Signs of a Coward

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Deuteronomy 30-31; Mark 15:1-25


12 Pilate replied, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done?”

They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:12-15, Common English Bible)

I read through the Scriptures. I decided where my focus would be. I came up with the title. Then I went out on the internet to find a picture. It is my usual routine when I start working on a post. What was unusual today was, when I typed in the title on Google (Google is the first place I look for a graphic), before I could look at images I saw the list of “signs of a coward. I felt obliged to share it with you.

  • He’s almost always dishonest.
  • He puts up a false bravado. …
  • He is constantly apologizing. …
  • He can sometimes be… delusional. …
  • His every move is calculated. …
  • Shys away from confrontation. …
  • He cannot face his fears. …
  • He always plays safe.


As I read the list, I couldn’t help but think all of these except, “He is constantly apologizing,” to my way of thinking, were characteristics of Pilate. Read the stories. I think you might just agree.

I found it interesting. When I read the list (from I was able to see Pilate all over it because the things I was thinking, are actually on the list.

“He’s almost always dishonest.” I am not sure we can actually see it here, but Biblical scholars and commentators certainly talk of Pilate’s dishonesty.

“He puts up a false bravado.” We don’t see it so much in Mark’s Gospel but in John’s Gospel we see Pilate saying things like, “Am I Jew?” Everyone knew Pilate wasn’t a Jew. Pilate also asks Jesus, “Don’t you know I have the power to release you or crucify you?” Again, he states the obvious. Perhaps it isn’t false bravado but bravado none the less.

He was delusional. He had a delusion that Jesus might not be who he said he was. He refers to Jesus as “The King of the Jews.” At the same time, however, he is saying it with sarcasm.

“His every move is calculated.” He didn’t want in the middle of it so when he finds that Herod is in town, he passes the buck and sends Jesus to Herod, who then just passes him back.

“Shys away from confrontation.” Our lesson tells us that Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowds. Pilate held the power. Why would he need to satisfy the crowds? He cracked down on them (see “His every move is calculated) with violence at times. Here he shied away from confrontation.

“He cannot face his fears.” Again, he wanted to satisfy the crowds. He is so afraid of the crowds, he releases a man who was in open rebellion against the government and had committed murder.

“He always plays it safe.” Pilate knew Jesus had done nothing wrong. He knew there was no reason for the crucifixion, at least as far as the government was concerned. And yet, because it was the safe thing to do, Pilate had Jesus crucified.

I would be negligent if I didn’t say, while the Jews brought charges against Jesus and insisted on Jesus’ crucifixion, and yes, Pilate did sentence him to die, make no mistake, we are as guilty of crucifying Jesus as well. Our sin did just as much to crucify Jesus as the Jews or as Pilate. You and I need to be thankful that we too are included when Jesus said, “Forgive them Father for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34a).” That is grace. It is also always something for which we should give thanks.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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