Dying to Defensiveness How Silence Can Make Us More Like Jesus


Last Wednesday, I attended the Ash Wednesday contemplative service at my church. What a blessing to take an hour to simply rest and ponder the sacrifice Jesus made for us, for me. At various stations, we had the opportunity to read Psalms, take communion, remember Gethsemane, etc. When I read this verse, I was moved to tears despite its familiarity:

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. John 19:1-3

Scripture goes on to say that Pilate tried to set Jesus free (v. 12), but the Jews shouted for His crucifixion.

 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. ...” John 19:8-11

In the face of His accusers, Jesus remained silent.

Despite the humiliation, Jesus remained silent.

After brutal torture, Jesus remained silent.

When sentenced to death, Jesus remained silent.

His only reply was to set the record straight about Pilate’s power versus God’s. About defending Himself against false accusations, He remained silent. 

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

As I pondered these passages, I recalled my own responses to humiliation, false accusation, pain. I wasn’t silent.

I wondered what was worse, the humiliation or the physical pain? For me, I think that humiliation can be harder to experience than physical pain. I so easily slip into a defensive mode at a hint of accusation, whether or not it’s deserved. Just a look or tone of voice can be enough to incite a fire inside me. My response too often is one of indignation, retaliation, or self-righteousness.

And here was Jesus, deserving only praise and glory but being mocked and beaten. And His response was silence.

His silence had a purpose. It wasn’t necessary for Him to respond to these abusers because they were the tools that God would use to usher in our salvation.

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled… John 19:36

This is not a directive for us to suffer silently at the hands of bullies or abusers. Not ever! But it is an example for us to follow when we are quick to lash out in anger in response to being treated unfairly. There may be a purpose in our pain.

God never wastes a hurt; Jesus’ brother, James, encourages us with these verses:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

In these Lenten days, may we allow the injustices in our lives to produce Christ-likeness in us.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18

Susan Panzica is a Jewish Jersey girl who loves Jesus, her family, the ocean, and mangos. Her passion is to bring an eternal perspective to earthly matters through writing, speaking, teaching, and coffee dates. A quasi-emptynester who works with her chiropractor husband, she thoroughly enjoys when her college age children are home, with or without all their friends. Susan is a speaker, women and children’s Bible teacher, and writer of the devotional blog Eternity Café.

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