Silence

   Written by on July 31, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Jesus Christ and Pilate stood toe to toe, the one a preacher, the other a politician. The one on trial, the other a judge. That’s when Pilate looked at Christ, a thinly veiled sneer on his lips, and asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

logo-crotts-stephenWhat happens next is totally unexpected. Jesus is silent. Not one word escaped his lips.

One would expect Christ to launch into a sermon at least two pages long full of epistemological gems, God-talk, Scripture citations, and brilliant insights. Jesus, after all, has shown earlier that his was an educated and nimble mind, fully capable of handling the subject. Yet he uttered not a word.

Some background: Christ the Lord began his public ministry calling all hearers to repent of sin and believe the good news of the gospel.  To say his teaching, his miracles, and his love aroused the multitudes is an understatement. Ah, but so many did not believe! They took counsel together how to destroy him. They found fault and began to criticize him. “He has a demon!”  “A glutton and winebibber!”  “A friend of harlots and tax collectors!”

That’s when Jesus began to withdraw from the public to focus on his few believers. When he did speak publicly it was often in parables—earthly stories with heavenly meaning that veiled truth from skeptics.  Finally at his arrest and trial, he spoke less and less. And that is when he didn’t even bother to answer Pilate’s question.

Scripture quite clearly tells us God is there and he is not silent. He speaks in “many and various ways”—through dreams, visions, by prophets, and in Scripture. Psalm 119 says, “Day to day pours forth speech.”  Yet when we refuse to listen, God falls silent. After all, if we do not listen to what he has already said, why, then should he say more?

Jesus complained, “They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matthew 13:13)

1 Samuel 3:1 speaks of a time when “the word of God was rare in those days.”  We may be in such a period of growing silence in our own day. Proud, self-sufficient know-it-alls, scoffers— what little we hear of God we suppress.

Note that Pilate asked, “What is truth?” rather flippantly. He never stuck around for the answer but quickly moved on with the task of destroying Christ.

And Jesus spoke not a word.  Sometimes silence speaks loudest. It thunders. And we hear the answer in the quietness of our own empty hearts…and we turn away.

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

About Stephen Crotts

The Reverend Stephen Crotts is pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Charlotte Court House, VA. He is also the director of the Carolina Study Center, Inc., a campus ministry, located in Chapel Hill, NC. Pastor Crotts may be reached at carolinastudycenter@msn.com.

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