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The Meaning of Malchus' Ear
Mat. 26:48-56     John 18:3-13    Luke 22:50-51

by Robert L. Cobb
-Administrator, News For Christians Dot Com

When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?  And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.  And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.    Luke 22:49-51   ..
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?  Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,     John 18:10-12         ..

In a small Georgia town there is huge pile of rocks stacked neatly to a height of almost 8 feet.  Located at the edge of the town limits, everyone knows that it was meant to be some type of monument.  But no one knows to whom or what.  It has stood there for over 150 years making a silent statement that has been lost over time.

Everyone knows about Stonehenge in England, another collection of rocks.  Like the Georgia town's unknown monument, no one knows what it means.  The great pyramids of Egypt and the many Indian mounds of North and South America are evidence of ancient societies and their mysteries.

The Bible has mysteries much like those monuments.  One of those mysteries is found in our text.  We have read many times the story of Jesus' last night with His disciples and the coming of the soldiers to arrest Him.  But how many times have we stopped and focused our attention on the Chief Priest's servant, Malchus, and what happened to him that night?

The healing of Malchus' ear is a monument to the character and attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Unlike those mysterious monuments mentioned above, this is a monument that can be understood and explained.  Let us examine what God is teaching us in the miracle of Malchus' ear.

Peter seemed to always be on the wrong wavelength in understanding Christ and His mission.  In Matthew 16 we read,  "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee."   He could not allow himself to believe that Christ must suffer and die.  The other disciples were also guilty of this.  When James and John wanted to call down fire from Heaven to consume those who rejected Christ, Jesus said, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of."  Another time the encouraged the Lord to eat something, fearing that the lack of food would weaken Him, and Jesus replied, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of."

Peter knew the stakes when the gang came to apprehend Jesus.  And he was ready.  Or so he thought.  He was ready to go to war, ready to kill, ready to defend His Lord against His enemies.  But Christ rebuked him.  This was not a war to be fought with swords and staves.  This was a spiritual war.  In Paul's epistles, we are again reminded that we are in a spiritual battle rather than a physical one. (2 Cor. 10:3-4 ; Eph. 6:12) 

So many times today do we need this reminder emphasized again.  Some believers today, like Peter, want to fight a physical warfare.  We battle with our brethren, our leaders, other denominations, and society.  We must remember that our battle is a spiritual one.  Malchus was the High Priest's head servant.  He was in charge of this mob, and was working on behalf of the High Priest himself.  If Jesus ever had an enemy in the human sense, this was it.  He had every right to ignore Peter's impetuous behavior.  But he did not.  Christ showed only love and compassion to one who meant Him great harm.

We must also be mindful that the lost world does not understand this spiritual purpose. (1Cor. 2:14)  Our unsaved friends and family question our commitment to the things of God.  They accuse us of "going overboard" as we devote our finances, our time and our worship to Christ.  Our rewards will be in the hereafter.  Our payoff is coming.  As we see Christ healing Malchus' ear, let us remember that our warfare is not fleshly, but spiritual.

Throughout His life and ministry Jesus was always thorough and complete in His dealings.  When John the Baptist questioned the propriety of baptizing Jesus, He said, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." (Mat. 3:15)  He reminded the disciples, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (John 4:34)

I once knew a man who was a good mechanic.  He could repair car engines and bodies as well as anyone.  Though not his profession, it was his passion and his hobby.  He decided to buy wrecked cars, fix them, and sell them for a profit.  His only problem was that he could never finish the repairs.  He would get one almost fixed, then see a "bargain" vehicle that he had to purchase.  He accumulated so many wrecked cars in his yard that the county government zoned his property as a junkyard!  He certianly didn't start out to accumulate a junkyard, but, because of his inability to finish a project, he became a laughingstock in the neighborhood.

How many of us live our Christian lives like that man?  We start out to read the Bible through in a year, but quit after a few weeks.  We decide to devote 15 minutes a day to prayer, but get so busy we forget it.  We take a ministry in our church only to give it up when the going gets rough.  Finish what you start!

When Jesus bowed His head on the cross, His last words were, "It is finished." He left a legacy of finishing what He started.  He could have allowed Himself to be taken by the mob without healing Malchus' ear.  But that was not His way.

Modern day miracles are cheap today.  Medical miracles, engineering miracles, and technological miracles are commonplace in our world.  But true miracles are those that cannot be adequately explained by by scientific law.  True miracles are acts of God. The lost world looks at the death of Christ and sees sadness.  The Christian sees the mighty power of God.  We who believe can see the great omnipotence of God in the lines of the Gospel.

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.  Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?                    Matt. 26:51-54

He withheld His great power for our benefit.  It is strange that the miracle of Malchus' ear being restored is mentioned only in the Gospel of Luke.  Jesus did this great miracle so matter-of-factly that many there missed it in the commotion.  The world focuses on Christ's suffering and death and wonders, "If He was God, couldn't He have done something to stop it?"  The above scripture answers "yes."

We Christians need to realize the lesson the Scripture is teaching us here.  There WILL be tough times; there WILL be heartaches, dispair, and trouble in the Christian life.  God allows those times, but He also sends some miracles even in the pain.  That is His omnipotence.  That is His power.

On May 3rd, 1999 Pastor Troy Withey and his wife Trina, were moving into their new parsonage. He had just become pastor of the First Baptist Church of Mulhall, Oklahoma.  They had spent the day moving in: unpacking boxes, placing furniture and getting to know their new home.  Late that evening, as they prepared to shower and get ready for bed, they found that they had no hot water.  The water heater had quit.  "It had been working earlier in the day -- we had done some dishes," the pastor explained later. "But it just stopped working."  They called a deacon and he invited them to his house for the night.  They accepted his invitation with thanks.  He had a big day tommorow; he was preaching his first sermon as the pastor.  While at the deacon's house, a TV bulliten informed them that a massive thunderstorm with tornadoes was heading directly for them.  They took shelter in the deacon's basement and waited the storm out.  An hour later, they came upstairs to survey the damage.  There were trees and power lines down.  Anxious to find out about their own new home, Troy and Trina drove the 3 miles to the parsonage.  When they arrived, they found that the parsonage was completely gone, nothing left but a cement foundation.  You could say, "What bad luck!  Why didn't God take care of His preacher?"  But if you ask Pastor Troy and Trina, they will tell you of God's personal care for them.  The broken water heater "was just God delivering us,"  said Troy.

In Rowena, KY on December 21, 2000,Emergency medical technicians acalled it a miracle. A 33-year-old South woman was torn in two and died instantly when she was thrown from a cot in the sleeping compartment of a semi-trailer truck on. The crash tore her premature baby from the womb, one month shy of its delivery date. When emergency workers arrived on the scene, they discovered the child, alive, with only one tiny cut to its knee, still tied to its mother by the umbilical cord.
The child’s father was the driver of the rig. His seat belt was fastened and he was uninjured after losing control of the truck on an icy stretch of the highway. The baby boy was named Patrick, in honor of the first person on the scene to offer help.

As you study the Gospels and the life of Christ, you will find that Jesus never turned away a person in need. When Jesus found suffering, He relieved it!  When He found sickness, He healed it!  When He found death, He enlivened it!  Oh how we need to appreciate this truth about our Lord Jesus Christ!

A leper came to Him (Luke 5:12-13) and said, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean."  Jesus' answer to him illustrated His whole ministry: "I will: be thou clean."   He healed all manner of sick, He raised the dead, He blessed the little children.  And He did each miracle individually!

So when Peter impertinently cuts off the ear of the servant, Malchus, Jesus works one more miracle.  He simply picks up the severed ear and places it back on Malchus' head.  The childrens' Hymn says, "Jesus loves me, this I know; For the Bible tells me so."  The love of God is an individual love, a personal love!

The father and his teenage son were arguing over rights and responsibilities.  The teen wanted his "rights" and the father wanted him to fulfill his responsibilities.  Angry words were spoken and the 15 year old said, "I'm just gonna leave. The first chance I get, I'm gone."  Immediately the father's heart melted.  "I'm sorry.I love you, son. Let's try to work out our disagreements without arguing."  That was the first time in a long time that the father had told his son that he loved him.  It made a difference.

In the healing of Malchus' ear, God is telling us that He loves us...every one of us...individually.

People today have heard the name Jesus all their lives.  Many have heard many sermons and messages about Him.  There have been movies made about Jesus, that are shown over and over.  Yet so few really know Him.  His disciples followed Him for 3 1/2 years and he still said to them, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me."  (John 14:9)  Jesus was a man, yet He was God.  But even as the great God-Man, He loves each of us with an individual, singular love.  The disciples, like us today, had trouble understanding all that Jesus was and is. 

As the head servant of the High Priest, Caiphias, Malchus knew the claims of Christ and he knew what the religious leaders, like his master Caiphias, thought of Him.  They said that He was a charlatan, a fake, a false messiah, and a heretic.
Malchus was a servant and he was given a job to do.  Take an army of men and bring in this Jesus to Caiphias' home for trial.  It was just a job.

But the Bible does not record what Malchus thought of this so personal of a miracle.  He saw a sword and ducked, then felt a sharp pain on the side of his head.  He, no doubt, felt the blood flow down his neck and onto his clothes.  He probably heard a ringing sound deep in his head.  But this Malchus, who had felt the healing hands of Jesus touch him,  continued with his assignment.  He brought Jesus bound to the home of his master.

Did he ever recount the events of that night in his head?  Jesus had given him one last glimpse of His glory and diety.  He had personally shown him who He was.  He was not the false prophet that his master had talked about and worked against.  He was the Son of God.  He was the Messiah, the Christ.  But he had a hand in Jesus' death.  He, like the others of his day, rejected Jesus, even in the face of the miracles and mighty works that He did.

Conclusion:  I am nothing but a messenger of God.  I take the Scripture and preach it to you.  Though my words have no power, the Words of God are all powerful!  Christ is calling you to Him!  He loves you as He has loved every person who ever lived.  Don't reject Him as Malchus did.  Don't walk over all the blessings and miracles that He has given you in your life.  Accept Him today!

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