The Long Silence

Matthew 26:60-63, ...many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, "this man said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'" And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 

Jesus' apparent blasphemy in response at this final question from the high priest Caiaphas caused the priest to tear his robe in anger. His responses, though short and almost always referential to the questioner, only incite the people further, and his long, slow, silence deafening in retrospect, as the eternal Son of God withstood injustice, mockery, and the pain of the cross. 

How quickly we mere humans are to correct a wrong about us: perhaps it's the thing that best exemplifies our self-centeredness. We find no more emotional pain than when we have been falsely accused, misunderstood, or shown to be in any negative light. We expend nuclear amounts of energy to correct these misapprehensions. This is Peter's sin, when confronted with the possibility of his connection to the criminal, he says, no not me. I will save face here, and save my life. Never could I stand, say I, for you to think less of me. And yet, we are so much less than we think, while we have a God who is perfect, and willing to be thrown to the wolves, so that we less-thans can be eternal everythings in the great family of God.

He would say, I will follow the will of my Father, and on doing so, will be reduced to a nothing. Yet by doing this, they will live; their voices will continue, their great clamor of praise to God in all their mighty churches will continue if I just be silent. You can imagine the leaders on the scene: the high priest, Pilate, and the like, thinking, careful, Jesus, you're going to get yourself killed. Only Jesus was thinking, they will be set free.

They said, 'crucify.' And he never said a mumblin' word.

The Roman soldiers played games with him. They joked about his ability to prophecy, about his royalty, and as would happen in us, he would know this injustice and want to destroy them. The difference is two-fold: he could have, and he didn't.  

He kept silent.

And yet then there is another silence that is deafening as we reflect on this Good Friday. We would have to endure the long, slow silence from the Father. Jesus carried with him our sins, and by doing so, separated himself from the Father, as was God's plan, taking the wrath of God on himself, which included a Father, whose intimacy with Son far outshines any relationship imaginable, who would not answer. There was that long and loud, painful silence. 

And on that third day, as he had predicted, the women and the disciples who would see that tomb, their silent paces turned to a thundering herd of joyful noise. And now we run, not as those escaping, but as children who run with noise, without a care in the world.