A Time to Be Quiet and a Time to Speak
Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to the home of the high priest, where he was interrogated by Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. Many witnesses offered testimony against Jesus, but their stories were not sufficient to condemn him. As he was being accused, Jesus remained silent.
After a while, the high priest stood up and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” (14:60). Jesus said nothing. Then the high priest asked, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (14:61). Jesus finally spoke: “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven” (14:62).
On Monday, I’ll reflect upon the meaning of Jesus’ answer, and why it got him into such trouble. For now I want simply to note that, for Jesus, his trial was not a time to fill the room with words. It was as if he was living the line from Ecclesiastes 3:7: “[There is a] time to be quiet and a time to speak.”
We don’t know exactly what motivated Jesus to be so quiet, and then to speak so bluntly. He may have sensed the inadequacy of words to communicate in such an unfriendly context. It may be that Jesus felt no need to defend himself when he knew and had accepted the outcome of his trial. But, no matter Jesus’ exact motivation, his example reminds us that there is a time to be quiet and a time to speak.
These days, our world is filled with anything but quiet. Endless words pummel us from sources human and electronic. And we can add to the empty, oppressive chatter. I’ll confess to doing this way too often. I need to learn to wait upon the Lord, to listen well before I speak, and to use my words judiciously. Perhaps you do too.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you tend to be a person of quiet or a person of speaking? When do you use too many words? Why? What helps you to be quiet, to listen, and to speak wisely?
PRAYER: O Lord, I don’t really know why you were so quiet during your trial. Honestly, a part of me wishes that you had spoken up, that you had defended yourself. I wish you had called up a battalion of angels in self-defense. But you knew better. You knew what was right at that time. You knew it was a time, mostly for quiet, and then for blunt speech.
Help me, Lord, to be wise even as you are wise. Help me to know when to be quiet, as well as when to speak. Teach me to listen deeply to those around me, to honor them by my receptive silence. And then, by your Spirit, help me to speak words of truth . . . not too many, but just the right numbers.
In your name I pray, Amen.
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This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work (www.thehighcalling.org), a wonderful website about work and God. You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.