Friday, May 12, 2023

The Vision (5.12.23): The Passive Obedience of Christ


Image: Rhododendron, North Garden, Virginia, May, 2023.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 26:57-68.

But Jesus held his peace (Matthew 26:63a).

In Matthew 26:57-68 we read of Christ’s trial before Caiaphas, the high priest. Two false witnesses bring slander against our Lord (vv. 60-61). In the face of these false charges, Christ simply stood in silence and made no effort to explain or defend himself.

This was so unsettling to the high priest that he asked our Lord, “Answerest thou nothing?” (v. 62). In v. 63, Matthew notes, “But Jesus held his peace.” He was, in fact, fulfilling Isaiah 53:7 “as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

Aside from the fulfillment of prophecy notice three other things about Christ’s response:

First, it demonstrates the perfection and strength of his character. He had the spiritual fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) in a perfect measure. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:7, there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”

Second, it demonstrated his perfect trust in God the Father to vindicate his cause. He was resting in that knowledge and did not, therefore, feel compelled to justify, defend, or explain himself. As Paul will write: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

Third, it demonstrated what theologians call the passive obedience of Christ. In his life and ministry Christ demonstrated active obedience to the law. For example, he went to Jerusalem for the Passover each year (cf. Deut 16:16); he loved his neighbor as himself (Leviticus 19:18); etc. Yet he also demonstrated passive obedience to the God’s plan of salvation. The triune God had ordained that there would be one who would give his life a ransom for many. And the Lord Jesus Christ, as the eternal Son of God made flesh, did not run from this task. He did not seek to avoid it. He did not protest or complain about it. He embraced it.

We might note at least two things we gained from this:

First, we are the beneficiaries of Christ’s obedience. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Second, Christ provided us a model for suffering in the face of injustice. As Peter will put it, he gave us “an example” that we “should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Peter adds of our Lord, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (v. 23).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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