He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth (Is. 53:7).
Fulfilling Isaiah’s words, Jesus suffered silently as He was accused, mocked, spit upon, beaten, whipped and crucified. He must have been tempted to say, “You just wait, you wretches! One day you’ll regret how you’ve treated Me!” His self-restraint was amazing. Peter, an eyewitness to much of Christ’s sufferings, would later write, “And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23). This, Peter also wrote, serves as an example for us to imitate when we suffer unjustly for our faith (1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus was, of course, motivated by more than just a desire to fulfill prophecy as He suffered silently. He was “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities” (Is. 53:5). He desired that all men might be saved, even those who mocked Him, and the only way that would be possible was if He suffered, paying for their sins. God would see “the anguish of His soul” and “be satisfied” (Is. 53:11). Justice and love met on the cross.
And what a contrast of purity and wickedness! Jesus shines as a beacon in the darkness amongst those who hated Him. Their cruelty is nothing more than a demonstration of universal human nature, manifested every day in political prison camps and on the playgrounds of your local elementary school. But once a person is born again, the same Jesus who died for the world comes to live inside him by the Holy Spirit, resulting in a supernatural transformation. Thereafter, the new creation in Christ shudders as he remembers the former selfishness that ruled him and marvels at how others can be so cruel.
The Romans always crucified people along major roads so that as many people as possible would walk by the condemned, making them an object lesson to all. So try to erase those crucifixion scenes from religious movies out of your mind, which portray Jesus hanging from His cross on a distant hill, with a few mourners standing to watch along with the Roman guards. Jesus hung naked, bleeding and dying in agony, along a major road just outside one of Jerusalem’s gates, as hundreds, perhaps thousands of people streamed by Him, going about their daily business. Many mocked Him in passing. Yet He made no reply.
Just before He expired, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (15:34), quoting the first verse of Psalm 22. Had any of those present bothered to read that psalm, they would have been amazed that, a thousand years earlier—before crucifixion was even invented as a means of capital punishment—David penned prophetic words that expressed Jesus’ anguish on the cross:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning….All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him”….I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots (Ps. 22:1, 7-8, 14-18).
Psalm 22 by itself should be enough to convince anyone to repent and believe!