I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Peter cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest. It’s by no means a major part of the Passion, but it communicates quite a bit in just a few short sentences.
According to John’s Gospel (18:10), the servant’s name was Malchus.
But that’s all we know about this man, except that Jesus stepped in and miraculously healed him.
We don’t know anything about his family, his background or what happened to him after that fateful Thursday night.
So, I think I’ll speculate.
First, I don’t think Peter was aiming for his ear. I think Peter was aiming for his throat. He wanted him dead.
Second, isn’t it both telling and remarkable that Jesus would have chosen Malchus as his last healing while on earth – someone who was part of the contingent responsible for leading him to the site of his own crucifixion?
I don’t think that’s by chance.
That Jesus would step in and heal that man at that moment illustrates, I believe, the very nature of the Son of God.
Yes, He is about truth and justice, but He’s simultaneously about grace, peace, forgiveness and making all things new. He is about making things whole and right, even the ear of an “enemy” servant.
But whatever became of Malchus?
Some have speculated that he’s another example of a person who witnessed a miracle but chose not to believe. Those who hold to this line of thought cite the fact that John and the other writers are silent on his fate and that he never comes up again.
I’m not so sure.
I like to think that Malchus was so moved by the miracle, so struck by the tender touch of Jesus’ hand on his face that he came to believe and eventually became a Christian, so overwhelmed was he by the evidence and totality of the experience.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.
This story helps remind me that if Jesus was willing to heal one of the men caught up in the plot to kill him, shouldn’t I be willing to talk with those with whom I disagree?
Shouldn’t our hearts be tender to those who are swinging for us, who want to lay us low?
That’s what this story tells me. And as Lent begins this week and we begin our climb to Calvary, it reminds me to be mindful of the fact that in God’s economy every person matters and that “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).