“And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace.” Matt.26:62, 63a
All too often Christ’s silence has been given a dangerous one-sidedness, as his passive obedience is stressed almost, if not altogether, to the exclusion of his active obedience. Christ’s silence was deliberate, emphatic and authoritative: it was his deed. The passivity of his suffering was real, but so was the activity of his obedience. Led as a lamb to the slaughter and like a sheep dumb before the shearers, he was active right up to and on the cross. He went as a king to die.
…Christ was quick to speak when his Messiahship was challenged (Matt.24:64). But he never spoke in obedience to man, always in obedience to his Father and in keeping with his mission. Because of his sublime and sovereign silence, he has earned the right to speak eternally. His silence was an act of mighty obedience to his Father’s will and a compliance with that wondrous mission entrusted to him in the counsels of eternity. Calvin says, ‘he is now our advocate before God, always having His mouth open.’ On Patmos John heard the voice of the risen Christ ‘like the sound of many waters.’ Hughes sees this as a reference to the ‘awe-inspiring majesty of his speaking.’ True; and yet his silence before the Sanhedrin was equally majestic, equally awe-inspiring.
At the very heart of his redemptive work there must be seen the infinite strength of the silent Saviour. In that ecclesiastical court Satan was tempting Christ with his own riddle, twisted though it was. By a single word he might have freed himself from his enemies. But our silent Priest continued majestically to his death. O blessed silence that lay at the heart of our redemption!
The Sanhedrin finally concluded its proceedings to its own satisfaction. This Holy Temple, the subject of the riddle, could now be broken down, to be raised in glory. Just as the first temple was erected without sound of hammer, or any iron tool ( 1 Kings 6:7), so this Temple of Christ’s body will be restored in a silence that nothing can profane.
Taken from chapter 5, “The Dumb Lamb” (based on Matt.26:62-63) by Frederick S. Leahy in The Cross He Bore: Meditations on the Sufferings of the Redeemer (Banner of Truth, 1996), p.28-29.