But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness; the punishment for our well-being fell on Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, each one, to his own way; but the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before her shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
Charles Dickens’ a Tale of Two Cities introduces us to two characters, Carton and Darnay. Both men are in love with the same woman and eerily share a resemblance to one another. Approaching the book’s denouement, Carton has a decision to make. Darnay is in prison and has been sent to the guillotine. Carton has been left with the woman they both love, but she truly loves Darnay. In an act of true self-sacrifice and love, Carton finds a way to switch places with Darnay and save him at the last moment. Lucie, the woman they both love, is now reunited with her true love. Carton could have left Darnay to suffer the punishment of death and in the process had a chance to be with Lucie himself. Instead, he decides to sacrifice his life so that Lucie and Darnay can be with each other. The metaphor is not missed in that he gave his life so that another might live, and he did not utter a word about his innocence.
I do not think we can even begin to imagine how difficult it would have been for Jesus to hang on the cross for the sake of mankind, the same mankind who placed him up there, and not defend himself as innocent. Indeed, the fleshly response we might expect of any of us would be to point fingers and tell the crowd He was only up there to suffer their punishment. He could have said something to illuminate the situation and let them know that his sacrifice was for their good. He could have told them that He was doing this out of love for them and fulfillment of his Father’s will. It was their sin, our sin, for which He was dying, but He did not say a word. There is a simple reason for this. Jesus at all times had every intent of fulfilling the Fathers will. He was not trying to get out of it. Like Carton, this was something that He desired to do. Out of his love for us, He uttered not a word in his own defense.
Jesus had every legal right to defend himself just as any accused person would have had. In fact, He was asked on multiple occasions to plead his case. The death He suffered was indeed controversial, and no one in authority seemed to want to hand down the verdict. He had every opportunity to fight for acquittal and be spared death on a cross. Instead, He accepted this punishment as the only means by which we would be freed and his Father’s will could be carried out. This was something He desired to do out of love for his Father and for us, even if it was the most painful thing ever done. He sacrificed his life so that we could gain ours. Father, give us even a measure of the meekness and self-control that it took for your Son to suffer our punishment without coming to his own defense.