The silence of the Lamb - Midweek Message 3rd March 2021
After listening to James talking about the taming of the tongue last Sunday someone said to me that they felt pretty bad. I suspect they were not alone. As James himself says, ‘WE ALL stumble in many ways (3.2) and the use or abuse of our tongues is for all of us probably one of the most common ways. There is no doubting it is an area in which we all require vigilance, especially when we take seriously the destructive power of the tongue as James highlights it (3.5-8). He does want us to consider carefully how we exercise our tongues. He wants us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (1.19) and to keep a tight rein on our tongues ((1.26). However, his ultimate desire is not to drive us to despair, but to Christ.
If you read through the gospels and think about what came out of the mouths of his disciples at various times while he was with them, then you will understand that the Lord Jesus was, and is, very familiar with the sins of his people’s tongues. For example, there was the disciples’ doubting of his care for them in the boat in the middle of the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mk 4.38); Peter’s rebuking of him when he announced he was going to the cross (Mk 8.33); their rebuking of parents bringing children to Jesus (Mk 10.13) their arguing about who was the greatest (Mk 9.34) their bickering among themselves as to who would get the highest place in the coming kingdom (Mk 10.37,41) their expressed desire for judgment to fall on a Samaritan village (Lk 9.44); and Peter’s triple and very public denial of Jesus (Mk14.66-72) These are but a few, and would remind us Jesus is not taken by surprise by our personal sins of the tongue – the grumbling, the complaining, the gossip, the boasting, the profanity, the white lies, the angry words, etc we may have indulged or engaged in.
When we are made aware and convicted of our failings in such things here is something to remember - not so much the words of Jesus but his silence. Why is it that the gospel writers mention the silence of Jesus in regard to the charges levelled against him during his trial before the Jewish authorities and Pilate? (see Matt 26.63; 27.12-14; Mk 14.61; 15.4-5; Jn 19.9-10) It is because they see in that silence the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah about the suffering servant of God: 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 her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Is 53:7) Why was Jesus silent? Why did he make no attempt to defend himself or justify himself? Because he knew that in that trial and in the sentence that followed it, he was answering not for his own sins but for the sins of his people. As Isaiah had just said in that prophecy, he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities (53.5) His silence was the silence of the Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1.29)
Jesus was silent in his trial because he could not, and cannot, excuse or defend or justify our sins including the sins of our tongues (and we shouldn’t try either). However, he was also silent because he was more than willing to pay for them, to go silently and voluntarily to the cross there to offer himself on our behalf as the sinless sacrifice through which our lives and lips can be cleansed and forgiven and he can put a new song in our mouths, a song of praise to our God (see Ps 40.3)
In all our sins and failures - maybe especially of the tongue – never forget the silence of the Lamb! All our hope and healing is in Him.
Yours in Him,