Slow to answer

The reticence of Jesus
One of the paradoxes of Jesus as he is portrayed in the Gospels is his way of combining candor with reticence. As understandably concerned as we are with what Jesus said, it is striking to consider all that he did not say, along with the many times when he spoke by indirection. “He did not speak to them except in parables.” “He answered her not a word.”

Even the more talkative Jesus that we find in the Gospel of John can occasionally unnerve us with his silence, as in the story of the woman taken in adultery and in his interrogation before Pilate (“But Jesus gave him no answer”), and with the relative terseness of his postresurrection speeches. Indeed, John gives us the impression that the risen Christ has vanquished not only sin and death but also his own propensity for Johannine-style rhetoric.


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