‘To speak or not to speak,’ that was the question which Jesus answered at different times in different ways.
In John’s gospel, the temple guards who had been sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees (John 7:32) returned without their intended ‘prisoner,’ they defended their lack of action with the reply, “No one ever spoke the way this man does,…” (John 7:46). The Pharisees, who some how had not noticed the interest of Nicodemus in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, were not amazed, to say the least! “You mean he has deceived you also?” they retorted.
In Mark’s gospel, as Jesus stands as an accused prisoner before the Roman governor Pilate, his speaking and lack of speaking created amazement. Pilate, no doubt, had seen his share of prisoners stand before him and had heard their ‘speaking’ most likely laced with curses, denials and defiance of the pressed charges. He asks Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say.” He knew who He was and simply affirmed the true facts of the case.
But when the chief priests poured on their many accusations, Pilate queried the accuracy of their claims. “But Jesus still made no reply,” Mark records, learning the governor in shock. Knowing the tradition of ‘prisoner release’ as a gesture of mercy during the Passover season, the crowd asked Pilate for this favour.
Pilate agrees, and appears to think this option will allow him to be merciful and not proceed further with this innocent Man’s trial. Seeing the motives of the accusers, namely envy, he wrongly assumes that when contrasted with a notorious criminal the contrasting conduct of Jesus Christ will prompt an immediate cry for His release.
But this was not the will of God. Romans 12 reminds Christ follower that the will of God is good, pleasing and perfect–but not easy! It certainly was not easy for Jesus to be falsely accused. It certainly was not easy to submit Himself to these authorities the bigger issue had been settled in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hours before, in solitary prayer, He had submitted to the Father’s will once again.
His decision ‘to speak or not to speak’ had been determined by His speaking with His Father. So should ours be! Long before we are accused or face a hostile situation we should be found surrendered to the Father’s will. Well should we pray with the psalmist (Psalm 141:3-4) “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers;…”