“Like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
One of the most amazing things about Jesus was His ability to teach. He was a master orator. When He finished His famous Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). Jesus’ teaching was nothing short of amazing. When He spoke, people listened.
In addition to Jesus’ great preaching skills He was a master debater. He could silence His critics in the toughest of arguments. For instance, on Tuesday of Passion Week Jesus’ opponents were getting desperate. They had to find a way to bring reproach upon His name. This being the case, “the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words” (Matthew 22:15). They sent their disciples who questioned Him about taxes. Then Sadducees came and tried to trap Him with a theological question about the resurrection. Finally, a lawyer asked about the commandments thinking it would cause Jesus to stumble (see Matthew 22:15-40). Every question they asked Him had no right answer. Any way Jesus responded He would be wrong—pitting Himself either against the Jews or Rome. It was a lose-lose situation. But amazingly, Jesus answers each question with abundant wisdom and skill, not only avoiding their traps but shaming His opponents (22:41-46).
There is no question that Jesus possessed unique skills and abilities when it came to public speaking; particularly in the realm of debate against those who opposed Him.
On the day Jesus died, however, we see something completely different. After He was arrested, Jesus was taken before the Jewish council to be judged. There they falsely accused and slandered Him. At once, the “high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” He was demanding that Jesus answer the accusations being made against Him. “But Jesus remained silent” (Matthew 26:62-63). In fact, the only answer Jesus did give was the one that guaranteed His death (Matthew 26:64-68).
After this He was led away to Pilate where the religious leaders once again falsely accused Him and demanded His crucifixion. “Then Pilate said to [Jesus], ‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed” (Matthew 27:13-14).
To both the religious leaders and Pilate Jesus did not defend Himself. In all of this, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
So, why did Jesus remain silent? He had the ability to silence His critics with His amazing skills of rhetoric and debate. Why say nothing?
He kept His mouth shut so that His enemies would have their day. He remained silent in order to be sent to the cross where He would take upon Himself the sin of His people and the judgment of God as our substitute.
My Christian friend, on this Good Friday, consider the one who did not open His mouth, and then open yours to celebrate and sing praises to the Lord for “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).