Silence on The Cross
We read in the gospel: “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One’” (Luke 23:35).
Amazingly, during the final hours of his life, Jesus Christ was mostly silent. Considering all the injustice levelled against him, his silence is almost irritating! At the trial He was very quiet. But now on the cross we hear hardly a word – certainly not in response to his tormentors. Why, O why, was He so quiet? The answer rests in the fact that He is the second Adam who came to pay for the sins of the first Adam and all of God’s elect children. In Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”
He was brought under the curse of the law, the eternal burden of God’s wrath, and He became deserving of hell. What right did he have to open his mouth at that moment? He had no right. He had no right to defend himself. He was guilty. What is there to say? Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, He remained dumb, and He did not open his mouth. This is the silence of the Lamb.
We need to understand that all those people milling around on Golgotha with their despicable and blasphemous insults – as much as they could have been corrected and rebuked – was not the issue. The issue was between God and the second Adam. God was saying to Jesus Christ: do you willingly take the sins of your people on yourself and are you willing to pay for those sins? The second Adam responded: Lo, I have come to do your will, O my God. And so God thundered down his judgment – so awful because his wrath burns against our miserable sins which now rested on this lamb, this scapegoat. He thundered: into the curse you go, into three hours of darkness, the agony of hell. And in obedience, Christ was silent. The condemned man has had his last word. What more could He say? All He could do was be obedient to God and pay for our sins. Yes, in agony He blurted out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But it was no defence, no protest; certainly it was no defence before his tormentors. He was silent, and that silence was golden. It was a golden silence because it meant that He did not try to talk his way out of what was happening. He accepted it in order to pay for our sins. Yes, I can say and you can too: He died for my sins. All you heard was a cry of agony come up from the heart and emitting from his mouth. All you hear is faith and obedience when He said that He committed his spirit into his Father’s hands. All you hear is his pronouncement that He has stuck it out to the bitter end when He said, “It is finished.”
We can still hear those people on Golgotha: come down from the cross, they cried, and then we will believe you! They did not understand that Jesus Christ had agreed to be there and to die there. Come down, they said, and we will believe. That is completely backwards. What leads to faith is not a Saviour who comes down from the cross, but who stays on the cross – who willingly came there in the first place. The great miracle is not a Saviour who can come down from the cross. The great miracle is a Saviour who would want to be there and who would stay there because of the great miracle of love for sinners. For you and me. He would not come down, until it was the hands of others who pried his lifeless, cold body from the cruel nails of the cross. O, was He silent then. Not a peep. Not a word. But in heaven, the Father and the angels were singing for joy because of the salvation of those who once were lost but now have been found. Silence on Golgotha. But the music had started again: sweet strains started to emanate from heaven and would fill the earth with the melody of a victorious Saviour who had reconciled God and sinners. Today we still hear the sweet gospel of how much God loves us. And our hearts swell with the melody of praise and thanksgiving to God that will culminate on Zion where we will sing to the Father and to the Lamb who is silent no more.