I struggle with silence.
My coworker joked with me this week that I would make a lousy killer because I cannot keep my mouth shut. He is wrong, of course. I am good at keeping secrets. I’ve kept quite a few, and it was easy. But it is not that silence that bothers me.
I am also okay with not knowing every part of God’s plans and purposes. I learned long ago that God is in control and there are things I will never understand while alive on this earth. Sometimes I do wonder what His purpose is, but I never worry about God being silent, absent, or unfeeling. He is there, and He is working for my good. Even if I can’t (won’t) see it, feel it, or know it. So it is not this silence that bothers me.
What bothers me is the silence Jesus models in Matthew 26:63a and Mark 14:61a – “But Jesus kept silent” and in Matthew 27:12,14 and Mark 15:3-4 – “He answered nothing.” As He stood before His accusers, the religious leaders, He did not answer their accusations or defend Himself. He let them talk, accuse, berate, and hurl insults at Him. He silently absorbed their wrath, their hate, and their cruelty. He allowed Himself to be accused, beaten, and crucified, and He did it without once defending Himself, just as it was prophesied in Isaiah 53:7 (and quoted in Acts 8:32).
He didn’t bother to defend Himself. What good would it have done? It was a farce of a trial, where they had already decided He was guilty. So when He spoke, He gave a simple reply:
- Matthew 26:63-64, Mark 14:61-62 – “63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” 64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
- Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2 – 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”
He doesn’t elaborate. He doesn’t explain. He doesn’t do an in-depth teaching. He doesn’t even correct or verify. It was simply “as you say”, and He gave God the glory in His silence.
But what was He thinking? Were His thoughts a blur of cascading emotions bouncing off each other in rapid succession? Or was His mind as calm as His physical presence? Was He praying the people accusing Him? I have to believe that the Sinless Savior was peaceful in His body and His mind. That His thoughts were at complete peace at the salvation plan of God, despite the inhumane beating and cruel death He was about to face.
I have trouble identifying myself with this silence. If I relate to anyone, it would be Peter. Bold, impetuous, outspoken Peter. The disciple who declared Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:16). The same disciple who vehemently declares he will never deny Jesus (Matthew 26:31-35) and then quickly and brashly denies Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75). I believe he denied Jesus because Peter couldn’t keep quiet in the face of questions.
But Jesus was different from Peter. He spoke when He had something important to say. He spoke to teach eternal life lessons. He spoke to correct. He spoke to bless and speak life into people. He spoke to heal people inside and out. But in one of His most important moments, He spoke not. When interrogated by the religious leaders, He did not defend Himself. He remained silent.
And my human mind screams “how?” while my human emotions scream “why?” Even though I know how and why. Because He’s Jesus. Because He is God’s love in human flesh. Because He is the sinless Savior. But most importantly because He had a world to save. And His silence was part of that mission.
So I want to be Jesus. I want to be like the one who “kept silent and answered nothing” (Mark 14:61) when His name, His purpose, and His teachings were challenged. That’s complete peace of mind about who He was, what He was doing, and how it would turn out. Sure, He hoped for a different way, but He had complete peace of mind about God’s plans and purposes.
And I want the peace of mind I know Jesus had, where His thoughts weren’t jumbled or wondering or confused with thoughts unexpressed. I want to be stable and peaceful, not tossed around by the waves of my emotions (James 1:6-8). I want to see people for who they are and their intentions, not judging them by my standards and opinions (Matthew 7:1-5).
But I am so far from this point. I am getting better at quieting my tongue. But I have far to go on quieting my thoughts.
My mind is a minefield of unexpressed emotions and non-verbalized thoughts. It is dangerous territory. I convince myself of right and wrong, truth and justice, good and evil – all in my mind. I am quick to play judge and jury, to accuse and condemn with just a few (wrong) thoughts, misconceived notions, and bad ideologies. I can much too easily recite your list of faults and throw them back at you. I tend to silently recant all your faults and weaknesses in order to justify my behavior.
Why? Because I am human. Because I feel like Job does in Job 16:6 – “Though I speak, my grief is not relieved; And if I remain silent, how am I eased?” Because you won’t hear me. Because you won’t have a conversation with me. Because you will say it is all my fault. Because you will claim immunity (“I was just doing my job”) instead of taking any responsibility.
But how I want to feel is like Jesus. Completely at peace in heart, body, and mind. I want to feel like Psalm 62:1 – “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation” and Psalm 62:5 – “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.” I want to have peaceful thoughts and a quiet mind.
I want my thoughts to be focused on Him instead of accusations. I need my thoughts to be filled with how much I need Him, how much I’ve been forgiven, and how far I have come because of Him. I long for my thoughts to be silent of accusations and faults. I want to get to Paul’s level of peace that he shares in Philippians 4:8 where my mind is dedicated to God – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things“.
But I am not there yet. I will continue to work on it, and I know by His grace I will get there situation by situation and thought by thought.
What do you struggle with?
What do your thoughts look like?
Maybe we can support each other.
— Marie Fremin, 9/12-13 and 9/27/15