we, like Jesus, are keeping quiet!
Was Jesus a soft person who allowed Himself to be bullied around? Far from it. He was always in command, never afraid to disagree with anyone or to stand against sin. He would only do what He really wanted to do. He wouldn't cow down before anyone. He told Pilate to his face (not with insolence or pride) that he would have no authority over Him except what His Father gave (Jn.19:11).
We can't blindly apply one lesson we have learned from the Bible to all situations. It depends on the situation and what God wants us to do each time. We can't also take lessons from Jesus without trying to understand why He did what He did at different times. A blind application of "What would Jesus do?" can also be dangerous! As someone said, there are times when we need courage to change the situation, and at other times we need grace to accept things that can't be changed. We need wisdom to know the difference. We need this wisdom even in studying the Bible.