Sometimes we will do anything to avoid confrontations and keep peace at any cost. We’ll run, hide, or take any abuse just to avoid trouble.
I was that way growing up.
I recall an incident when I was about eleven years old. Outside a country store there was an old fashioned coke machine with a bottle opener on the side. One day we were hanging around after school before we all walked home. Well, a couple of the boys scooped up handfuls of caps and started flipping them at me one at a time. I just dodged them, backing away. They started calling me names, like “sissy,” “coward,” and “scaredy-cat.” I didn’t do anything to change their opinions. I simply walked away and headed home as the caps bounced off my back with the guys’ laughter and giggles whizzing around my ears. Martin Luther King would have been proud of me!
When the pharisees threw their “coke bottle caps” at Jesus, he rarely answered their accusations. He just “slipped through their midst” in some miraculous way. At times, they’d get so furious with him that their anger blinded them, and he’d slip away from them unnoticed. The incident in John 8:59, “At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” clarifies that sometimes it seemed he played hide and seek with his accusers. Possibly they even called him a coward, for a coward is one who’s afraid to fight and runs from trouble.
But his accusers didn’t believe so they didn’t have a clue about his power or his motivation. He hid himself because it was not “yet his time” to die.
I’ve learned that when bullied for sharing my faith, I sometimes meekly slip away with a heart cry that those offended by the truth: “No one comes to the Father but by me” will also someday believe and “slip away” with Jesus.
Check out John 8:48-59 to see if you think Jesus was a coward.