A big part of the reason we always feel the need to respond in any situation is because we lack this assurance and confidence. We don’t know who we are, or at least, we haven’t fully embraced it. We, because of Jesus, have become the sons and daughters in whom the Father is well-pleased, and because we are God’s adopted children, we have no need of any more self-justification. If we truly internalized this truth, the truth of who we’ve become in Christ, we might find ourselves with an increasingly closed mouth.
We love to respond. No, wait – that’s wrong. We NEED to respond.
You know the feeling as well as I do. There is someone who brings something to us – it’s an accusation; it’s a criticism; it’s a rebuke – it’s a whatever. Someone does something or says something or insinuates something, and we, in return, feel a compulsion inside of us. It’s a burning down deep in our guts. We. Must. Respond. And usually when that response comes, it’s part and parcel with what has just been dealt to us. If it was anger, we respond in anger. If criticism, we respond with criticism of our own. If accusation, we respond with defensiveness. Whatever the case, we respond.
Curiously though, Jesus did not feel the same need as we do to always respond.
The prophet Isaiah predicted the non-response of Jesus:
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion reflect the same silence:
And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He didn’t answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Don’t You hear how much they are testifying against You?” But He didn’t answer him on even one charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed (Matthew 27:12-14).
So he kept asking Him questions, but Jesus did not answer him (Luke 23:9).
Interesting, right? Maybe even a little maddening? It gets inside us a bit because of the injustice. Here is Jesus, being falsely accused and maligned with all sorts of groundless accusations and insinuations, and He responds with … nothing. Silence. A closed mouth. It’s such an unbelievably stark contrast to our undeniable compulsion of response. It’s almost as if Jesus has some kind of freedom we do not have – a freedom whose fruit is silence. While we are enslaved by our need to have the last word, a clever quip, or some kind of drop-the-mic self-justification. Why, then, does Jesus have this freedom of non-response that eludes us? I would propose two reasons.