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


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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