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The Silence of Jesus
He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53v7)
He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked (1 John 2v6).
As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb- yea, He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53v7).
I will dwell in them and walk in them (2 Corinthians 6v16) is the promise of God, and only as this promise is fulfilled to the believer, can the ‘Silence of Jesus’ be known in the daily life. As we trace out the pattern of the walk of Christ on earth that we may ‘follow His steps’, let us remember that it is not that we may copy Him, but rather that we have before us the pattern of the way, ‘the life of Jesus’ will be manifested in our mortal body, as He ‘walks’ in us, and we intelligently yield ourselves to Him to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Let us first note in the pattern of His life.
1. His Silence over His blessing of others.
He sent him away to his house saying, Neither go into the town nor tell it to any (Mark 8v26).
He charged them that they should tell no man (Mark 7v36).
Was it that He wanted to be hidden and silently to bless and help souls and then pass on? ‘He shall not strive nor cry: neither shall anyone hear His voice in the streets’ (Matthew 12v19) said the prophet Isaiah of the promised Messiah. The Master’s work was so ‘modest’ and done with as little ‘noise’ as possible. It is said of some whom He charged to be silent over what He had done for them ‘so much the more they published it’, so that His fame went abroad and He was given much trouble to deal with the multitudes. The lesson just for us as to the ‘silence of Jesus’ in this respect is that we should not ‘publish abroad’ the ‘fame’ of the instrument God uses in blessing us, but rather that we tell what the Lord hath done, and allow His servants to pass on in quiet unobtrusiveness to do His work.
2. His Silence in delicate difficulties.
When therefore the Lord knew how that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making . . . more disciples than John . . . He left Judea (John 4v1-3).
The Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard. Reports even came to Him, and He took trouble to answer these ‘reports’ by wise action. He could not allow even apparent rivalry between His great forerunner, John the Baptist, and Himself, in the eyes of the religious world. So He simply and quietly withdrew. The trouble was met by His silence and His self-effacing action. So may it be with us to ‘give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully’. Let there be wise action in similar circumstances and silence, so that others are not hurt. ‘In honour preferring one another.’
3. His Silence over the glory of the Mount.
He was transfigured before them . . . As they were coming down from the mountain He charged them that they should till no man what things they had seen.
Whilst the Lord Jesus walked on earth as Man, only the three disciples knew of that glory on the Mount. The world did not know, neither did the majority of the followers of Jesus, for we are told the chosen three ‘kept the saying’.
There is a good lesson for us in this ‘Silence of Jesus’ regarding His sacred hours on the Transfiguration Mount. The Apostle had learnt it when he wrote to the Corinthians concerning the abundance of the revelations given to him of God. ‘I forbear, lest any man should account of me above that which he seeth me to be’ (2 Corinthians 12v6). The reticence of the Bible is very wonderful when we consider it. The veil is lifted off the things of God, only just enough to give a glimpse into the unspeakable glory for those who are admitted within the veil. Detailed accounts of God’s deepest and most sacred dealings with His children, are, if not wrong, at least not wise, lest, as Paul said, we ‘glory in men’ and account them to be ‘above’ what they really are. Again there is also the danger of the ‘natural man’ unable to receive the things of the Spirit, turning away, saying ‘This is a hard saying’, and walking no more with the Lord, stumbled by things he cannot understand. The ‘Silence of Jesus’ over the glory of the Mount is a message to all those who know something of the Mount of Transfiguration, to keep God’s secrets until God’s time comes to make the hidden things manifest to the world.
4. His Silence over the path of the Cross.
The cup that I drink ye shall drink, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized (Mark 10v39).
This was all that He said to the men who asked to share His throne. He did not describe in detail what ‘drinking the cup’ would mean. It would be time enough when they came to it. ‘Ye cannot bear them now’, He tenderly said of the ‘many things’ upon His heart ere He went to Gethsemane. He told them of the Cross, and that it would mean some cost, but of that path through the valley of deep darkness He was silent. Let us then co-operate with His restraining hand upon us, when He keeps us from exposing too fully the path of the Cross, as well as the Mount of Glory. The ‘glory’ would overpower the babes, and so would the way of Calvary. God will lead us all on as we are able to bear it. Let us be tender with the babes, and yet not shrink from faithful speaking when God's time is come.
5. His Silence over the Traitor disciple.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me. The disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake (John 13v21-22).
So silent had He been, so lovingly had He treated Judas as one of the rest, that they had no idea who He meant. Never by word or look had He shown them the traitor. How ‘displeased’ the ten were with the two disciples who asked for the Throne (Mark 10v41), so how could the Lord Jesus expose Judas, or arouse their partiality, and produce division amongst His little band? Let us be silent in similar circumstances, and not arouse partiality in those who care for us, when God is leading us to Calvary through the instrumentality of a Judas. Let us never speak if we can avoid it of the human instruments in the pathway of the Cross, nor omit the stooping to wash their feet. To ‘bless’ those who ‘despitefully use you’ (Matthew 5v44) is just what Jesus did.
6. His Silence over the deep things of God.
These things I said not unto you from the beginning . . . I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now (John 16v4 &12).
He spake the Word unto them, as they were able to bear it (Mark 4v33-34).
The power and the need of silence in the spiritual life must have grown upon us, as we have followed from point to point the example of the Lord. Silence over the ‘glory’, silence over the suffering path, and now silence over the things of God which are beyond the stage of growth of others who look to us for help. The apostle Paul also learnt his lesson. ‘I fed you with milk and not with meat, for ye were not able to bear it’, he writes again to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3v1-2). To ‘confess Christ’ is quite a different thing to our forcing ‘strong meat’ on babes.
7. His Silence over questions.
Lord, how? ---- In that day ye shall ask Me no question (John 14v22 & 16v23).
The Lord knew that nothing but the experimental teaching of the Holy Spirit could unfold to these disciples all they wanted to know. How full of questions we are. --- Why? How? When? How we want spiritual things made clear and plain to our minds, forgetting that God wants to do for us exceeding abundantly above all we can ask and think. How wisely the Lord dealt with His questioning disciples. The ‘silence of Jesus’ here is indeed a need for all who are in the position of teaching others. He only answered the question with the words, ‘You shall know by and by’. The ‘Holy Spirit will teach you’. ‘Wait’. Let us thus leave our own questions with God, and lead other questioning hearts to do the same, knowing that in God’s time we shall ‘know’ all He thinks it good for us to know.
8. His Silence in false accusation.
And the chief priests accused Him of many things. And Pilate again asked Him saying, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? Behold how many things they accuse Thee of.’ But Jesus no more answered anything; insomuch that Pilate marvelled (Mark 15v3-5).
The apostle Peter writes years afterwards of this wonderful silence of the God-Man. ‘ When He was reviled, He reviled not again. When He suffered, He threatened not.’ His silence was Divine. No merely human being could have been dumb in this way, and being innocent and guiltless allow himself to be ‘led’ as a lamb to the slaughter. To be as a sheep dumb in the hand of the shearers. This silence before Pilate and then the silence on the Cross in the midst of untold agony - silence only broken seven times with brief words of wonderful meaning - this silence of Jesus was the climax to a life of God-like silence in circumstances when men must speak. A life of silent waiting until thirty years of age before He entered on public ministry, and made His lamb-like way to the Cross; a life of silence over glory unspeakable with His Father, and suffering untold at the hands of men; of tender silence over blessing to others, and over Judas’ traitor path.
This is the pattern for all who would ‘follow His steps’. The pattern for the one who would ‘walk as He walked’, by His walking again in them. And how can it be? Only by seeing the ‘calling’ and accepting it (1 Peter 1v15). And by taking His Cross as our Cross, ‘we having died’ in Him, and with Him, can thus live unto God, and then the silence of Jesus can be known in truth, and we shall be:
‘Silent’ in our lowly service among others, not seeking to be ‘seen of men’.
‘Silent’ over the glory of the hours on the Mount, lest others think of us above that which is written.
‘Silent’ over the depths of the Calvary pathway that led us to God.
‘Silent’ over the human instruments permitted of God to hand us over to the judgment hall, and the forsaking of our nearest and dearest.
‘Silent’ whilst we stood to serve the very ones who have betrayed us.
‘Silent’ over the deep things of God revealed in the secret place of the Most High, things ‘impossible to’ utter to those who have not yet been ‘baptized’ with that baptism without which they will be ‘straitened’ in spiritual perception ‘until it is accomplished’.
‘Silent’ over questions only to be answered by God the Holy Ghost, when ‘that day’ dawns for the questioning heart, and silences all doubt by the glorious revelation of Him Who is the answer to all our need.
‘Silent’ when forced by others to some position where apparent rivalry with another much-used servant of God seems imminent, only to be hushed by utter self-effacement, and our silent withdrawal without explanation, irrespective of our ‘rights’.
‘Silent’, yea ‘Silent’, in the judgment hall of our co-religionists, when criticised and falsely accused of many things.
Thou Anointed Christ - the Lamb of God - Thou alone canst live this life of silent self-effacement in a world of self-assertion and self-love. Live Thou this life in me.
These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth (Revelation 14v4).