Lent Devotion for March 22
"Silent Before His Accusers”
Reader: “He was oppressed and treated harshly.”
Response: “He did not open His mouth.”
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 53:7
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 27:12-14
12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Having sheep and growing up on our farm in Illinois, gives some “farmers” insight into this passage. Shearing the sheep was always a kind of special time. It happened once a year and we had the same man come every time to do the shearing. We also had a large ram in our flock who did not always have the best attitude! You could not trust him not to butt you when you weren’t looking. He was macho to say the least and proud of it. I always loved watching him get sheared. The man who is shearing the sheep would catch him and sit him on his bottom before he knew what happened. When a sheep is sitting on its rump, it is very passive and quiet. It doesn’t make a sound! It knows it is defeated and can’t do anything about it. Our ram was also a bit more humble without his wooly coat! Isaiah was exactly right, a sheep before its shearers are silent. The Lamb of God adopted the humility of a lamb. Jesus, however, was not silent because He was defeated and couldn’t do anything about it. Rather, He was in command of all the circumstances and willingly chose to be the sacrifice for sin. The accusations of the priests and elders only served to confirm their failure to understand the moment, their hardness of heart, and their blindness to the truth. Pilate was only in his position because God had allowed him to be in that place. Jesus was on an entirely different mission in which they were oblivious players. God was bringing reconciliation, opening the way for a restoration of the entire created order, and these leaders had not a clue. Jesus was locked on course to accomplish His Father’s will. When we are with those whose hearts are hardened, sometimes it may be best to say nothing and stay our Father’s course.
MUSIC: “He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word” by Marian Anderson (Marian Anderson's career spanned 1925-1965. She was one of the great American singers of the 20th century.)
O God, our great shepherd, you tenderly gather us as lambs, carrying us with your all-embracing love. Yet, like sheep, we wander from you; following our own ways, ignoring your voice, distrusting your provisions. Forgive our stubborn rebellion, our hardened hearts, and our lack of trust. Refresh us once again by your quiet waters of mercy and restore our souls by your redeeming love that we might follow you more closely. Through Jesus Christ, our good shepherd, we pray. Amen.
–The Worship Sourcebook