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THE SILENCE OF THE LAMB

(SERMON NUMBER 8 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, March 24, 2013

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).


It is always inspiring to hear the last words of Christian martyrs. It lifts our hearts to hear their dying words. Polycarp was a preacher early in the second century. In English his name is Polycarp, in Latin it is Polycarpus. Polycarp had been a student of the Apostle John. Years later he stood before a pagan judge, who said, “You are an old man. It is not necessary that you die…Take the oath and I shall release you. What harm is there to say ‘Lord Caesar,’ and to offer incense? You have but to swear by Caesar and I will gladly release you. Deny Christ and you will live.”

Polycarpus replied, “Eighty-six years have I served [Christ], and He never did me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” The judge said, “I shall have you consumed with fire.” Polycarpus answered, “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched. Do you not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment laid up for the impious [lost]? But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”

At this the judge sent his herald into the arena to proclaim loudly to the people, “Polycarp has confessed himself to be a Christian!” “Burn him alive!” screamed the crowd of pagans. A fire was prepared. The executioner approached Polycarp to nail him to the stake. Polycarp said calmly, “Leave me as I am. He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you wish from nails.”

Then Polycarp lifted his voice in prayer, praising God that he was “deemed worthy to die.” The fire was lighted and a sheet of flame flashed up around him. When his body did not crumble in the flames, an executioner stabbed him with a dagger. So ended the life of Polycarpus, pastor at Smyrna and student of the Apostle John (see James C. Hefley, Heroes of the Faith, Moody Press, 1963, pp. 12-14).

Spurgeon told of “Jane Bouchier, our glorious Baptist martyr…when she was brought before Cranmer and Ridley,” two bishops of the Church of England, who condemned this Baptist to be burned at the stake, saying to her that burning was an easy death. She told them, “I am as true a servant of Christ as any of you; and if you put your poor sister to death, take care [be careful] lest God should let loose the wolf of Rome on you, and you have to suffer for God too.” How right she was, for both these men were also martyred shortly thereafter! (see C. H. Spurgeon, “All-Sufficiency Magnified,” The New Park Street Pulpit, volume VI, pp. 481-482).

Though separated by many centuries, Polycarp and Jane Bouchier made strong statements of faith when they were burned at the stake. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ did not do so when threatened with torture and death! Yes, He had spoken to the high priest. Yes, He had spoken to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. But when it came time for Him to be flogged half to death and then nailed to a Cross, the words of the prophet Isaiah describe the wondrous fact that He was silent!

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

He said not a word as they beat Him! He said not a word as they nailed Him to the Cross! Let us come to our text and drink deeply from it by asking three questions and answering them.

I. First, who was this man called Jesus?

Who was it of whom the prophet spoke, saying,

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth…”? (Isaiah 53:7).

The Bible tells us that He was the Lord of glory, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son in human flesh! As the creed says, “very God of very God.” We must never think of Jesus as a mere human teacher or a mere prophet! He did not leave us room to think of Him in these terms, for He said,

“I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).

Again, He said,

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

If any other man had said those things we would call him demonized, delusional, distracted, delirious or deranged! But when Jesus said that He and God the Father are one, and when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and words like that, we pause and, even the worst of us, wonder if He may not be right after all!

Though I do not always agree with C. S. Lewis on other points, how can we disagree with his famous statement about Jesus Christ? C. S. Lewis said,

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be a Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (C. S. Lewis, Ph.D., Mere Christianity, Harper Collins, 2001, p. 52).

“You can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God…You must make your choice,” for Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

There you have it! You cannot mix Jesus with Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam simply because Jesus “has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” Christ left us with no other options. He said, “No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” As C. S. Lewis said, “You can spit at Him and kill Him…or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God…You must make your choice.” It is one or the other. No one is really neutral on this! They may pretend to be, but they never really are neutral. “He has not left that open to us.”

II. Second, why did Jesus fail to defend Himself before those
who tortured and killed Him?

Why is it that

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth”? (Isaiah 53:7).

The great scientist Albert Einstein, though not a Christian, said,

No one can read the [four] Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life (Albert Einstein, Ph.D., The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929).

Yet when He was flogged and crucified Jesus said nothing! Why did Christ fail to defend Himself to those who beat Him and killed Him? The French philosopher Rousseau, though an atheist, strangely got near the answer to that question when he said,

If Socrates lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a God (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French philosopher, 1712-1778).

Jesus did not defend Himself because His very purpose of coming down to earth was to suffer and die on the Cross. A year before He was crucified Jesus made that clear.

“From that time forth [from that time on] began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

The Applied New Testament Commentary says,

Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God [Mark 8:29]. But [Peter] still did not understand what Christ came to earth to do. He thought like the other Jews thought, namely, that Christ had come to be an earthly king. Therefore, when Jesus told him that [He] must suffer many things and…be killed, Peter could not accept it. He rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing. Jesus also said that after three days [He] would rise again. Jesus knew, not only that He would die, but also that He would rise from the dead on the third day. The disciples didn’t understand this at all (Thomas Hale, The Applied New Testament Commentary, Kingsway Publications, 1996, pp. 260-261).

But we should understand it.  The Bible says,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
       (I Timothy 1:15)

by His death for our sins on the Cross, and by His resurrection, which gives us life. Jesus did not speak out and defend Himself when He was flogged and crucified because, as He said to the Governor Pilate, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37).

III. Third, what does the text tell us about the silent suffering of Jesus?

Please stand and read Isaiah 53:7 out loud one more time.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb [silent], so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

You may be seated.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted.” Dr. Young says that this can be translated, “He [allowed] himself to be afflicted.” “In being afflicted he was voluntarily suffering…No self defence or protest issued from his mouth. One cannot read [this prophecy] without thinking of the fulfillment, when before the judgment seat of Pilate the true Servant answered not a word. ‘When he was reviled, reviled not again’ [When he suffered he threatened not]” (Edward J. Young, Ph.D., The Book of Isaiah, Eerdmans, 1972, volume 3, pp. 348-349).

“Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly [was greatly surprised]” (Matthew 27:13-14).

“And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marveled [was surprised and amazed]” (Mark 15:3-5).

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb [silent], so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

In Isaiah 53:7 Christ is compared to a lamb. In the Old Testament, men brought sheep to slaughter them for sacrifice to God. To prepare a sheep for the sacrifice they sheared it, cutting off all the wool. The lamb stood silently as it was sheared. As the sacrificial sheep was silent when it was sheared and slaughtered, “so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

John the Baptist also compared Jesus to a sacrificial lamb when he said,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

When you trust Jesus by faith, His sacrifice on the Cross pays for all your sin, and you stand without guilt before God. Your guilt is atoned for by His death on the Cross. And your sins are cleansed by the Blood He shed there.

David Brainerd, the famous missionary to the American Indians, proclaimed this truth throughout his ministry. As he preached to the American Indians, he said, “I never got away from Jesus and Him crucified. I found that once these people were gripped by the great…meaning of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, I did not have to give them many instructions about changing their behavior” (Paul Lee Tan, Th.D., Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, Assurance Publishers, 1979, p. 238).

I know that is true today as well. Once you see that

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”
       (I Corinthians 15:3),

and once you surrender to the crucified and risen Saviour, you are a Christian. The rest is comparatively easy to explain and understand. Trust Christ by faith and you are saved!

As he lay dying, Spurgeon said, “My theology is found in four little words – ‘Jesus died for me.’ I don’t say this is all I would preach if I were to be raised up again, but it is more than enough to die upon. Jesus died for me” (Tan, ibid.). Can you say that? Can you say, “Jesus died for me”? If not, will you surrender to the risen Saviour and trust Him tonight? Will you say, “Jesus died for me, and I surrender to Him and trust Him for full salvation by His Blood and righteousness”? May God grant you the simple faith to do so. Amen.

Please stand and sing hymn number six on your song sheet, “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley.

And can it be that I should gain
   An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
   For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
   That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
(“And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

If you are convinced that Jesus can pardon your sin and save your soul, we would like to speak with you about becoming a Christian. Please leave your seat and walk to the back of the room. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet room where we can talk. Go right now to the back of the auditorium. Mr. Lee, please come and pray for those who responded. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 52:13-53:7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“A Crown of Thorns” (by Ira F. Stanphill, 1914-1993).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMB

(SERMON NUMBER 8 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

I.   First, who was this man called Jesus? John 10:30; 11:25;
John 14:6.

II.  Second, why did Jesus fail to defend Himself before
those who tortured and killed Him? Matthew 16:21;
I Timothy 1:15; John 18:37.

III. Third, what does the text tell us about the silent suffering
of Jesus? Matthew 27:13-14; Mark 15:3-5; John 1:29;
I Corinthians 15:3.