When we watch Jesus, who had been bombarded by noisy accusations from his enemies, stand silently in front of Pontius Pilate we wonder what’s gone wrong. Instead of firing back he silently surrenders. “And Pilate again asked him, ‘Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed” (Mark 15:4,5).
We dutifully go to you, God, when the bad news shocks our world but you are silent. “Have you no answer to make?” We reach out for you, Jesus, when a meaningful relationship goes bad, hoping for just a little jolt of happiness to get us through the day but a foggy silence shrouds us. “Have you no answer to make?” We ask you to help us defeat temptation but hearing nothing we give in – again – to the deceitful voice of our sinful self speaking on behalf of Satan. “Have you no answer to make?”
When was the last time you posted, texted, or emailed somebody about an urgent matter needing immediate attention and they didn’t get back to you. You stewed impatiently. You followed up and, again, didn’t hear, this time becoming a little irritated. When they finally got back to you, you discovered that they took care of the problem or project better than you had hoped. Silence doesn’t always mean disapproval, inattention, or too busy to help. Sometimes what we don’t hear from our Savior is the best answer of all. Sometimes it’s his silence that saves us.
The silence of the disciples watching in wonder while the Master washes his servants’ feet, the silence in Gethsemane after the Son pleads with the Father for another way, the silence as God’s corpse is carefully wrapped and buried in the earth he formed – that silence is the Lamb of God accepting his fate as the only way to save you.
Silence when the razor sharp scourge lacerates his skin and bone. Silence when razor sharp words cut his already bleeding heart. Silence when my accusations pierce his all-loving hands again.
When Satan petitions with all the powers of hell for heaven to recall my redemption. Silence. When my sins rightly call for my condemnation. Silence. When my own conscience sells me out as an unworthy fake and shameful mistake. Silence. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Sometimes it’s God’s silence that saves us.