Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though 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 said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
(Matthew 26:57-68 ESV)
After hearing the erroneous and conflicting testimony of two witnesses the high priest stood up and said to Jesus “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” The high priest wanted Jesus to defend Himself against these charges. But Jesus remained silent.
Jesus certainly could have mounted a perfectly indisputable defense. He could have called forth hundreds of people who would have witnessed to His character. He could have referenced all His miracles which proved His deity. He could even have performed a miracle right in front of His accusers. But He didn’t.
Jesus remained silent not because He was afraid or because He had nothing to say. He remained silent out of patience and courage. Jesus had faith in God and God’s plan for His future – a future that included the cross.
It was also God’s plan that Jesus remain silent. Hundreds of years before these events God foretold that the Messiah would not defend Himself [Psalm 38:12-14; Isaiah 53:7]. Jesus’ silence was also obedience.
All Christians have found themselves being confronted by baseless charges. As you can probably imagine I get a lot of comments on my blog entries, including attacks on God or personal attacks on me. The things that people claim are not true but what good would it do to respond? Sometimes the best defense is no defense.
When we respond to baseless charges that are put forth out of hate and with malicious intent – not to mention without supporting evidence – we give those charges legitimacy just by responding. But since there is no satisfactory evidence we can offer to our accuser, any response we make will convince them they are right and will, therefore, drive them further away from God.
When we reprove a scoffer we just encourage them to insult and abuse us more [Proverbs 9:7, 15:12, 23:9]. Any further response will simply perpetuate this cycle of abuse and defense with no positive outcome. We saw a great example of this in the Old Testament when King Hezekiah was being goaded by Rabshakeh in front of all of Israel. Rather than dispute Rabshakeh’s lies, Hezekiah commanded the people to say nothing [Isaiah 36:18-21].
Such has always been the case. Scoffers have always existed and always will [2 Peter 3:3-4; Jude 1:18].
Those of us who are God’s adopted children [John 1:12] are called upon to endure the lies and slander out of obedience to God and for the good of our enemy. To defend oneself in these situations is to care more about our own reputation than to care about the salvation of our adversary. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do to someone who makes false accusations against us is to remain silent.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.