"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." Isaiah 53:7It would be good for us to keep this prophecy from Isaiah about the Messiah in mind as we read through the account of Jesus' Passion. As we continue to study the account of Christ's crucifixion, we should be struck by His meekness amid the jeers, accusations, and assaults. We see the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7 in the behavior of Jesus as He is accused and condemned to death on a cross. Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
And Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" And he answered him, "You have said so." And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, "Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you." But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:2-5We have the Christ, before Pilate. We see His perfect submission to the plan of the Father, and we, along with Pilate, are shocked at His silence. What does it say about our God that He would be so obedient to the point of death? Why would Jesus not give a rebuttal, a refutation of the charges being held against Him? In part, to fulfil the prophecy, but even more to display God's very nature. Christ's meekness demonstrated the love He has for us, and the hatred He has of sin and death.
Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. Mark 15:6-11Barabbas was an anarchist murderer and the crowds preferred him to the Son of God. Christ had mended the lame and gave sight to the blind, healed the sick and raised the dead. Barabbas rebelled against the government and stole life in his protesting. Even still the crowd desired the blood of their Healer and freedom for the insurgent. In many ways, don't we fall into this same trap? Forsaking the Lord who has upheld us and served us while embracing the world that destroys us and distracts us from true and pure joy?
And Pilate again said to them, "Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" And they cried out again, "Crucify him." And Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him." So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Mark 15:12-15The crowds were so frenzied, they couldn't even answer the crucial question, "why?" The inquiry that would sentence a man to death was left unresolved. The question of "why?" would be left unanswered; the question that would condemn Jesus would never have a proper answer from the crowds, quite frankly because there isn't a sufficient answer to be given. There is no satisfactory reasoning to the question "Why does the Son of God, the King of Kings, deserve to die?" There was no evil in Him and no deceit was found in His mouth. But He was sentenced to die the death that was reserved for heinous criminals. All the while, a blameful, convicted sinner walked free in His place. Aren't each of us who believe in Jesus Christ the same kind of beneficiary as Barabbas? Have we not walked free in our sin because of the sacrifice of our God?
And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:17-20They clothed Him in royal garments only to rip them away in ridicule. They fashioned Him a crown that would pierce and brutalize His head. They took His very identity and King of Kings and God incarnate and stripped Him of dignity. He absolutely suffered physically, but the mental pain was certainly as horrific. Abandoned by friends, denied by disciples, sentenced to death by the people of whom He came to serve. We, too, attempt to strip God of His glory and His name. We are the mockers that humiliated Him.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" Luke 23:33-37Christ pleaded forgiveness on behalf of those pillaging His belongings and ransacking His dignity. Jesus undoubtedly had the power to leap from the cross, testifying His oneness with the Father and Spirit, chose to stay nailed to the tree. During all of the suffering He endured, Christ still spoke of nothing but grace and mercy. He still chose to submit, though being scorned and belittled.
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Mark 15:33-34The Christ was feeling the weight of our sin. Each and every egregious remark made by you and me. Each and every felonious assault. Each and every whisper of slander that has come from our lips. And in bearing this burden He felt separated from the Father, torn apart from the perfect unity and community that occurs in the Trinity. And Christ wasn't deluded in His speech, as the onlookers assumed. This phrase had a distinct purpose. He was quoting a Davidic psalm of lament.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet, you are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:1-3Psalms are meant to be sung, and in this guttural cry to God the Father, Jesus Christ sang a song of David. He sang a song that you and I would have sung. That you and I do sing. He proclaimed what our souls groan day in and day out. All of this for obedience to the Father. All for the freedom of us. Let's go back to that verse from Isaiah. Oppressed. Silent. Afflicted. But, silent. Led to slaughter. Yet, silent. Sheared and stripped. Still, silent. Why would He commit to such silence? Why would He allow the mockery to go uncorrected, unpunished? God omnipotent absolutely didn't have to endure such scandalous crimes against Him. He remained silent for our sake. Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.