It’s hard for me to imagine how Thursday went down for Jesus.
It’s hard for me to imagine how the Maker of the world felt when His eyes drifted open on Thursday morning, and the crushing awareness of pending death and separation from His Father came over Him in waves. All His closest friends were clueless about what was coming. I can’t imagine the weight of loneliness He must have felt all day, while his brothers chatted on about their plans for the coming weeks and months, entirely oblivious of the burden their teacher was bearing.
He spent a night in a garden getting all the words out.
When the horror He came to endure would begin, He would close his mouth. The speaking would be done. So, for hours He laid on the ground, sweating blood and tears and He poured out every thought to the Father.
And when He ran out of words, He stood up and went to meet His death. And He closed His mouth.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth… And they made his grave with the wicked… although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.(Isaiah 53:7-9)
Christ was silent: he did not condemn us or plead His cause.
There was much to say on the Cross. But Jesus didn’t say it. 1 Peter tells us that he did not threaten or revile us because He was too busy entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
He stood there, our Savior, bloodied and broken; beaten beyond recognition and they asked Him one simple question: are you the Christ? Why not answer? What is lost? Why not defend yourself? Why not plead your case? Why stay silent?
Because Jesus entrusted His soul to the One who judges justly.
Jesus could walk silently to the Cross because He didn’t believe that any one of the hands grasping and prodding and pushing had control over His destiny. His course was not directed by the decisions of the crowd or Pilot.
He’d said His words to the only One with any power over the situation. That’s what Thursday was all about; that is what the garden was all about. There is only one Person in the entire world who could change the way Friday went down, and it wasn’t the disciples or Judas or the guards.
So Jesus was silent as He walked to the Cross because He’d already plead His case. He’d poured out His words the night before to His Father, asking if there was any other way and when the answer came in a reminder that this had always been the plan, Jesus rose and obeyed with nothing left to say.
Actually, let me take that back. There was something left to say.
He may have closed His mouth and quieted His own protests, but all of Heaven stilled in silence on Friday to hear the blood of Christ set sinners free. His blood speaks for us even still.
Jesus speaks on our behalf.
What happened on Friday wasn’t simply a lack of accusation, it was an active pleading. Jesus didn’t simply drop the charges against us, He plead our cause. He lives to intercede on our behalf.
Jesus looks out from that Cross at the very men who are seeking His death and He doesn’t just stay silent. He doesn’t just ask for them to not be condemned. He asks for them to be forgiven by the Father.
Forgiveness isn’t just letting something go and not holding it against someone. Forgiveness isn’t just ‘accepting’ what someone has done. Forgiveness is seeking for them to gain.
Here’s what we do as Christians: we sepereate forgiveness from emotions. That way we can proclaim we’ve ‘forgiven’ people when our heart is still hard toward them. Forgiveness is certainly more than an emotion, but it is never less. We say: “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget‘ right?
Gosh, I am so grateful that is not what God means by forgiveness.
True forgiveness is a heart change toward someone that doesn’t just enable you to ‘accept’ what they did, but frees you up to seek good for them; to be an active participant in wanting and praying for their restoration.
Jesus didn’t just accept what we did. He didn’t just let us do our thing – trusting God to get us later.
He let us do our thing knowing that He would bear the wrath for each pluck of His beard, each mocking word falling out of the ignorant mouth of a lost child of God. He watched the guards divide His clothing and prayed for their redemption knowing that if the Father granted that request, He would pay the price for their offense – not them.
Behold the forgiveness of God.
Jesus doesn’t just accept what you did today and not hold it against you. He doesn’t just stay silent in the court room, refusing to condemn you when everyone else will.
He goes before the Father and pleads your case with the holes in His palms and the cut in his side. He offers up His blood that speaks louder than any words ever could.
I don’t know what you’ve done. I don’t know the darkness of your heart. Some of you reading this may not even know the darkness of your own heart. You may not grasp the weight of your sin. But know this – if Jesus had opened His mouth against you, there would have been no shortage of words to condemn you. Yet, He stayed silent. He refused to plead His own cause so that He could plead yours.