John 19:10-11 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”
When Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, He was questioned about the charges that the Jews had made against Him. Although Jesus is the Living God and retained the power to destroy Pilate and every person who falsely accused and condemned Him, He remains silent.
There are two possible reasons for why Jesus said nothing.
First: According to the law, the accused cannot be compelled to incriminate himself.
Today in the United States, a person accused of a crime is protected from self incrimination by the 5th amendment to the constitution. A similar law was in existence at the time that the High Priest questioned Jesus. It was illegal to compel Jesus to incriminate Himself. The Jews violated this law and then convicted Him because He would not answer.
“No one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be said against him unless properly attested by two witnesses.” -Maimonides
“No attempt can be made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore, not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation.” -Mendelsohn
Second: It is my personal opinion that when Jesus refused to answer the High Priest and Pilate, that He had done so because He was representing you and I at the trial for our sins. Because we are guilty and can offer no defense for our actions, therefore Jesus said nothing as He represented us.
As we examine Jesus silence from a legal standpoint, we may also conjecture that Jesus did not answer the High Priest because He was aware of the law that He was not required to answer to incriminate Himself.
Mark 14:60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”
Prophecy 249 predicts that the Messiah will remain silent before His accusers.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth;
The High Priest continues to press Jesus for an answer. Whatever Jesus said from that point on, should have been inadmissible, because the very judge who was to impartially examine the evidence, had himself pressured Jesus to answer him.
Mark 14:61-62 But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
The Sanhedrin eventually condemns Jesus to death on evidence that was illegally obtained, and was therefore inadmissible.
We might take a similar view of Jesus silence as He stands now before Pilate:
Mark 15:4-5 Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.
When Pilate scolds and threatens Jesus for not answering him, Jesus speaks up and informs this Roman ruler that the only reason He is standing before Pilate at all is because his authority to do so was given to him by God.
John 19:10-11 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”
While in His suffering for our sins, Jesus was fully in control of all the circumstances of His life, death, and resurrection. No man really had the ability to take authority over Jesus because He remained the King of the Universe, even as He was assuming the position of a servant to die for the sins of the world.
The mouth of the most powerful man in Judea were shut by Jesus, as He demonstrates that He has power over all the events of history.
There is an interesting prophecy which was made by Zechariah 11:8a in which he predicts that three shepherds will be dismissed in one month (Prophecy 344).
Zechariah 11:8a I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.
The three shepherds are:
Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68)
Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:11-31)
Herod (Luke 23:7-11)
As a result of Jesus being brought before these three evil rulers, God holds them accountable for their actions which led to the death of the Messiah. In Prophecy 344, all three of these shepherds are judged by the Lord in the very same month, after they condemned Jesus and did nothing to save His life. Each ruler had their own careers and lives prematurely ended by God. This, in fulfillment of the word of God through the prophet Zechariah.
Caiaphas was the High Priest in Israel who led the Sanhedrin and the entire nation into the rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.
Pontius Pilate saw every evidence that Jesus was innocent. By his wife’s testimony that Jesus was a good man and a warning by her to Pilate that he should not have anything to do with His conviction, he stood guilty of His blood, without excuse. Pilate observed Jesus’ refusal to defend Himself when He was repeatedly accused of crimes that Pilate knew Jesus did not commit. This Roman ruler was amazed at Jesus’ silence, indicating that Jesus was probably the only man he had ever known who did not try to defend Himself or give an answer to all the crimes He was accused of. Instead of following his conscience and letting Jesus go free, Pilate was a coward and feared what the Sanhedrin might do if he did not turn Jesus over to be crucified.
Herod never examined the evidence against Jesus himself to see if He was truly guilty. Herod brutally treated Jesus with contempt and sent Him back to those who finally put Him to death.
Although there was no real credible evidence against Jesus that should have warranted His death by crucifixion, these three shepherds refused to defend Jesus or even call for a proper trial to be conducted.
See the chapter in this book: The Six Illegal Trials of Jesus.
Zechariah’s prophecy stated that three leaders of Israel would be dismissed as a result of their harsh treatment of the Messiah.
Caiaphas was dismissed by the Syrian governor, Lucius Vitellius, who was appointed by the Roman Government.
Pilate killed himself when he was banished from his job because of his corruption in overseeing Israel.
Herod was removed by the Romans and exiled until he died.
When these three condemned Jesus and did nothing to save His life, they all had their own careers and lives prematurely ended by God. This, in fulfillment of the word of God through the prophet Zechariah.
It is interesting that each of these rulers found the end of their careers in the same month that they betrayed Jesus, just as Zechariah had predicted: I dismissed the three shepherds in one month.
Although Jesus stood before Pilate in silence, as the Servant of God, He was still very much in control of everything that happened. When Jesus refused to answer Pilate, there were two things that Pilate could have done:
1. Set Jesus free no matter the consequences to himself or his career.
2. Allow Jesus to be condemned because of his cowardice and suffer the consequences of his actions by God.
Pilate chose what he viewed as the easy way out. In reality, what appeared to be most expedient, in the end, condemned him for eternity for failing to find the Savior of the world, innocent. There are many men and women today who fail to recognize Jesus for who He truly is. They mock Him, ridicule Him, and reject Him. At the end of their short lives, when they stand before the Living God, He will avenge their actions, and none of them shall escape His wrath.
Jesus is coming to us now humbly as a servant, who is willing to lay down His life for us because of His love. If however, any of us trample underfoot the sacrifice that He has made for us and count the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified as nothing, we will suffer an end which is beyond our imagination.
Hebrews 10:29-30 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
It is both wise and healthy for us to have a genuine fear and respect for God. For it is in His power to bless us beyond imagination or to punish us beyond compression—should we persist in rebellion and defiance of His will and command to repent and be saved.
When Jesus said nothing before Pilate, He was demonstrating His true power over all the authority of every kingdom of man. Jesus allowed Pilate to question Him only so far and then He shut his mouth.
There is a wonderful result that comes from saying nothing to a person who pretends to be your superior. At some point, they have nothing left to say and then it is apparent that they have really said nothing at all.
Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him.
In the Book of 2 Kings, Ahaz became the king of Judah.
2 Kings 17:1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years.
Israel and Judah had fallen away from the Lord and forgotten Him. In place of serving the God of Israel, they had began to worship the gods of the surrounding nations.
2 Kings 17:7-8 For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, 8 and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
God sent Isaiah to testify against the people of Israel and Judah, that they should return to the Lord and serve Him only. The people would not listen; they were stubborn and proud and continued to worship and serve other gods.
2 Kings 17:13-14 Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” 14 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.
The Lord became angry with Israel and removed His protection and blessing from the nation. Soon after, Judah followed in the footsteps of Israel, and the Lord also turned them over to the hands of their enemies.
2 Kings 17:18-20 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. 19 Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight.
God allows the king of Assyria to bring up people from Babylon and other nations that they had formerly conquered, to take possession of Samaria which was located north of Israel.
2 Kings 17:24 Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.
Hezekiah begins his reign in Judah.
King Hezekiah is a good king, and he does what is right in the sight of the Lord. As a result, the Lord is with him and he prospers in all that he does. Soon after, Hezekiah determines that he will no longer submit to the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:1-2, 7 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 3 And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. 7 The LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
As a result of Hezekiah’s rebellion, the king of Assyria sends his army to Jerusalem. They stood before the people and spoke to them concerning King Hezekiah who would not submit to the authority of the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:17-20 Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. 19 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: “What confidence is this in which you trust? 20 You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me?”
Speaking to the people of Jerusalem in Hebrew, the Rabshakeh (field commander), representing the king of Assyria, determines that he will cause fear in the hearts of the people of Israel and to insight rebellion against Hezekiah their king.
The Rabshakeh informs the inhabitants of Jerusalem that none of the other nations who have attempted to withstand the king of Assyria were able to endure. All the other nations who called on their gods for help were defeated by the king of Assyria. Then He said to the people of Israel, What makes you think that you can call upon your God and be delivered?
2 Kings 18:28-35 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and spoke, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; 30 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” ’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” 33 Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ ”
The people of Jerusalem, under the direction of the Spirit of God, did something very wise. They said not a word. In doing so, they shut up the mouth of the king of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:36 But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”
King Hezekiah listened to their threats, and instead of taking matters into his own hands or being paralyzed with fear, he spread them out before the Lord. In other words, he told the Lord about all the things the king of Assyria was threatening to do to him and his people.
2 Kings 19:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
2 Kings 19:20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’
On a night shortly thereafter, just one angel came into the camp of the Assyrians and killed one hundred and eighty five thousand men. The enemy turned in defeat, and king Hezekiah and all Jerusalem were delivered by the Lord.
2 Kings 19:35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.
I write these things to remind us all of this very important time in which God delivered the enemy of Israel into the hands of His people and gave them victory because they refused to defend themselves. They stood silent before the armies of the enemy. They stood fast and silent before their enemies despite the threats and the fear they felt, even in the face of death that was certain (according to their enemies). This wise king and his people answered nothing to these threats, and as a result of their silence, God shut the mouth of the Assyrian king.
This is not only a great lesson for us when we are threatened and feel fear over what we imagine may happen to us. It is also an advanced look at the greatest of all Kings, the Lord of all lords, the Messiah. When all the powers of Hell itself came against Jesus, He stood silent against Pilate. This silence allowed God to shut the mouth of three shepherds and fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the Messiah. Jesus defeated Pilate, the Roman government, death, Hell and all sin, because He trusted in the name of the Lord and stood silent.
A secondary meaning is possible in this phrase: shut their mouths. There will certainly be complete shock and amazement by the kings of the earth when Jesus returns with His church, at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. When the Messiah comes to take authority over all the nations of the world, kings will be astounded when Jesus stands before them to take away all their authority and rule over them.
Often, when a person observes something that is so astounding, they stand with their mouth open in utter amazement at what they are seeing. This will be the destiny of all those who now mock and ridicule Jesus. On the day He returns, the mouths of all those who have treated Jesus with contempt, will be silent as they see the King of the Universe before their eyes.
There are many who, today, have not considered that the one whom they scorn will someday be the one who will rule over them. Celebrities who use their public platform to throw disdain at Jesus and all that He stands for will someday stand before Him for the judgement of their sins, and their mouths will be shut with nothing to say. Those who teach others that the Bible is not reliable, that prophecy is not important or legitimate, and that Jesus is not the Messiah, will all give an account before the very one whom they have denied as the Lord of lords.
Jesus fulfilled this Old Testament Prophecy from Isaiah 52:15 by shutting the mouths of Pilate, the elders of Israel, and all those today who stand against Him.
 Maimonides in “Sanhedrin” IV p.2
 Mendelsohn in “Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews” p.133
 Antiquitates Judaicae 18.95-97 Bond, Caiaphas, p. 86.
 Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae ii: 7
 Josephus, Antiquities 18.240–252, War 2.181–183. For the date, see Schürer 352–353 n. 42
 We should remember that when God speaks a word or makes a determination, He does not always finish that word immediately. From our vantage point it may appear that what He has spoken has not come to pass. When God speaks, what He has said is already accomplished, for no man can prevent the word of the Lord from taking place. Often in the scriptures we see God stating that something is going to happen, only to read that the actual event did not take place for many years later. When God told Abraham and Sarah that they would have son, Abraham most likely believed that this promise would occur very soon. In reality it was many years later that God accomplished His promise.
Genesis 21:1-2 And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
When God said the three shepherds would be dismissed in one month, we should not read this as all three will be visibly taken from their positions of authority on the same month. God determined on the same month that all three would lose their positions, the same month that Jesus was crucified. The visible removal of the men may have occurred later. We must understand the accomplishment of God’s word from an eternal perspective where linear time does not occur. From eternity, because God spoke this word against these three men, it was already done in the month they betrayed Jesus, the Messiah.