The story of Malchus is one of my favorites in the Bible.
47 And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Wow. Let’s set the scene to make the impact of this story even more astounding.
Jesus and His disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went to pray. Apparently, the disciples tagged along in order to take a nap. A lynch mob came looking for Jesus. Judas walks up and plants a kiss on His cheek. It was a signal to the crowd that identified the man they were there to capture.
I can imagine things becoming pretty chaotic as the men rushed to arrest Jesus. Probably a lot of shouting, confusion, and fear as the disciples were now fully awake.
Malchus, a servant to the High Priest, Caiaphas, was there. Not sure if he was intending on helping secure Jesus, or if he was just standing back a bit, allowing the soldiers to do their job. Whatever the case, Peter comes charging in with his sword and takes a swing.
Men had come to take away the best thing that ever happened to Peter. I doubt very seriously he was aiming for an ear as a warning for them to leave. He was hoping to take the man’s head off. Malchus must have ducked or jumped back, and the result was losing an ear and not his head.
People say that when traumatic events occur, it’s as if time grinds to a halt. I wonder what it was like in that moment. Malchus drops to his knees and raises a hand to the bloody stump on the side of his head. His ear lies on the ground as blood pours down his neck.
Jesus had every reason to ignore what had happened. He was being unjustly accused of blasphemy. One of His closest friends had just betrayed Him. The mob was there to arrest Him, torture Him, and ultimately hang Him on a tree. He knew all of those things were coming. If there was one man on the entire planet who had every reason to be angry, judgmental, and selfish, it was Jesus. He walks over and picks up the ear. Here is where it gets good.
I can only imagine what we would have done. With the man’s ear in our hand, it was the perfect opportunity.
“Look, Malchus. You came here tonight with very bad intentions. I know exactly what’s going on, and what your plan is for me. You’ve got to change your ways, man. You can’t keep living like this. You’re a very bad person. Look, I’ll make you a deal. You stop doing horrible things, and I’ll consider giving your ear back. You don’t actually deserve it back, but if you change the way you’re living, we can discuss options. Here’s the line, buddy. If you step over to this side, I’ll help you. If you stay on that side, you’re on your own. Don’t even think about coming to me until you change.”
Can you imagine Jesus saying those words? Then why do we act like that towards others?
In a moment of pure compassion, undeserved mercy, and unconditional love, Jesus walks over the the very man who came to arrest Him, and heals the ear.
Think about what the rest of the day must have been like for Malchus.
Blood stains on his neck, shirt, and hands. Throughout every second of the day, whenever he touched his ear, or looked at his hands, he would remember that moment in the Garden. I don’t believe it’s possible for someone to walk away from that kind of love unchanged.
What was he thinking as Jesus hung on the Cross? Did Malchus have a family? A wife and kids? Did he tell them about what happened? I wonder what his life was like going forth from that day?
We need to wake up, Church. It’s time to stop being judgmental, holier than thou, and hypocritical. It’s a fact, people don’t deserve our time, good will, or love. Malchus didn’t deserve to have his ear healed. No one has done anything to deserve mercy and grace.
But you know what?
If we want what we deserve, we can go to Hell.
Stop trying to change people before you love them. Stop trying to prove how right you are and how wrong they are before you love them. Stop making people jump through hoops in order to earn your love.
That’s not how it works. We love, because He first loved us.