The silence was eloquent

“What do you think?”

There was silence around the table and the silence was eloquent!

Top chefs cooking in the competition for the BBC programme ‘MasterChef’.

Women and men at the top of their profession, Michelin starred, restaurant owners from high end eateries providing some of the best food prepared with the best ingredients.

One chef, in turn presenting their dish before the judges and their peers; asked his peers,

“What do you think?”

There was silence around the table. The silence was eloquent!

The judges disliked it; messy, overdone, underdone, tasteless, not seasoned, not what we expect from this chef, he has cocked up there!

His peers, professional, the best there can be… ‘Mmmm, it looks good’ – cut away to another scene. There is no more commentary.

I wonder how the chef felt. Did he just put too much into it, forgetting to taste his own food, was he concentrating in the wrong place and had victory in sight? One thing I am sure of, that when it came to the tasting and judging, the silence was eloquent.

This was condemnation of the chef’s ability, the concern not to criticise a fellow professional who had made a mistake. The silence was eloquent; he didn’t need more than the silence to be made aware something was just not right, his face gave the game away. He was discomforted. 

Jesus, in front of Pilate facing a life and death situation was challenged by a question, “What is truth?”

The man Jesus, who preached truth, was being confronted with the question he himself owned. “I came into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  John 18:37-38 NIV

Pilate finding nothing wrong with Jesus or his comments, but questioning ‘what is truth’, moved on from this question; Pilate would continue to look after his own interest. He offered the crowd Jesus freedom. But unlike the chefs who responded with silence there was a profound roar from the crowd who wanted Jesus condemned and another man freed, “NO not him (Jesus) give us Barabbas!” So Pilate gave up Jesus up to the crowd. Truth was not in sight.

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes reminds us

“A time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecc:3:7 NIV

Jesus was plied with many questions, but he kept his silence whilst those around vehemently condemned him.

There are different types of silence and many that have a purpose. Jesus was not going to pander to ranting crowds, or officials, or those in power who were not prepared to sacrifice their position. Jesus didn’t take the easy way out; his silence was not the eloquence of disappointment. It was the silence of the way to the cross. His silence to those around him was the flame that fed their fire; his silence was their reproach; “A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

We have a new place of silence, given as a gift of God, it may not be the conventional silence but it is a gift;

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10 NIV

Two final thoughts:

Did the chef go off and reflect on why his peers were so silenced by his cooking?

Did Jesus become silent – to be still and know God?

Image Credit: Revolt