“The Ear of Malchus”

On March 31, Pastor Katy 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 Malchus and his ear is present in all four Gospels, but the details vary. The Gospel of John is the only version in which this man, the high priest’s slave and enemy of Jesus, is named. John also fails to mention that with a single action, Jesus heals the ear that Peter cuts off in his defense of Jesus. Maybe the healing itself is not important to John, not the point of this story about a man named Malchus. There’s something powerful and disarming about looking our enemies in the eye and calling them by name. It could be that the mere act of humanizing our enemies is far more miraculous to John than any miracle of healing.