He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…
St. Peter makes it almost a description of a Christian, that he loves Him whom he has not seen. Unless we have a true love of Christ, we are not His true disciples; and we cannot love Him unless we have heartfelt gratitude to Him; and we cannot duly feel gratitude, unless we feel keenly what He suffered for us. No one who will but solemnly think over the history of those sufferings, as drawn out for us in the Gospels, but will gradually gain, through God's grace, a sense of them.
1. As to these sufferings, our Lord is called a lamb in the text; He was as defenceless, and as innocent as a lamb is. Since then Scripture compares Him to this inoffensive and unprotected animal, we may, without presumption or irreverence, take the image as a means of conveying to our minds those feelings which our Lord s sufferings should excite within us. Consider how very horrible it is to read the accounts which sometimes meet us of cruelties exercised on brute animals. What is it moves our very hearts, and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes? First, that they have done no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which makes their sufferings so especially touching. He who is higher than the angels, deigned to humble Himself even to the state of the brute creation.
2. Take another example, and you will see the same thing still more strikingly. How overpowered should we be, nay not at the sight only, but at the very hearing of cruelties shown to a little child, and why so? for the same two reasons, because it was so innocent, and because it was so unable to defend itself. You feel the horror of this, and yet you can bear to read of Christ's sufferings without horror. Our Lord was not only guiltless and defenceless, but He had come among His persecutors in love.
3. And now, let us suppose that some venerable person whom we have known as long as we could recollect any thing, and loved and reverenced, suppose such a one, who had often done us kindnesses, rudely seized by fierce men, made a laughing-stock, struck, spit on, severely scourged and at last exposed with all his wounds to the gaze of a rude multitude who came and jeered him, what would be our feelings? But what is all this to the suffering of the holy Jesus, which we bear to read of as a matter of course! A spirit of grief and lamentation is expressly mentioned in Scripture as a characteristic of those who turn to Christ. If then we do not sorrow, have we turned to Him
(J. H. Newman, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.