Saturday, March 30, 2013
Why Jesus didn't speak a word
It seems Jesus was brought first to the household of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, that year's high priest (John). Annas referred the case on to his son-in-law, and after some questioning and severe beating by the people, Caiaphas had Jesus turned over to Pilate, the Roman Governor. Pilate, suspecting that the charges were trumped up and Jesus had done nothing wrong, tried to free him. When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, he tried to pass the responsibility on to Herod, saying that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction (Luke).
Luke goes on to say that Herod was delighted to have Jesus stand before him as he'd been curious to see him perform a miracle for a long time. Yet when he fired a barrage of questions at him, Jesus said nothing. Herod and his soldiers got tired of that, so after dressing him in a kingly robe and making fun of him, they sent him back to Pilate. At this point, Pilate once again tried to free him, but when the people behaved as if they were ready to start a riot, he decided to give the crowd what they demanded.
When I used to read Luke's account of the events, I wondered why Jesus refused to reply to Herod. As a young person, I assumed there must have been a touch of insolence there, some bravado like a schoolboy being called before the principal, whose only comeback is to sullenly clam up and ignore questions. But one day, in a book about God's favour, I came across an explanation which is completely different. Perhaps Jesus didn't speak because he was so powerful and full of so much favour from God that if he'd opened his mouth, he might have prevented himself from being crucified. The fact that the words we speak are surprisingly powerful has been in the media a lot recently, from both secular and spiritual sources. If this is the case, imagine the possible effect of any words from Jesus declaring his identity and innocence.
In Exodus, when Moses dared ask God's name, the Lord replied, 'Tell them I AM sent you.' That was always a confusing, bothersome scripture for me. What sort of a crazy name is that? Yet when the soldiers in the Garden said that they were looking for Jesus from Nazareth, he responded simply with the same words, 'I am he,' and it was enough to make the soldiers keel over with his power (John). It amazes me that they still had the audacity to take him before the high priest after that. I would have stuttered, 'Sorry sir, I think we got the wrong person,' and run away.
It does make sense that because Jesus knew his time had come, keeping quiet in Herod's court was to help make sure that God's plan was fulfilled. He had many chances to get out of the situation before. He'd always operated under God's favour and now was no different. He didn't have to be in Jerusalem at that time, he surely could have escaped in the Garden when the soldiers fell backwards, and Pilate was willing to let him go. Even Pilate's wife had a revelation in a dream that Jesus was an innocent man and sent a messenger to her husband, warning him not to harm Jesus (Matthew). Any ideas of Jesus as a victim and underdog I retained had to go. All the time, he was master of the whole situation and chose to face the Cross for us, when he could have got himself free at any time.
Many people understand that when Jesus died on the Cross as our sin substitute, part of the benefit for us is having our sin cleared away and forgiven when we look to him, because he willingly took our punishment. It follows that when God looks at us, he sees people who he regards just like his son, Jesus, because we've been cleansed from our sins. We're like the adopted siblings of Jesus and he's like our big brother. The Bible also calls us joint heirs of the kingdom of heaven. One of the most exciting parts of the Easter story for me is that as adopted children and joint heirs with Jesus, we may experience similar favour to that which he could've used to prevent him going to the Cross at all. Amazing! We don't need to think of ourselves as sinners, worms, hopeless cases, underdogs or losers either. Each Easter reminds me to act like it.
Our new position is what inspired Jesus, when risen, to assure us that we'd be able to do similar things to those he was recorded doing, and tell us to go everywhere in the world telling the Good News to everyone.
Have a blessed Easter, everyone.