“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).
IT WAS A BASIC PRINCIPLE OF THE LAW OF MOSES THAT THE VICTIM OF A CRIME WAS NOT ALLOWED TO PUNISH THE WRONGDOER — OTHERS WERE TO TAKE CARE OF THAT. We have the same principle in our laws today. And this principle makes obvious sense, does it not? The victim would always tend to overdo the punishment, so that task is relegated to those who are likely to be more objective.
When Jesus, the most innocent victim who has ever been put to death, was being accused before the authorities, He did not strike back at those who were doing such wrong to Him. He did not even retaliate verbally. He understood (as we should understand) that justice must always be left in the hands of God, who can be counted on to perfectly balance justice and mercy. So if vengeance is what is needed, it is God who should carry it out. Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, Paul said, “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).
Although we know this, none of us would have had the restraint that Jesus did. “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.” Perhaps we might have done it, but we possibly would have done it with the warm glow of smug self-approval: “These are wicked people, but I am so morally superior that I can take their mistreatment silently. There aren’t many people willing to be as meek and humble as I am.” But there was no such fake humility with Jesus.
The portrayal of Jesus’ silent suffering in Isaiah 53 is a part of that prophecy’s depiction of what would happen to the Messiah as He underwent the punishment for our sins. Nothing else like that death has ever taken place in the history of the world. Who would have thought that we could be healed by wounds being inflicted on our Savior? The more we learn of our Savior, the more we are moved to fall before God’s throne and say, “How great Thou art.”
“All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning” (Oswald Chambers).