The power of words and the potency of silence

All He would have had to do was say the right words and His agony would have vanished into thin air. But He remained eloquently silent and went His way. Join us as we look at the silent twists and turns on Jesus’ way to the cross.

Imagine you have something really tough ahead of you and one of your best friends says, “No, this is not going to happen. We are going to do something about this.” Who would not love to be held back by such a loving friend?

And Jesus? He told his friend Peter off, “You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16: 23). Christ would not allow Himself to be deterred. He had a mission. And He knew the way.

He always had the end in mind

In fact, He even set in motion the decisive course of world history. At the Last Supper, He saw what was going on in Judas’s mind. It would have been so easy for Jesus, who raised the dead and restored sight to the blind, to set the traitor straight. But Jesus chose the words that ultimately served all of humankind, “What you do, do quickly” (John 13: 27).

The last time the disciples saw Judas in Gethsemane, Peter, who was a hot-head, was reprimanded again. “Put your sword into the sheath” (John 18: 11), Jesus told him. He was master of the situation, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26: 53). But He refused to allow Himself to be saved, for the sake of His goal. He said, “Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18: 11).

Tribunals without direction

And then there was this proverbial odyssey from Pontius to Pilate, the game of the three unwilling judges passing the buck. How easily could a defendant have taken advantage of their hesitation and dithering?

The high priest Caiaphas and his fellow councillors were certainly willing to pronounce judgement, but they could not execute it. Pontius Pilate who had the power to execute the sentence did not want to judge, “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23: 4). And the tetrarch Herod Antipas even harboured sympathies for Jesus. It says that he was glad to see Jesus because he had been looking forward to it for a long time: “He had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23: 8).

He pronounced His own judgement

By keeping silent and not responding to the accusations, Christ exposed the powerlessness of the powerful. Whether before the high council (“Do You answer nothing?” Mark 14: 60), with Herod (“Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.” Luke 23:9), or Pilate (“Are You not speaking to me?” John 19: 10).

But when Jesus did speak, He passed judgement against Himself, his own self. “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? Jesus said: ‘I am’” (Mark 14: 61–62). And: “Are you the King of the Jews? He answered and said to him, ‘It is as you say,’” (Mark 15: 2).

Those were the silent twists and turns. But from here the path led straight to the cross.

Given, not taken

The episode in which Pilate exercises his sovereign control (John 19: 10, 11) shows how confidently Jesus goes His way. “Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” The Son of God answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”

All the stages of His journey confirm what Christ states in John 10: 18 about His own life, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.” And why? The answer is simple, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31: 3). Even if you, dear reader, do not feel this love in your life right now or do not even believe in it, God has always loved you. And this is what this day, Good Friday, bears witness to like no other day.

Photo: Gosgrapher -

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Andreas Rother
Christian holidays, Good Friday