Whispered Lessons From The Ear Of Malchus


The mob had gathered and was now in route to find the man they considered a dissident, rebel, radical and heretic. Among them was a man by the name of Malchus. He was no more than a servant, and no one knows for sure if he was acting because he was passionate about the cause, or just following orders. Yet he found himself among the band of men searching for this traitor. The success of finding this rebel rested on the shoulders of one of the mob. He alone knew the traitor’s face. He alone could point him out. Malchus followed closely behind and was there at that moment in time when the “kiss” of Judas landed on the cheek of the Savior of the world. The gospel of John recorded what happened next.

“Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11)

Further light is shed on this scuffle by the words of Matthew when he wrote:

“And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.”

The above account has always left me with some lingering questions about Malchus. What ever happened to Malchus? We don’t know. I can only imagine and hope! As the mob scene moved from the Garden of Gethsemane to the streets of Jerusalem, perhaps Malchus was left standing there, alone, in the garden holding onto his right ear. His ear had been chopped off. I assume it fell to the ground, only to be retrieved by the Savior and miraculously reattached. What kind of man could perform such a miracle he must have thought? It’s hard for me to imagine him continuing onward in the mob as they pushed and shoved the Savior down the city streets to his ultimate death. History is silent regarding Malchus. But in my heart of hearts, I have always thought that he might have become a great champion of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Someday I hope to find out the life story of Malchus. I hope it is as inspiring as I have imagined. The healing of Malchus by Jesus, is an astounding lesson of the vision and kindness of our Lord and Savior even at his greatest hour of betrayal.

A more important lesson for me was the action of Peter, who impetuously smote off the right ear of Malchus and then was scolded by the Savior for doing so. Even though Peter’s heart was in the right place, it didn’t mean his actions were justified. I’m sure you wouldn’t call Peter’s actions sinning, but rather,  more like “imprudent”. Clearly Peter’s actions were based on emotion and a lack of understanding the big picture. Sometimes all of us can lose sight of the real intent of the gospel.  Occasionally our emotions get the better of us.

The action of Peter in cutting off the right ear of Malchus, and the Savior’s mild rebuke, is a reminder to us all, that just because our hearts are in the right place, doesn’t mean that our actions bring about good things. Let us be guided by temperance and the spirit and not by simple emotion.  For while our hearts may be pure, our deeds may cause harm to others.

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