November 24, 2008

Silence and Speaking

Isaiah 53:7-12

As a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53:7


We might think, at first, that there’s little to learn about the contrast between silence and speech. After all, in Scripture, which itself is a vast treasure of words, the Son of God is revealed as the Word incarnate—the Word made flesh. Speech seems to trump silence.

But a neverending flow of words can be empty of meaning. Jesus himself warned against babbling when we pray, for example (Matthew 6:7). Mere talk is hardly the breath of life! The book of Proverbs reminds us that mere words do not make wisdom, and that silence has a value that often is unsurpassed (Proverbs 17:28).

In Christ, the Word made flesh, silence speaks to us in a surprising way. It’s the silence of the sheep before its shearers. It’s the silence of the heavens as anticipation mounts for the revelation of the ages (see Revelation 8:1). It’s the silence that greeted the jeers of the mob as a fallen humanity exulted in our Lord’s suffering. This profound silence is filled with the depth of divine grace.

Here is a contrast that makes us uncomfortable because it is a silence that responds to our need for a Savior to bear our guilt.

But this is a silence we need to hear.

It’s the silence of anticipation and fulfillment that gives us reason to voice our praise in thanksgiving to God, our Savior.

Lamb of God, as you have shown by your example, teach us how to speak and how to be silent. May our words as well as our silences be of service to you. Amen.

About the author — Harvey Brink

Rev. Harvey Brink has retired from active ministry in the Christian Reformed Church, having served congregations in Michigan, California, Iowa, New Jersey, Illinois, and
Washington. He and his wife Maxine live near their children and grandchildren in western Washington.

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