Jesus bore our shame.
By Anne Ryan
March 16, 2018
Each detail of Jesus’ passion reveals his unwavering commitment to redeem us. In “The Silence of the Lamb,” Adrian Rogers unpacks Jesus’ love for us in his puzzling refusal to speak when he is falsely accused before the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman governor Pilate. The trumped-up witnesses who testified against Jesus could not even agree with each other, yet he did not disprove them. Although it is human nature to defend ourselves when we are accused—even if we are guilty and especially if we are innocent—our blameless Savior only answers his questioners when he is directly asked if he is the Christ, the Son of God. During his trials, Jesus is slandered, spit upon, slapped, mocked, and beaten, and yet he does not defend himself.
Why does Jesus remain silent? In one sense, it seems out of character. He is the Word. His voice created the universe, stilled the wind and the waves, and raised the dead. His ministry was one of teaching as well as healing. His words always cut to the truth.
What if Jesus had defended himself? Rogers suggests that Jesus “would have been so powerful and irrefutable in making his defense that no governor, high priest or other legal authority on earth could have stood against him” (Guthrie, 53). It would have made a great movie scene to see Jesus, the divine orator, verbally shred his evil opponents, just as it would have been awesome to see Jesus appeal to his Father and be rescued by twelve legions of angels in Gethsemane. It would have been dramatic to watch, but it would also have been devastating for us because we would have lost our Savior.
Jesus’ silence fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah would suffer willingly:
‘“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” Isaiah 53:7.
In his quiet humility, Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Here is another life-giving detail. With his silence, Jesus takes away not only our sin and guilt, but also our shame:
“The Bible teaches that when Jesus Christ took our sin, he took all of the punishment that goes with that sin. A part of that punishment is shame. Had Jesus defended himself and protested his innocence, he would have suffered no shame, and that would have left us guilty. Jesus could not prove himself innocent and then die in our place the shameful death that we deserve” (Guthrie, 53).
Jesus allows his accusers to heap shame on him so that we can be free of shame.
Jesus’ willingness to take our shame pierces my heart. It is the total opposite of my own sinful desire to make myself better than I am through excuses, comparison, pride, and judgment. My mind is obsessed with self-justification, with covering my own shame, rather than resting in the forgiveness that Jesus offers.
I once heard a pastor call Jesus’ love our “cradle of security.” Because the perfect Son of God emptied himself of his glory and silently received all our guilt and shame, we can receive the security of God’s acceptance.
Anne is a wife and stay-at-home mom who lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio, with her husband John and their four children Natalie, Zoe, Jack and Luke.
Anne's article is inspired by Adrian Rogers: "The Silence of the Lamb" from Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, Guthrie, N, 2009. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books.