“The Ear of Malchus”

On March 31, Pastor Jim preaches on John 18:1-11.

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” 5 They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

The story of a sword-packing Peter and temple bureaucrat who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time has always fascinated me. The story of Malchus is mentioned in all four Gospels. Only John tells us his name and only John tells us that Peter was the swordsman. All the Gospel writers mention the pruning of the ear but only Luke tells us that Jesus restored the ear by touching it.

What do you suppose happened later that night when Jesus found himself before the High Priest under arrest on charges of blasphemy? Surely someone must have mentioned how the arrest went down and the juicy story of the slicing. “One of his disciples cut off Malchus’ ear!”

I can picture Caiaphas pausing to call Malchus forward. “Well, what do you have to say about this?” What could Malchus do but tell the truth?

“Yes boss, he cut off my ear!”

“That’s impossible, it’s on now.”

“I know boss, he put it back on.”

“Have you lost your mind, Malchus?”

I’ve always wondered what Caiaphas thought in the months and years to come whenever he saw that ear. Ears typically listen, but this ear must have spoken to Caiaphas every day of the one who had restored it.