By Andrew Bonar
'A time to keep silence and a time to speak' Eccles. 3:7
We can draw a great deal of instruction from Christ's silence.
'Let Christ's word and silence too
Dwell in thy heart,'
a Moravian hymn says. Silence as to things we would like to know about Christ is a different thing from Christ Himself keeping silence. Do we ever in the four Gospels find Christ calling any man Lord? Never. He carried about with Him the constant consciousness of His divinity. Isaac is the type of the silent Christ. Let us notice two instances of Christ's silence.
I. His silence at Nazareth for thirty years.--There was no noise made about His coming into the world. He slipped into it we may say, until a choir of angels made it known. A few weeks after, we hear the tramp of Herod's horsemen, and we see the babe fleeing into Egypt. Then we hear nothing of Him (with one exception) for thirty years. This Plant of renown grew up silently before the Lord, and spread out His branches to be suffused with divine fragrance. He did all for God only, and this is true service for child or man. He broke the silence once that He might tell us what He was engaged in. 'Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?' Christ never refers to these thirty years. Why did He keep silence? To teach us the real nature of obedience. Is it not doing everything under God's eye and for Him, not drawing the attention of others to what we are, and to what we are doing? He was teaching us to be content with the Father's approval, that the way to please the Lord is by our obedience. Is God's approval enough for you though all men should ignore you or even despise you? Christ lived for thirty years with the two tables of the law unbroken. Learn to take in much of Christ's obedience into your thoughts. It claims for us merit, and we have by it a claim to the favour of God. There is a lesson here for afflicted ones. What if they are giving the best obedience by their quiet suffering? They are doing the hardest thing that any one can be sent to do. These thirty years ended at Christ's baptism, when the heavens were opened and the voice said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' --the Father's seal to His thirty years' obedience.
II. His silence at the marriage in Cana.--He says nothing to the guests, as we would have expected Him to do. Sitting in the midst of them the first of His miracles is done in silence. He spoke by His presence. A good man's presence in a company may be a great blessing, if his presence is also the presence of the Master. As Christ sat there He silently changed the water into wine.
'God spake once when He all things made,
But saved us when He nothing said.'
We may apply these words to this miracle. What a ray of divinity there was in it! He can think and it is done, as well as speak and it is done. There is no noise in the sunrise in the morning, but there is a burst of light! Christ was teaching the secret of power. It is the presence of the Lord that is the secret of power. It is that we need in order to have blessing. In providence He likes to work in silence. There is no voice in the affliction, but there is in the very silence of it. It is the Lord's way to make us think upon divine things when He means to give us blessing. 'He has made His wonderful works to be thought upon.' He works in this way still in convincing of sin and righteousness. Real conviction comes when the soul is quietly alone with God. No one in the church knows what you are feeling, but the Lord is working in the might of His divinity. We are to stand under the cross and look at the Crucified One. 'Behold Me! Behold Me!' A striking picture makes us silent while looking at it, but what after-thoughts it may rouse in us! So looking quietly on the Lord Jesus the water may be changed into wine, the hard heart will be melted!
Transcribed from Reminiscences of Andrew A. Bonar D.D.