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Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled By Jesus Christ

Chapter Eight

The Silence of the Saviour

Prophecy - Isaiah 53:7
Fulfillment - Matthew 27:13-14, Mark 15:3 & 5, Luke 23:9, John 19:9

The New Testament reveals that there were occasions when Jesus refused to speak in His own defense. Although Isaiah prophesied that such times would occur, it is difficult to understand why our Lord did so. In this study, we will look at those occurrences and try to grasp their significance.

Let us begin this study by first recognizing the importance of the words of Christ. Most of the time, the Bible calls our attention to His words, not His silence. As Christians we recognize that both the works and words of Jesus are extremely important to our faith. For example, the Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters five, six and seven of Matthew, is filled with messages which are vital to the well-being of the church in every age. In addition to that significant sermon, the Gospels are filled with words spoken by Jesus. The saved have often found comfort and instruction through His words. Divinely recorded in Scripture, they are vital to Christianity and we need to understand the importance of them.

In the long ago, great crowds often gathered to hear Jesus speak because they valued His words. Once Roman soldiers risked putting their lives in jeopardy because they were so impressed with His message. They had been sent to arrest Jesus but they returned empty handed. When questioned as to why they had not arrested Him, “The officers answered, Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). How true, then and now! Today many have rediscovered His words and have been immeasurably blessed by them. Jesus spoke to give comfort in times of heaviness (John 14:1) and to fill the heart with joy at other times (John 15:11). The Bible reminds us that His disciples “...remembered his words” (Luke 24:8). Like His disciples, we are often blessed as we remember His words and share them with others.

Just as the words of Jesus were important, so also was His silence. Having established the importance of His words, we will now consider the purpose of His silence. Notice that the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7 did not focus on the words of Christ, but rather His silence. Everyone needs times of solitude and silence but there is more involved in the silence of our Saviour. His silence was intended to speak volumes. Although we may never fully understand the messages of His silence, may we prayerfully ponder each passage where His silence is called to our attention.

The first passage is found in Matthew 15:23, which reads; “But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.” This occurred when “a woman of Canaan” asked Jesus for help because her daughter was “grievously vexed with a devil.” It is interesting to note that at first Jesus did not reply to her request; He was silent. That is difficult for us to understand because it is so out of character for Christ. The Bible tells us that Jesus “...went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil...” (Acts 10:38). Why did He not help her by responding immediately to her plea?

Probably neither the woman or the disciples were able to understand why Jesus remained silent for a while. His disciples suggested that He send her away, but Jesus would not do so. Then, after a period of silence, Jesus began to talk to her. In the conversation which follows, Jesus said some things to her which are difficult for most of us to understand. You and I might have felt insulted, but the woman did not seem to be offended at all by what He said. Instead of taking offence, she reasoned with Jesus and continued to request help for her daughter. She literally begged for the crumbs that fell from the Master’s table. “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28). Silent at first, Jesus later graciously granted her petition. So why the change? What purpose was there for His initial silence?

It has not pleased God to share His reason with us but we can venture a guess. I believe there was a purpose in what Jesus did and I like to think that His silence cultivated patience in the woman. She certainly possessed strong faith, but most of us need a bit more patience. Perhaps she did too. By Jesus not speaking and forcing her to wait on the blessing He would inevitably give, patience was required. The Christian life certainly requires patience, according to Hebrews 12:1 which says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Christian endeavors are every bit as difficult as running in a race. Therefore, as the runner needs patience, so does the child of God. We need patience to wait upon answered prayers and the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The second time we note the silence of our Saviour was when Peter denied Him three times. Luke 22:61 states, “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” This time it does not tell us that Jesus was silent, but neither does the Bible record any words He spoke to Peter. There seems to have been a time of silence when Jesus turned and just looked at Peter. Earlier Jesus told Peter that he and all the disciples would forsake Him. He spoke the words of another ancient prophecy recorded in Zechariah 13:7 which reads, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” Of course, Peter denied that he would ever forsake or deny Jesus (Matthew 26:33) and even declared that he would be willing to die for Christ (Matthew 26:35). Not only did he deny Christ but did so three times, exactly as Jesus said he would. When the third denial was spoken, the cock crowed and Jesus turned to look at Peter. Jesus did not speak a word of condemnation, none was necessary. He did not say, “I told you so,” as many would have done. Silently, the Saviour looked at Peter and the message was loud and clear. Here, the reason for the Saviour’s silence seems more evident. As Jesus silently looked at Peter, he was convicted of his sin and “went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). It was not the power of Jesus’ words that convicted the heart of Peter, it was the power of His silent look. At other times the words of our Lord were so powerful they could subdue a storm (Matthew 8:27) or enable Peter to do what none of us can do, walk on the water (Matthew 14:29). This time, it was the silence of Jesus that stirred his heart.

In the silence of the Saviour we should be convicted of our sins today. We understand that He sees and knows all that we think, feel, or do. Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” May His silent look from heaven cause us to repent of our sins that we may feel the wonderful blessing of forgiveness. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The third period of the Saviour’s silence, has to do directly with the prophecy of Isaiah. He said, “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” (Isaiah 53:7). By those examples, Isaiah foretold of Christ’s silence before His accusers. Consider what Isaiah said in connection to the following passages. Matthew 27:14 says, “And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.” Mark 15:3 states, “And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.” Luke 23:9 tells us, “Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.” Finally, John 19:9 says, “And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.” In all four Gospels, the message is the same, Jesus remained silent before His accusers, even Pilate. Accusations were hurled against Him, but He did not speak in His own defense. The silence of the Saviour is indisputable; it happened just as it was prophesied.

One fact is extremely clear; Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:36). If any doubt lingers in your mind, let me call your attention to the words in Acts 8:32-33, for they correspond to Isaiah 53:7-8. The surrounding passage tells of an Ethiopian Eunuch, who while returning to his homeland, was reading from Isaiah’s prophecy. When he came to the seventh and eighth verses of chapter fifty three, he became confused. The angel of the Lord sent Philip to preach to the Eunuch (Acts 8:26). The Eunuch did not understand who Isaiah was talking about; so Philip explained it to him. The Bible tells us, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Isaiah was not talking about himself, he was talking about Jesus. Approximately eight hundred years before it happened, Isaiah actually prophesied of Jesus standing silent before Pilate. What a wonderful testimony of the sovereignty of God.

More than that, it is one of many infallible proofs that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Multitudes had awaited His coming; yet, when He came, most of them never realized He was in their midst and His name was Jesus. John wrote, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13). Thank God, by the new birth, the Holy Spirit has revealed this wonderful truth to us.

Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, and our blessed Saviour, came into this world to save us from sin to heaven’s glory. He took our sins upon Himself and died for us and all God’s elect. Just as Isaiah foretold, Jesus was silent as a lamb before the slaughter and as a sheep before the shearers is dumb (silent). Isaiah used two examples that would depict Christ before His crucifixion death. With all the events that shortly awaited Him, Jesus stood before Pilate as silent as a lamb, and in doing so He revealed His true identity as the Lamb of God. By His silence He fulfilled the Scriptures and thereby allowed us to see God’s Lamb just before He was offered on the altar of the cross as a Sacrifice for all whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Oh, the silence of the Saviour! Truly, in His silence, He said more than our hearts can embrace.

Perhaps this is the meaning of Zephaniah 3:17 which states, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Notice that the prophecy said “he (God) will rest in his love.” The Hebrew word charash meant “rest,” to be silent; as when a lawyer rests his case and has nothing more to say. So the prophecy seems to describe God, Who having declared His love, silently showed just how much He really does care for us. We know that He has revealed His love in many ways. John reminds us of one way God showed His love and described it in 1 John 4:10 which tells us, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” These words are designed to remind us of what He DID for us. God clearly manifested His love for us when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. The most beautiful and meaningful evidence of love is always what we do for others (1 John 3:18). In His silence, He showed “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of His love (Ephesians 4:18). Oh, the riches of His grace!

In many ways, God silently manifested His love for His people. He showed us His love by giving us Jesus, His only begotten Son (John 1:14). Jesus showed His love for us by dying for our sins on the cruel cross of Calvary. He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). As God incarnate, He could have come down from the cross, for He possesses all power (Matthew 28:18). Why did He remain on the cross to suffer and ultimately die for us? It was because He was silently showing us that He loved us. He did not have to say a word; in His silence He showed His eternal love for us and all His elect.

In closing let me remind you of these words: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”. ... “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 7). God is telling us that in His purposes, there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. Jesus gave power and meaning to those ancient words, both when He spoke and when He remained

silent. Clearly, there are lessons to be learned from the silence of the Saviour. By His silent manifestations of love, Jesus taught us that it is important for us to show our love for each other. We should be guided by the pattern of His love. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Even if people tell you repeatedly “I love you,” you will be reluctant to believe them unless they often show it by their actions. Actions prove that love is genuine. Sometimes we talk about our love for God; let us follow His glorious example and live a life that shouts “I love Him,” even when we do not say a word. May we thank God every day for the silence of our beloved Saviour. Amen

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This page last updated on November 1, 2015