by Rose Zilka
In C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, Orual, the queen of an ancient city, makes her complaint against the gods. She writes the book as a discourse of how the gods have wronged her by taking everything she has ever loved away. Orual sees the broken world wherein she lives, and her response is; I don’t deserve this. Throughout her life, she cries out to the gods, entreating them to answer, but they remain silent.
The story of Christ’s crucifixion is filled with silence. Are you the King of the Jews? Pilate questions, and Christ replies, You have said so. And when Pilate entreats again, Do you not hear how many things they testify against you? Jesus gives no answer—not even to a single charge. Silence.
I do not understand Christ’s silence. I want to stand up in the scene before Pilate and yell, say something! All around him, Christ lets others speak and testify against him. You have said so, are the only words to leave his lips—leaving our own words to echo back upon us.
In the closing of Till We Have Faces, Orual at last has the chance to face the gods and read her complaint. She holds her manuscript, and begins to read. Page after page, her complaint only seems to grow longer with time. When she finally turns the last page, it dawns on her that she has been reading the same words over and over; her own voice echoing back before her. She looks up at the council of the divine, and is left in silence: The complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered.
On Good Friday, when the passage of Christ’s crucifixion is read aloud to His church, I am not standing before Pilate, defending Christ. Instead, I look down at the words in bold typeface where the congregation is instructed to read aloud the painful words, crucify, crucify him! And I listen as my own voice echoes back the words. More silence, and I wish Christ wouldsay something—but it is in His silence that I find life. It is in His silence that our accusations ring—Are you the King of the Jews—the world, life, creation? And I wait for His response, but receive none.
Upon His death, I imagine the world in utter silence. Such a silence, that the faint sound of a ripping curtain can be heard from Golgotha, until the last thread is broken, and the earth cries out—shaking, cracking, breaking open—proclaiming the Triune God’s dominion over the world. A sight that fills the centurion guarding Jesus with such awe, that he proclaims—Truly this was the Son of God! I can almost hear Christ’s answer: you have said so—allowing the words to wash over him, now covered in His redeeming blood.