“He Opened Not His Mouth”

Isaiah, who knew something about preaching to an unreceptive audience, prophesied that the Messiah would be “despised and rejected” by many (Isaiah 53:3). He foresaw the Savior suffering with calmness: “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, italics added).

Abinadi, who delivered an unwelcome message from God to King Noah and his priests, quoted this prophecy. (See Mosiah 14.) He was certainly attuned to the difficulties of maintaining your composure when communicating with a hostile audience.

On the night before the Savior’s crucifixion, He was questioned by multiple people, including Annas (John 18:13), Caiaphas the high priest (Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65, Luke 22:54, 63-71, John 18:19-24), Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-4, John 18:28-38), and Herod (Luke 23:8-11). On some of these occasions, He provided brief answers to the questions He was asked. In other instances, He was silent:

  • “The high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:63). (See also Mark 14:60-61.)
  • “The chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing” (Mark 15:3). (See also Matthew 27:12.)
  • “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” (Matthew 27:13-14). (See also Mark 15:4-5.)

But the most complete fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy came when Pilate sent Jesus to Herod:

And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.

Luke 23:8-10

How hard would it be to stand with dignity and self-assurance under such circumstances?

Subsequently, while hanging on the cross, the Savior spoke words of extraordinary self-discipline and unselfishness: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). “Woman, behold thy son!” And to John: “Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26-27). To one of the thieves crucified beside Him: “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Elder Mark A. Bragg said, “Spiritual poise blesses us to stay calm and focused on what matters most, especially when we are under pressure.” He shared the following quote from President Hugh B. Brown: “Faith in God and in the ultimate triumph of right contributes to mental and spiritual poise in the face of difficulties” (“Christlike Poise,” General Conference, April 2023).

Today, I will strive to follow the Savior’s example of restraint when I am in difficult circumstances. I will remember Him standing calmly as others railed against Him, responding with dignity or saying nothing at all, and remaining unselfish and kind even while He suffered.

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