[Willow Creek Association] 1998-05-20 - Silent Defense

I have often wondered why defense lawyers usually prefer for their clients to not to testify during a trial. My simple mind always figures those who don't testify must be guilty of something! A defense lawyer friend of mine tells me that silence is not an admission of guilt, but rather a tactic used to make the accusers prove their clients' guilt without the benefit of being able to twist some words of the defendant.

A more important and perplexing question to me during the past few years of studying and teaching the Bible, is why was Jesus for the most part was silent at His trials. He spoke briefly when a direct command was given to Him to speak, but all and all He was silent during his so-called trials.

Isaiah 53:7(NCV) He was beaten down and punished, but he didn't say a word. He was like a lamb being led to be killed. He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet while its wool is being cut; he never opened his mouth.

This passage made me believe for years, that perhaps He was silent because His silence fulfilled the prophecies. But that answer never seemed quite right to me. So I dug deeper into the Word. Look at the following passages:

Matthew 26:62-63 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Aren't you going to answer? Don't you have something to say about their charges against you?" But Jesus said nothing. Again the high priest said to Jesus, "I command you by the power of the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew 27:13-14 So Pilate said to Jesus, "Don't you hear them accusing you of all these things?" But Jesus said nothing in answer to Pilate, and Pilate was very surprised at this.

The preceding passages are typical of Jesus' defense during the mock trials. He was as a lamb before the shearers, silent. But why was He silent? Why not call down the legions of angels. Why not just zap the accusers?

Stay with me now, because I am going to give you the answer that recently came home to me. It was one of those "ah-ha!" moments. You know, an "ah-ha! Now I get it" moment. Watch this:

1 Peter 2:23-24 People insulted Christ, but he did not insult them in return. Christ suffered, but he did not threaten. He let God, the One who judges rightly, take care of him. 24 Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right.

Read Peter's words carefully. Why was Christ silent? He was silent because He was in our shoes, He was taking our place, He was wearing our sins, He had no defense, because we are guilty. All of us sin and fall short of God's glory. Jesus himself was innocent, but yet by proxy, He was guilty and therefore could say nothing. Wow...He was silent for me. He was silent for you. Which sins of yours did Jesus carry to the cross? ALL of them!

Do you realize now a little better what Christ did for you? Oh, man how can we not be so thankful for this? How can we not be "on fire" with love for Christ? How can we not want to be more like Him? We could never do for Him what He has done for us. But look at verse 24 again. He died so we would stop living a life for sin and turn to a life of living right. That's all we want to do. Out of our love and gratitude for what He has done for us, we should strive to live life right.

Father, thank You so much for Your Son Jesus, Who faithfully went to the cross for us, so that we may be forgiven for our sins and that we can be made right with You Father, and in the process, we can do life right. Forgive us when we fall short of Your mark. Give us Your strength and Your wisdom to continue in Your Word, so that we may bring glory and honor to You. In Christ's name, Amen.