Becoming Spiritual Decathletes: Part 8

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Pastor Mark Mikels – August 17, 2008


(“Connecting With Christ” Series –
Part 47)

Mark 14:55-61; 15:1-5

Intro … This morning we come to the seventh of the ten great
spiritual challenges Jesus faced the last eight days of his earthly

In this seventh challenge, just like in the first six, Jesus laid down
a pattern for his followers to follow.

It’s a pattern that some of us might find to be the most difficult of
all …

a challenge that requires an extremely high level of self-control.

It’s the challenge called …

Christ’s Seventh Great Challenge …


“Maintaining silence in the face of UNJUST ATTACK.”

Two key phrases form the focus for this incredibly difficult spiritual
event …

“Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” (Mark 14:61)

“But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” (Mark 15:5)

Here’s the fuller account in which those phrases are found …

MK 14:55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for
evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they
did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their
statements did not agree.

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard
him say, `I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will
build another, not made by man.’ ” Yet even then their testimony did
not agree.

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you
not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing
against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

MK 15:1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders,
the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision.
They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. (skip
verse two)

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked
him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing
you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

As I read that account from Mark’s Gospel, I’m reminded of the words of
Isaiah the prophet who wrote these words more than 400 years before
Christ was born … (Isaiah 53:7)

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her
shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

In the face of great pressure – with his life (as it seemed) on the
line, Jesus maintained complete silence. He did not respond to the
bogus charges that were brought against him. He did not defend himself
in any way. He did not utter a single word on his own behalf.

His silence frustrated the High Priest (who was trying to condemn him)
and amazed Pilate (who was trying to free him)!

How many of us would have been able to keep our mouths shut in such an
environment and yet how many times have we been in situations where
(afterwards) we wished we had?

Maintaining silence in the midst of attack is by no means an easy thing
to do and yet sometimes maintaining silence in the midst of an attack
is the most impressive and effective thing that we can do.

And that combination observation leads me to share with you (what I’m
calling) …

Today’s Silence Principle #1 …

It’s always BEST to maintain SILENCE when

SPEAKING will do you no GOOD!

That sounds so sensible doesn’t it … Why would any of us speak if we
knew that speaking was not going to do us any good – if we knew that
speaking was not going to help achieve our ultimate purpose?

Oh … sometimes we just “speak before we think”, don’t we?

We don’t take the time to analyze the situation and ask ourselves

“Is this one of those times when it would be

better for me to just keep my mouth shut?”

And other times … we speak simply because we let that “competitive

we talked about several weeks ago take control of us.

That happened to me several years ago when I was called for Jury Duty.

I didn’t have time to serve on a jury (who does really?).

I had no desire to serve on a jury but I had no hardship cause for
everyone knows that preachers only work on Sundays and that they get
paid whether they work or not. I had no compelling reason to ask to be

However, I had been told that no attorney wants a preacher on his/her

I had been told (by friends who know these types of things) that if I
were called into the box, as soon as I revealed that I was a preacher,
especially a Baptist preacher, I would be dismissed for cause.

Generally speaking preachers (just like the host of religious nuts that
make up their congregations) are notoriously recognized as “loose
cannons” – who knows what kind of bizarre thought process they might
get mired down in?

I felt pretty comfortable with that “rejection scenario” … until I
was actually called into the box!

And then a funny thing happened … I got motivated to change the
attorney’s mind about preachers and about me in particular.

I should have just told them what I did for living and allow their
natural prejudices to play themselves out but I didn’t …

I answered their questions with a bit of wit and humor. It was even a
drunk driving case and I had to admit to them that I had never taken a
drink of alcohol in my life. But on I pressed seeking to convince them
that I could be sympathetic and fair-minded. Surely preachers all over
the world were going to be in my debt.

And lo and behold, before I fully realized what was going on, before
the adrenaline had stopped pumping through my veins, I answered the
last question and heard both attorneys declare “We find this juror

What had I done? I was going to be stuck on that jury for the better
part of two weeks. Why hadn’t I just maintained my silence?

Well, it’s not such an easy thing to do in the face of actual (or
perceived attack). Sometimes competitive urges open mouths that should
have remained shut.

It’s like the politician who says, “I won’t even dignify that remark
with an answer.” Guess what … You just did!

Jesus recognized and applied the truth of Silence Principle #1 …

It’s always BEST to maintain SILENCE when

SPEAKING will do you no GOOD!

But how do I know when “speaking will do me no good”?

Well, if we take Jesus’ situation as our pattern …

Speaking will do you no good when:

* You are being addressed/accused by someone


No minds have ever been more closed than the minds of this group that
badgered Jesus all night and ultimately hauled him into Pilate’s Court.

At the very beginning of his ministry in what has come to be known as
“The Sermon on the Mount” (recorded most extensively in Matthew’s

Jesus had said to his disciples … (Matthew 7:6)

“Do not cast your pearls before swine” – in other words,

don’t waste your breath on them; their minds are already made up!

And when he sent out the twelve two by two through the towns and
villages of Galilee he gave these instructions … (Mark 6:11)

“If any place will not welcome you or listen to you,

shake the dust off your feet …” and move on.

Sometimes it takes a response or two before you can make the
determination that your accuser does in fact have a closed mind. But
once you determine that, there is no sense speaking any longer.

Now here’s another thing …

Speaking will do you no good when:

* You are being addressed/accused by someone


Mark reveals that agenda in chapter 14 verse 55 …

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence

against Jesus so that they could put him to death …

Finding a reason to condemn was the agenda that night and they kept
hammering away until it was discovered.

I believe that Pilate had an agenda as well … He was looking for some
politically satisfying outcome. How could he both appease these

wrought-up Jewish leaders and uphold Roman Justice at the same time?

There was nothing that Jesus had to say that would do him any real good
with either of them so he maintained his silence even as the
accusations grew in intensity.

Pilate was amazed that he could so control himself.

Pilate knew that Jesus was being accused unjustly. Mark tells us in
chapter 15 verse 10 that Pilate knew that the chief priests were
envious of Jesus’ popularity with the people and that was why they were
trying to get rid of him. That fact made Jesus’ silence all the more

How could he just stand there and not say anything?

Well, I believe that Jesus could just stand there and maintain silence
because he was experiencing the reality of …

Today’s Silence Principle #2 …

It’s actually EASY to maintain SILENCE when

you stay FOCUSED on what the real TRUTH IS!

Stay focused upon:

* The truth of the specific CIRCUMSTANCE

Here’s the relevant truth of Jesus’ specific circumstance:

He was being accused falsely and unjustly.

His accusers were way off base.

They were motivated by the basest of motives – what we

called last week – unenlightened self-interest.

He knew that their words were less than meaningless when it came

to commending or condemning the actions of his life.

He surely was focused upon that …

They were doing to him what Jesus said (in the Beatitude Section of his
Sermon on the Mount) people might some day do to us … (Matthew 5:11)

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and

falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

The truth is there might come a day in any of our lives when
closed-minded, agenda-driven people will seek to destroy us because of
the way we live out our faith in Christ.

See it for what it is … Don’t descend to their level. Don’t fight
fire with fire – don’t return tit for tat. Bow your head under their
onslaught and let those around you marvel at your self-control.

Let the truth of the circumstance invigorate you (you are standing in
Christ’s place, being attacked because of Him).

Also at such a time, stay focused upon …

* The truth of the eventual OUTCOME

Jesus had shared his personal outcome earlier with his disciples when
he had said,

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders,
chiefs priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and
after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31)

In that Beatitude we considered a few moments ago, Jesus had said …
“Blessed are you” when such things happen. “Rejoice and be glad” at
such times, he said, for “great is your reward in heaven”.

Here’s something that Peter added to the discussion … (1 Peter 4:16)

“If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed,

but praise God that you bear that name.”

Stay focused upon what the real truth is … it will make it a lot
easier to maintain silence when silence is called for!

Final Thot …

Sometimes SILENCE can be absolutely DEAFENING!