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. Isaiah 53:7
to open wide (literally or figuratively); specifically, to loosen, begin, plough, carve
to tie fast; hence (of the mouth) to be tongue-tied:—bind, be dumb, put to silence.
Two words in this verse that look the same in English yet their meanings differ because of the use, as a part of the word, of a small three-letter word…”not.” It is used after “opened” in the first part, yet not a part of the definition, whereas the second “opened” included “not,” as if it is a whole word. The NLT version of the verse may help to see this a bit more clearly:
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. NLT
Sheep are often described as dumb, but as one who has written a series on sheep in this blog, the “dumb” is their silence, a muted voice. They are a patient and meek animal. They need their shepherd to do most of what they need: guided to the green pastures, led to water, sheared, picked up should they fall, led back to the flock should they get lost. They do not do these necessary feats by themselves. It is just the way of sheep. As “the flock” of Jesus, we need this guidance as well, don’t we? But we are not “dumb,” not stupid. We just get lost too. The “dumb” as used here is mute, unable or unwilling to utter a sound.
C. H. Spurgeon preached: “Though the emblem is very gracious, it is by no means novel, for our Lord had been long before Isaiah’s day typified in the lamb of the Passover. To call Him, “The Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world,” is a very frequent mode of explaining to us how He made expiation for our transgressions and indeed even in His glory He is the Lamb in the midst of the throne before whom angels and the redeemed are bowing. I delight to bring before your minds the singular communion between yourselves and Jesus—you “like sheep” and He “as a sheep”—you like sheep in your wanderings, He like a sheep in His patience. You more like sheep—I mean myself and you—more like sheep for foolishness, but He only like a sheep for the sweet submissiveness of His Spirit, so that beneath the shearer’s hand, “He opens not His mouth.” ….
Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the fugitive came; and He had opened my mouth by the time the man came to me in the morning, so my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute. Ezekiel 33:22
I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it. Psalm 39:9
But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth. Psalm 38:13
“He stands there willing to suffer, to be spit upon, to be shamefully treated and to die, for in Him there was a complete surrender. There was no reserve about His body, soul, or spirit. He was wholly given up to do the Father’s will and work out our redemption. There was a complete self-conquest, too. In Him no faculty arose to plead for liberty and ask to be exempted from the general strain. No limb of the body, no portion of the mind, no faculty of the spirit started, but all submitted. A whole Christ giving up His whole being unto God that He might perfectly offer Himself without spot for our redemption.” * C. H. Spurgeon
Our reaction when accused is usually to lash out, react with some sort of voice and/or action. Could I be still? Could my voice be silent facing accusations? Facing my death? Facing even the Truth? They asked, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37) and “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39) I know what my immediate response would be, but Christ is silent.
Throughout the time when Jesus was being questioned, being accused, being killed, He was silent.
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Matthew 26:63
But when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Matthew 27:12-14
So he questioned Him at some length, but He made no answer. Luke 23:9
He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. John 19:9
But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:5
I am amazed as well.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (from Isaiah): He conducted himself under his sufferings so as to make it appear that he did not suffer as an evil-doer; for, though he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth (v. 7), no, not so much as to plead his own innocency, but freely offered himself to suffer and die for us, and objected nothing against it. This takes away the scandal of the cross, that he voluntarily submitted to it, for great and holy ends. By his wisdom he could have evaded the sentence, and by his power have resisted the execution; but thus it was written, and thus it behoved him to suffer. This commandment he received from his Father, and therefore he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, without any difficulty or reluctance (he is the Lamb of God); and as a sheep is dumb before the shearers, nay, before the butchers, so he opened not his mouth, which denotes not only his exemplary patience under affliction (Ps. 39:9), and his meekness under reproach (Ps. 38:13), but his cheerful compliance with his Father’s will. Not my will, but thine be done. Lo, I come. By this will we are sanctified, his making his own soul, his own life, an offering for our sin.
For me, for my sin! God is so merciful and so graceful. Thank You, LORD. I so appreciate You and love You for saving me from myself.
When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
Jesus trusted His Father. Jesus “entrusted” Himself to His Father. Let the Word of God speak for itself:
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
“But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Matthew 5:11
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 (Deuteronomy 32:35)
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9
Father, I thank You for sending Your precious Son to save me, to save us all that we would come to You and know Your mercy and saving grace. I pray that His silence will continue to speak volumes into the hearts of men, women, children as they hear about Jesus’ sacrifice on that awful Cross. As we near Resurrection Sunday, may this silence still our hearts to truly draw closer to the One Who came to take our sins, nailing them to that Cross where He was also nailed, and where He died once for all, carrying our loud, obnoxious sinful voices with Him while He remained quiet. Oh, Lord, I am so sorry. I am also so grateful to You for carrying me with You, giving me a new birth, a new life. I love You, Jesus. In the silence, God raised You from the dead and shows me that I will die once too and then willI walk with You into eternity. Hallelujah! Oh, how I love You…”Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.” ** As I hum these words, Lord, I hear Your silence yet I feel Your love. Praising You with all my heart. In Your Holy and beautifully silent Name, I pray. Amen.
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him. Hebrews 9:27-28
*BY C. H. SPURGEON, THE SHEEP BEFORE THE SHEARERS, Sermon No. 1543, A SERMON
DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 20, 1880, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (from Isaiah)
Photo of Sunset: by Cindy Lever from Pixabay
** song: “Oh, How He Loves You and Me”. Copyright: 1975 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)