The story of Malchus is found in all four Gospels, and all with small differences. All four accounts tell us that one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, according to the gospel of John, drew a sword, and swung it towards Malchus, resulting in his ear being cut off. Only Luke’s gospel records the healing of the ear.
A few things stand out about this scene.
The first is just the extreme intensity, this is the final showdown, the end or at least what the Pharisees thought would be the end of Jesus’s ministry. Jesus asks them a simple question who are you looking for and when Jesus identifies himself the power of God throws the soldiers to the ground. As the soldiers get closer to the Lord in the gospel of Luke we read that the disciples asked “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” and before Jesus can answer Peter kicks it off swinging for Malchus’ head. I’m sure the 12 legions of angels in heaven Jesus spoke of were chomping at the bit too just waiting for the word to be released for a righteous beatdown.
But then there’s a change, and the intensity drops, in my mind it probably reminded the disciples of when Jesus calmed the storm. Chaos followed by immediate peace and calm.
Jesus said, “put your sword in its place for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
And as he reached toward Malchus’ bleeding head he said “permit even this” indicating for the disciples not to interfere and let them take him, and he touched Malchus’ ear and he was healed.
The second thing that you can’t ignore about this story is what had to be going through Malchus’ mind. He had faced death and literally missed it by an inch, lucky for him fishermen probably didn’t get a lot of sword practice. Malchus had come to do Jesus wrong, Malchus’ name meant king but this man had just come face to face with the King of all the heavens and earth.
Then Jesus allows the soldiers to seize him. I bet Malchus was feeling some serious guilt, the guy he came to arrest just showed him mercy when he deserved none, who is this guy that can reattach a whole ear by just touching it, A man that would do good even when being served injustice. Is this guy who he said he was? Is this Jesus really the son of God? What Malchus did not understand that we do are the words of Romans 5:8:
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
Malchus came into that garden with his posse probably a proud arrogant man because of the earthly position he had and the earthly power he wielded, but he left having been humbled by the only truly humble king.
That’s what happens to each and every one of us when we come to Jesus. We all can identify with Malchus. Malchus was not just a casualty of war he was actively in rebellion against the goodness of God. He did nothing to deserve God’s grace, but he received it despite himself.
Today when we take communion remember that the last person Jesus healed before his death was his enemy, We were all once enemies against the goodness of God, we were part of the arresting mob, and the mob who mocked him. We didn’t deserve his grace, but Jesus laid down his life on the cross he healed all people who would repent and believe in him. He will heal the wounded that call on his name.