What You Don’t Know About The Trials of Jesus

Continued from Part 13

ISAIAH 53:7

Isaiah 53:7:  “as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; and opened not his mouth

The silence that was a bit too loud

Was Jesus humble and silent when he stood before the Jewish officials and then Pilate?  In these encounters, Jesus did not show the humility and silence with which Isaiah describes the servant in verse 7. 

Before the Jewish officials:  The alleged encounter between the high priest, the elders, and Jesus is one of vigorous verbal exchange.  The Synoptic Gospels claim, Jesus acknowledged before the Sanhedrin his claim that he was the Messiah.  When the high priest asks him whether he is the Messiah he answers in the affirmative.  Jesus declares:  “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62; see also Matthew 26:63-64, Luke 22:69-70).  Matthew and Luke have Jesus answer the high priest in the affirmative, with a statement similar to that which John uses for Jesus’ answer to Pilate:  “you say that I am” (Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3).  This is not silence!

Jesus was not silent before Pilate:  He did not show humility and silence during his trial before Pilate.  John claims that Jesus even taunted Pilate.  When Pilate said:  “Do you not know that I have authority to release you, and I have authority to crucify you?”  Jesus defiantly answered:  “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:10-11).  John’s Jesus is depicted as skillfully defending himself.  He pleads shrewdly that his messianic teaching was a nonviolent, “not of this world” movement, one which the Romans need not fear. At no time does he humble himself, but, on the contrary, presents a clever verbal defense before Pilate (the one man who could condemn him to death).  Jesus claimed that his kingdom was not of this world, giving the impression that it would not be in conflict with the Empire.  He wanted to convince Pilate that he was not the leader of a seditious movement and that his intentions were peaceful.

Contrary to what many Christians would have us believe, the Gospels say that Jesus presented a strong defense before the Jewish officials and Pilate.  He was not “dumb” before his accusers, Jewish or gentile, and it cannot be said of him that “he humbled himself and did not open his mouth.”   Jesus declared himself to be a king.  John’s Jesus with no sense of humility opens his mouth and declares to Pilate:  “You say that I am a king.  For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

It is farfetched to believe that after Jesus declares he is a king that Pilate went out to the Jews and said:  “Behold, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in him” (John 19:4).  Jesus’ alleged regal reception upon his arrival in Jerusalem by an enthusiastic crowd could not have gone unnoticed by Pilate (Matthew 21:8-11).  Declaring oneself to be a king without being appointed or recognized as such by the emperor could only be interpreted by Pilate as a seditious act and a capital offense the punishment of which was within his exclusive jurisdiction.

The futility of identifying Jesus with the sheep metaphor

There is no literal or typological parallelism between Jesus and “as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; and opened not his mouth.”

A sheep led to its slaughter is oblivious to its fate.  Ignorance is why the animal is silent.

Jesus was not silent.  Jesus was supposedly not ignorant of his role or fate and he was not led unresisting and oblivious to his death.  During his alleged interrogation by the high priests, Jesus complained that he never taught in secret (John 18:19-20)—and, in so doing, he made false statements denying he taught in secrecy.  Jesus argued with Pilate during their encounter and protested his innocence (John 18:33-38, 19:10-11).  Jesus is also said to have complained to God concerning his impending fate.   Although Jesus supposedly ultimately agreed to comply with the will of God, in the Garden of Gethsemane he first asked that God not have him die (Matthew 26:39, Luke 22:42).  It is also said that Jesus cried out in sorrowful disappointment when he was hanging on the cross, asking why God abandoned him (Matthew 27:46).  This raises a crucial question:  Did Jesus not know his death was essential for mankind’s salvation?

The crucial answer

He did not expect to die and all supposed self-predictions to the contrary are later editions to the narrative.

The crucial conclusion

On examination of the claims made on behalf of Jesus, when they are compared to what the passage says of the servant they are found to be seriously lacking any sort of fulfillment. Jesus is simply not the servant.

© Gerald Sigal

Continued

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