…but he answered him not a word.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is when not to defend myself. Normally this is something I find hard not to do. By nature I am a communicator, a negotiator and a peacemaker. As liberal as I am towards respecting other people’s opinions, I also have my own views on a wide variety of subject matters. These attributes equate to my natural desire to be understood. My preference is that even if someone disagrees with me or is angry with me for something – I would much rather that person have an accurate assessment on what I mean to say or meant to do relative to his/her beef is with me rather than it be for some reason that isn’t true. But sometimes less is more and there are times that an attempt to bring understanding to a situation would do nothing to remedy the problem. Sometimes defending one’s self only makes things worse. Especially if the people I may try to convince may not be in a good place to hear my point of view, or they flat out may not care.
Jesus is a wonderful example of a man knowing when not to defend himself. As he faced his accusers before being sentenced to death by crucifixion, he was asked to defend himself. This is how the exchange went in Matthew 27:11-14:
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him saying, “Are you King of the Jews? Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief priest and elders, He answered nothing. The Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
When one really examines the life of Jesus through his exchanges with different people, we find that people are always asking Him questions. And I have found that depending on the person asking and what his/her motivation was for asking a question determined the way Jesus would respond. When one of his disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He gave them what we know now as the Lord’s Prayer. (Luke 11) If a guy asked to be healed he accommodated that. (Mark 2:41-42) Even when John’s disciples asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast, Jesus gave them a decent answer. (Matthew 9:14-17)
The issue in the scripture reference before Jesus was crucified was that the governor wasn’t 100% sincere when he asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews. And the chief priest damn sure didn’t give a hoot as to what Jesus would say to his accusations. His and his friend’s agenda would have been the same regardless… “Crucify Him!” Therefore Jesus did not waste the little time and breath he had left in answering the questions or defending himself in the presence of fools. He illustrated this in Matthew 13:10-11 when he told his disciples that the reason He spoke in parables was because there were certain valuable words that were not for the masses to gain insight into.
And so it goes neither should we care to defend ourselves in the presence of people who are not on a hunt for truth nor have our best interest at heart. Whenever Jesus would get a suspect or tricky question from an individual, he would either give them a smart assed question and answer back, (Matthew 20:23-27 -Luke 20:20-23) point out their true intentions, (Matthew 9 1-6) or simply be silent. However, if a person was sincere in wanting to know the truth he was more than happy to relay that truth until understanding was achieved. Proverbs 26:4 says it best, “Answer not a fool in his folly, lest you be like him.” Sometimes even if you are totally misunderstood, misquoted, or accused of wrong doing. There is a time to defend what the truth is. But if the person you are talking to does not want the truth of have your best interest at heart, inside you may want to scream out for justice. But it takes great inner strength to hold your peace and allow God to fight your battles.