Cowards and Heroes…
Who are the bigger cowards, the men who came to arrest Jesus or His disciples who abandoned Him?
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs, to seize me? Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me; but that the scriptures may be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled. -Mark 14:48-50, NAB
The Bible is filled with stories of heroism and acts of valor; this is not one of those moments. Instead, it is a time when mankind shows the depths of its cowardice – abandoning God (Jesus) and even persecuting Him.
The mob, which was sent by the chief priests and scribes, shows its cowardice in its use of force. Armed with swords and clubs, they were treating Christ like a common, violent criminal. They used unnecessary force to arrest a peaceful, innocent man. Was it really necessary for them to arrest Him in that manner? And why did they wait until the night, as Jesus pointed out? They had plenty of opportunity during the day.
Another example of their cowardice comes in their justification for arresting Jesus. Jesus had not done anything wrong. They waited and waited for the perfect time to bring erroneous charges against Him. Jesus was not arrested for being a criminal, but for inspiring the people. The chief priests feared that He would start a revolt against Rome, so they decided to silence Him.
The last, and possibly worst, form of cowardice in this story is the abandonment of Jesus by His disciples. Mark 14:50 states, “And they all left him and fled.” When Christ needed them by His side the most, they ran. One young man went to all lengths to get away and ran off naked:
Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. -Mark 14:51-51, NAB
Despite the many great stories of heroism in the Bible, this verse highlights three examples of extreme cowardice, and we can learn as much from these examples of cowardice as the tales of heroism. Whether we become a hero or coward usually depends on a single choice. If David had run from Goliath, he would have been labeled a coward, but because he stood and fought, we know him as a great hero.
When you are left with the choice to be a hero or coward, which will you choose? Will you let fear dictate your choices, like the chief priests? Will you abandon God when He needs you, like the disciples? Life will bring difficult situations, and you will be faced with the choice: be a hero or be a coward. If the world was filled with a few more heroes and a few less cowards, it might be a completely different place.