The Silence of Jesus

"So he [Herod] questioned him [Jesus] at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him."
Luke 23:9-11a
I'm reminded this week of the silence of Jesus. Our world is filled with so many words and so much noise. In our day of constant posting, tweeting, commenting, and one-upping comebacks, the art of silence sure seems to be a lost art. The importance of speaking your mind has overruled the value of shutting your mouth. Commenting now crowds out contemplation. And quick wit is celebrated over patient wisdom.

In the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Scriptures, we find that there is "a time to speak and a time to remain silent" (Ecclesiastes 3:7). We're also told that, "The annoyance of a fool is known at once, but those who have sense will ignore an insult” (Proverbs 12:16). In other words, the fool lacks self-control and shows their annoyance right away. But the wise are calm, forbearing, and slow to anger. For most of Jesus' unjust trial, as he's being insulted and mocked, this is what we see. We see the profound wisdom and power of his silence. But where did his ability to remain silent come from?

Peter lets us in on the source of Jesus' inner strength: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return...but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus knew that his Father saw it all and heard it all. Therefore, Jesus could leave it all into the heart and hands of the Judge of all.

Without a firm belief in God, taking matters into our own hands becomes inevitable. And without a deep inner security in our God-given identity, justifying ourselves before others becomes inevitable. When we functionally live as if there is no God, any insult or threat to us is easily elevated in importance and our need to provide a knee-jerk reaction is exaggerated. I can't help but think of Will Smith’s slap at the Oscars and the reproach that that impulsive moment brought to him. His reaction was shocking, but let's be candid; it was not rare. It was rare to be caught on film, but that type of thing happens all the time, everyday. This is one of the societal repercussions of rejecting the existence of a good and just God. We become far too sensitive, far too insecure, and we lose the ability to calmly bear with insults. What is needed?

We need more of the Spirit of Jesus than the spirit of our age. Only the Spirit of Christ in me can calmly bear with the unkind words from others. Only a firm and functional grasp of my Father's good care and eternal justice can enable me to keep my mouth shut. During this holy week, the eloquent silence of Jesus reminds me that a quiet faith in God is more powerful than all the world's rhetoric and retorts.

Father, help me to functionally entrust my life and future to you. Please empower me to have a longer fuse, thicker skin, and a heart that trusts that you can handle any situation that I'm in better than I can. Amen.
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