“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 its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.” – Isaiah 53:7
We rightly connect this prophecy to Jesus standing on trial before Pilate (Matthew 27:14), but it seems that we don’t always connect it to Jesus going through the actual crucifixion and being mocked as He is tortured and killed without defending Himself.
“Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. – Matthew 27:27-31
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.” – Matthew 27:39-43
Jesus did not defend Himself before Pilate, nor did He defend Himself as he was beaten and insulted by the soldiers, or even as He hung dying on the cross as the people mocked Him and challenged Him to prove Himself.
Those who have opposed Him and denied Him throughout His ministry are gloating over their perceived victory. Though they had heard Jesus teach and seen Him work miracles, they could not admit, they would not admit that He was the Messiah. He didn’t fit their idea of who the Messiah would be and He wouldn’t do what they wanted Him to do.
At any point, Jesus could have proved who He was by calling “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53). Instead, He chose to suffer and die, mocked while He was willingly making the greatest sacrifice in history.
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame” -Hebrews 12:2
Jesus was not focused on His present suffering or their misguided mockery. He was looking forward to the joy of completing the work of salvation. Jesus did not have to prove Himself to the relatively small crowd present at the crucifixion. By defeating sin and death He would ultimately prove Himself to the entire world.
“And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:8-11
Those who mocked Jesus at the cross would either come to accept Him as Lord after He rose from the dead or be forced to admit it sometime in the future at the end of time. While they mocked Him they had no idea what was truly happening.
As a sheep is sheared of its wool so that others may be clothed, so too Jesus gave up His life so that we might be clothed with His righteousness. This is why He was “led like a lamb to the slaughter” and did not defend Himself as they unjustly condemned Him, beat Him, tortured Him, mocked Him, and killed Him. It was His joy to purchase our salvation for the glory of God, that we might stand before Him clothed in righteousness.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. – Galatians 3:26-27
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
His silence when He could have defended Himself spoke love louder than anything we could ever hear.