[Pilate] went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. (Jn 19:9)
He stood accused of a crime He didn’t commit, condemned already in the court of public opinion. Social networks, media giants, townspeople, soldiers, even religious leaders bought into the lies that’d been told about Him and turned violent in their hate. Riots broke out. Protests, screamed by angry voices. Those who’d stood by Him, hours ago, denied they even knew His name.
Punished unjustly and dragged, once more, before the judge, He was given a chance to offer a belated defense.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? (Jn 19:10)
This was His moment, His comeuppance. Here, He’d deny the allegations and give proof of His lineage. He’d tell how He’d descended from kings, from great fathers in the faith. With fire in His eyes, He’d show them who they were messing with, and the crowd, currently clamoring for His life, would fall eternally silent.
We want a Savior with a sword in His hand, leading a massive army, but pressed to the wall, whipped until He bled, His garments torn, His name mocked, Jesus said nothing at all until Pilate flexed His government muscles. Commentaries agree that Pilate’s question was authoritative.
You refuse to speak to me? (CJB)
Jesus put him in his place. “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (Jn 19:11) He knew His life served a greater purpose than any selfish defense. That the victory He would have would come through humility. Through sacrifice.
He knew the power of His Words, that anything He spoke would come to pass. He’d explained this, many times in His ministry. (Mk 11:24) This spiritual principle came into play at its greatest, facing the cross. Whatever He might have said to protect Himself would have undone the display of love that sent Him forward toward a cruel death and a glorious triumph.
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Php 2:8)
He didn’t take offense. He didn’t cast judgment. He didn’t make excuses or complain. He didn’t describe Himself and state His qualifications for being there. He didn’t even reply to Pilate’s question with something as simple as where He came from. Given the chance to save Himself, He didn’t talk at all. Because His words had already been spoken. His prayers made for you and me. (Jn 17) At that moment, “for the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb 12:2)
To bring us into a New Covenant, a better Covenant, with better promises, and complete, whole, salvation. (Heb 8:6) Because He loved the world that much.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (Heb 12:3)
Also: Read my devotional this month at Crossreads, "Things Unspoken."
Suzanne D. Williams, Author