This week, I want us to look at one of the healings that Jesus performed in His earthly ministry. In fact, it is the very last healing that He ever performed in the flesh, according to the Gospel writers. It is the Healing of the High Priest’s servant’s ear, a man named Malchus.
So, let’s look at a couple of different accounts of this event, beginning in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 26:47-56).
Verse 47 begins with the following phrase— “And while He was still speaking.” Now it is important to know what He was speaking to His disciples when the following event occurred. It was when Jesus was warning His disciples to watch & pray when He came back from prayer and found them sleeping.
Of course, we know that Jesus was telling His disciples—particularly Peter—what to do in order to be ready for the temptation that was coming—specifically the temptation to deny Him and turn their backs on Him when He was arrested. But what we might not so easily recognize is that it also was what Jesus had to do to be ready for His temptation that ranged from Judas’ betrayal that was about to occur all the way to His crucifixion.
Now regarding this betrayal at hands of Judas, we need to know that betrayals like this are not something that should catch us off guard. As Jesus said, “A servant is no greater than his master—if they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20). I feel too often we get blindsided by these “Judas kisses,” but they are really to be expected. Church, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing has happened to you! What would be truly “strange” is if a believer went their whole life and never got the “Judas kiss.”
But I want you to notice in Matthew 26:50 that Jesus called Judas “friend” here when He asked why he had come: You see, it was not that Jesus did not know the answer to this question or that Judas was betraying Him. He knew exactly why they had come. You see though, Jesus was a friend of sinners. His perception does not change of us when we are at our worst. He still befriends us to see us repent. An interesting side note, I think.
So, when this sign given by Judas was recognized, those with him took Jesus. But we see in verse 51 that one of those who was with Jesus (whom we know from another gospel was Simon Peter) drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus.
Now we will see this in a moment, but in Luke 22:49 we see that Jesus’ disciples actually asked if they should use their swords when they saw what was about to happen. Then we see how Jesus did not either tell them no or at least they did not wait until He told them no.
But what we need to understand is that a “sword” in their days was the equivalent of a handgun today. So, you could say that Jesus’ disciples were “packin’.” And interestingly enough—because Jesus had just mentioned that the time had come where having a sword is necessary (See Luke 22:36-38). However, when His disciples heard Him say this, they gathered up their two swords and showed them to the Rabbi, and He said, “It is enough.” Many read that as Jesus saying that a couple of swords was enough, but others see Jesus as saying, “That’s it! Enough of that!” In other words, enough of that mentality of the world that “counts on” natural, carnal things to protect and provide for us.
So, here is the point of these verses: Jesus was not advocating gun control in Matthew 26:52. We have just seen that His disciples even having their “guns” was at the Master’s approval and even His recommendation. But the lesson He gives His disciples here is that we do not lean on our own natural weapons for our defense. We trust that the Lord is our defender, and do not take matters into our own hands. Not that we don’t ever use weapons, but we don’t put our trust in them.
In fact, Jesus went on to say in Matthew 26:52 that the one who chooses to take the sword was the one who would die by it. What does that mean to you? I believe it illustrates to us that whatever we choose to put our trust in to protect us is what will then have to become our protection. We know this because Jesus went on to explain to His disciples in verse 53 that if He really needed to be delivered from these guys, then He could just call on a legion of His Father’s angels to do so.
So, the point is clear: we ought to put our trust in God and not in any physical, carnal device to protect us. Now this does not mean that we don’t use wisdom either. Again, Jesus had actually told them to get some swords at one point. No, it is obvious that He was stating that we need to know when to take it up and when to keep it in its sheath. As in everything, we must be led by the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Now I want us to go over and look at John’s account of this: In John 18:1-11, we have a little bit of a different take on what transpired early that morning. And one of the things that are unique about John’s account is what transpired in verses 4-8:
In these verses we see that when Jesus asked them whom they were seeking and they responded with “Jesus of Nazareth,” His response of “I am He” caused this group of men to draw back and fall to the ground. Someone might ask— “What was it about Him saying, ‘I am He’ that would yield such power?” Well, notice that the word “He” is italicized. That means that it was not in the original texts. Therefore, Jesus just said, “I Am!” Therefore, it was through Jesus declaring those same words that brought Moses to his knees from the burning bush, that caused these men to fall down. Likewise, just like when Jesus said, “I Am” they drew back and fell on the ground, sickness and disease and all other carnal things cannot stand in the presence of the Great I AM! The name of God is enough to cause the armies of hell to fall to the ground. Amen! What an awesome testament to the power of God’s name!
In John 18:7-8, we can see that Jesus’ question of who they were seeking was a strategic question of wisdom: He was not asking this because He didn’t know the answer, but rather to use their answer to give His disciples a way of escape. Again, Jesus was thinking more about others than He was about Himself. I love the acronym for “JOY”—Jesus, Others, then Yourself. This was one of the reasons Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness more than His companions.
Jesus’ words in John 18:9 are a good word of wisdom for all of us with ministries: those who follow us and attend our meetings are there for no other reason than God gave them to us. We think we go to a certain church because we chose to, but in many of these cases, it is because God gave us to the ministry. And if we are there because of God, then we ought to have a different mentality on what we do there. On the flipside of this, if we are the ministry that people are sent to, then we should never look at people as our source. God is the One who adds to the church and He alone gives the increase! Amen!
Now in verse 10, we have the apostle John’s account of the cutting off of the High Priest’s servant’s ear: He says, “Then Simon Peter…” Interestingly enough, none of the other gospel writers mention the name either of the ardent disciple or of his victim. But there is a reason for this.
First of all, John as usual was throwing Peter under the bus. This just shows how carnal even these great men of God could be at times. As much as John used to harp on love, he still had a little rivalry going on. (Compare John 20:4-6; 21:18-22) You see, they had faults and problems like we do but they were still mighty men of God. And why? Because look at Peter’s action here: He was courageous! He was bold! He was committed and He was faithful! But even though he was ready to die for Him right here, he was the very one who would deny him just a few verses later. This is what the Lord needs—not perfect people, but people with perfect hearts (Second Chronicles 16:9).
Secondly, John said that “The servant’s name was Malchus.” The likely reason John knew this man’s name was because the apostle John was "known to the high priest" (John 18:15-16). Therefore, the mention of the servant's name by him is quite natural. Of course, none of us even knows who Malchus was—but how many of you know that we do not have to know who He is to be happy that he got healed? Which is exactly what happened: In Luke’s account (Luke 22:51), we are told— “And He touched his ear and healed him.”
So, here is my point: This healing of Malchus’ ear teaches us two very important lessons:
This is a point the apostle Paul made in Romans 5:6-11 when he made the argument consisting of “How much more?” In other words, if God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus when we were lost and enemies of God, then how much more will He pour out His love on those who love and fear Him?
Yes, when we study the Gospels, we discover that time and time again, Jesus healed them ALL! (See Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 10:1, 12:15, 14:36). And the “all” here had to have certainly included people who had no idea who He was and even those who rejected the truth that He presented to them. Now you know that most of those people who came to Him that were sick, ill and infirmed were that way because of both natural and spiritual things. For instance, you know there was a good portion of those people who had been eating the wrong things and not exercising etc. and therefore brought their own physical problems on themselves, right? Yet Jesus healed them all! Also, you know that under the covenant they had with God, they were promised healing if they obeyed His commandments, etc., but if they didn’t, He would not take sickness and disease away from the midst of them. Therefore, you have to know a lot of these Jews were sick to start off with because they had not been keeping His commandments etc. Yet Jesus healed them all! Amen.
You see, I have heard of many people who have gone to healing meetings in our generation just to criticize and find fault and walk away being completely healed. Now that is grace, church!
Now for the second question:
We see Jesus doing this throughout His ministry. In Matthew 15:30-31 we are told how Jesus healed all who came to Him, and listed in this group of sick and infirmed persons was the “maimed.” Matthew said that the “maimed” were “made whole”! This is what happened with Malchus! He had his ear severed from him and God healed him (i.e. the maimed was made whole) Glory to God!