Jesus: Silent before the Shearers
Larry Kirkpatrick ++ Mentone Church of Seventh-day Adventists ++ 29 September 2001
He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.
Today, as we gather for communion, let us consider the silence of Jesus. Betrayed with a kiss, "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth." What does it mean?
They led Him away in the dark of the night. They came and apprehended Him by torch-light. They came with staves and clubs. He could have extinguished them by merely calling the Father to intervene; nothing but a charred crater would have remained. But He closed His mouth, let them lead Him away, take Him to a kangaroo court, and condemn Him for blasphemy.
Why was He silent when there was so much to say?
John 12:27 reminds us of the very real challenge, the choice between following-through, suffering for a broken race, and departing voluntarily to His Father as He had come from His Father. "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour."
Jesus went up on the cross, the innocent for the guilty. He took His place side by side with the condemned. Crucified between two thieves, He could have called down God's wrath. Instead, the cry escaped His sorrowing lips, "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?" The suffering tones of the 22nd Psalm rent the sky. He prayed the prayer in silence, as Hebrew tradition reminds us. While He was silent, and the sword of God's wrath was upon Him in our place, we can read in that 22nd Psalm something of what He experienced.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him. But thou art He that took Me out of the womb: thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother's breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from my mother's belly. Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed Me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round. They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; and thou hast brought Me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture. But be not thou far from Me, O LORD: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me. Deliver My soul from the sword; My darling from the power of the dog. Save Me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns. (Psalm 22:1-21).
Jesus' prayer was in fact, Psalm 22. We know that form the words He used. But He prayed it in silent.
Some think Jesus died on the cross merely to demonstrate God's love for us. But it was more. He died, yes, to pay a penalty in our behalf, with a life that measured beyond our own. He was God in human flesh. The flesh He lived out the gospel in was identical to our own in every respect. And still He overcame, still He lived by the power of the Holy Spirit, still He was victorious. His character measured as a divine character, for He was God. He only had a character equal to the law of God, for He was God. He only could make atonement for that holy law, for His character only was holy enough. He had to be God to pay the penalty of transgression; He had to be man, and with fallen-flesh at that, in order to die.
The Bible says that "He [the Father] hath made Him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [the Son]" (2 Corinthians 5:21). And it was on the cross where Jesus was made to be sin for us. He bore our penalty on the tree. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (2 Peter 3:18).
Jesus died in our place, He took our fate, that we deserved, and brought us to God, to receive what we did not deserve. And just as He was put to death in the flesh, as He died bearing our form, we also are quickened by the Spirit just as He. We also are made alive by He who empowered our Jesus.
Today we remember His death, till' He come. And because He was silent before the shearers, because He was willing to die in our stead, we may have eternal life through Him.
He is our Example in how He lived, and He is our Substitute in how He died. Eternal life comes to us only because of both aspects of what our Lord did for us, and what flows today from what happened back then.
Brothers and sisters, let us today remember the death of Jesus for us. He brings life to your doorstep. Thank Him today. He is the Lord our God, and we will rejoice and be glad in Him, and remember His death till' He come. When He comes it will not be in silence, but in grandeur and with the last trumpet call. And then you and I will see Him as He is.
God grant us that day's rapid arrival, is our prayer. (Last modified 3 October 2001).
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