The Sword Meets the Ear of Malchus

Luke 22:49-51, CSB

“When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” 50 Then one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.

51 But Jesus responded, “No more of this!” And touching his ear, he healed him.

How should we proceed with this? Perhaps we should start with the garden of Gethsemane. The setting explains a lot. Jesus is praying alone and He asks His Father for the strength to make it to His cross. It’s said that at that He sweated out what was like drops of blood.

The usual way of praying for a Jewish man was standing, but here we read that Jesus was on His knees. We also read that an angel showed up–it says that this angel came with strengthening power. The Greek word for “strengthen” can mean to invigorate. I believe Jesus’ prayer was answered (but not the way He wanted).

Jesus now had the strength to stand up and face the terror of the cross.

Judas led the mob that came to arrest Jesus. There was the kiss of betrayal and I suppose that the torchlight wasn’t really enough to identify Jesus outright. Judas’ kiss goes into the history books as the ultimate act of a traitor. It’s probably the most wicked kiss ever given to another.

What happens next seems to come out of an R–rated movie script. Peter takes up a sword and slashes and connects with a guy named Malchus who was the servant of the high priest. An ear is chopped off and Peter has a bloody sword, but not so fast. Jesus insisted that this is not the way of a true disciple.

Some would suggest that having good swordsmanship is a vital characteristic of a follower of Jesus.

But I don’t think so.

Jesus stops the whole scene to pick up Malchus’ ear and reattach it. Peter is definitely rebuked (notice the exclamation mark in verse 51)! Being a believer means following Jesus to the garden, and then the cross. Often we look at anything that avoids these places. When we’re truly following Him we are commanded to take up our own cross daily.

“When the Church takes sword in hand, it usually shows that it does not know how to wield it, and as often as not has struck the wrong man.”

Maclaren

Malchus plays such a minor role, and yet the ear amputation speaks volumes. We discover that the implications clarify the Lord’s desire for His followers–something that makes it clear that, “His ways are not our ways.”

Even in the garden, facing arrest and torture, Jesus is still reaching out to those around Him. Malchus is Jesus’ last ‘physical’ healing of another–He is kind and merciful, and He shows us how to love our enemies.

Today is Maundy Thursday. Tomorrow the pain of the cross. But He’s in the garden now, and recognizes exactly what is going down. “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Matthew 5:43-44

Meet Lazarus

John 11:25, 26; vv. 33-44

 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[b] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 

Jesus Raises Lazarus

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 

 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

My name is Lazarus and I was a special “friend” of Jesus. We liked being with each other, and my sisters Mary and Martha also enjoyed fellowshipping with Him. Whenever He passed through Bethany, Jesus always had an open invitation to visit.

What’s it like to be dead? Many ask me this, and I suppose they want to understand, and I don’t blame them. To me, it seemed like a very deep sleep–but I didn’t dream. Those who look for any special insight, will not find it from me. And yet, I am His witness. He has incredible power over death.

I heard Him call my name.

It pierced through everything with an authority I’d never heard before. I had been laid in my tomb for 4 days and my physical body had begun to putrify. When they rolled the stone away the terrible smell of death lay heavy in the air.

I was tightly bound in cotton wraps and sticky spices had been applied to my body. Mary and Martha had objected to Jesus’ attempt. As I looked back I realize that their actions were justified. After all, who can give life when one is very much dead. And not only dead but well on the way on to decay. The smell wafted from my tomb.

I had heard His shout, and it was then death was reversed.

My heart and brain began to work again. When I came to I found that I was lying on a stone table and tightly wrapped in the clothes of the dead. I managed to sit up, and I shuffled toward the light that had entered the tomb by the stone that covered the door.

When Jesus saw me I believe that He was laughing. He gave the command to the shocked bystanders, He commanded them to unwrap me. I suppose that then I realized I was now in the land of the living. I can’t explain what had happened, But my grave clothes were unwrapped.

There were many that day that became believers.

Many had attested that I was most certainly dead, after all, they had attended my funeral. Some had observed that I had been slathered in the sticky ointment–fragrant spices. And a few were witnesses to see the stone rolled in place.

So many believed in Jesus’ power of resurrection that day–they were completely amazed and simply reacted to what Jesus had just done for me.

There were some who simply didn’t (or wouldn’t) believe.

There were the Pharisees and the Sadducees who wanted me dead hoping to nullify my witness and my resurrection from the dead.

Their hatred of Jesus’ ministry was only strengthened. My own resurrection proved His authority and power over even death. I was a walking and breathing miracle that they refused to accept. It got so bad that the religious leaders wanted to kill me because so many believed in my resurrection. I was a living witness to many.

Yes, I know that I’ll die again. But even now, in my second death, I’m not afraid anymore.

I had become an embarrassment to them, a constant reminder that Jesus had defeated death.

He alone can believe in immortality who feels the resurrection in him already.

Frederick W. Robertson

But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

John 11:53-54

Art: blogspot.com. Scripture: Christian Standard Bible, Holman Publishers; The Message, Eugene Peterson

Meet the Gentile Woman

Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus then left that part of the country and walked fifty miles to Tyre and Sidon.

22 A woman from Canaan who was living there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, King David’s Son! For my daughter has a demon within her, and it torments her constantly.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply—not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to get going,” they said, “for she is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then he said to the woman, “I was sent to help the Jews—the lost sheep of Israel—not the Gentiles.”

25 But she came and worshiped him and pled again, “Sir, help me!”

26 “It doesn’t seem right to take bread from the children and throw it to the dogs,” he said.

27 “Yes, it is!” she replied, “for even the puppies beneath the table are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall.”

28 “Woman,” Jesus told her, “your faith is large, and your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed right then.

“Please Lord Jesus, there is no one else who can rescue me!”

I believe that Jesus must’ve come just for me. He had made a long trip to the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon to find me, a pagan woman, despised by the Jewish people. I mustn’t forget that. He came for me, he reached out for my daughter and myself.

My daughter had a demon living inside her.

I knew this, and I also knew that no power on earth could rescue her–but Jesus could. I begged and I worshiped, I learned that this combination goes together like peas and carrots. You see, my daughter was possessed, filled with a satanic entity that was taking over to destroy her, I would do anything to set her free.

I was ‘blocked’ by Jesus’ followers, perhaps they didn’t understand. And yet I knew that they weren’t my obstacles, but I needed to push right through them–perhaps this is sometimes true of those who call themselves disciples. They wouldn’t let me see Jesus. And yet I had to bring her desperate need to Him.

There was no one else.

I begged and pleaded, and yet they refused me. Over and over I tried to see Jesus, to bring my terrible need to Him–the healer, the teacher—the One who worked miracles for undeserving people. I was coming to Him, not for myself but for my daughter.

It was then saw me. When He spoke it seemed that it was a hard word. He had been sent to the lost sheep of Israel, not to Gentiles like me.

But I didn’t stop pleading, I knew I was undeserving. I wasn’t righteous and I certainly didn’t belong. Trust me, I had no merit, no real right to come to Him. I had nothing, definitely not a holy life. I had zero and I knew it.

But I remembered my daughter, picking flowers and making ‘daisy chains.’ The way she used to be–she was innocent and so gentle. But recently something dark had taken over, and she had changed.

Jesus met me.

The words he spoke challenged me. “I’ve come exclusively for the children of Israel.” I understood, and yet I insisted–I fell down on my knees and saw His dirty feet; He had traveled very far. I began to worship Him. He seemed almost contemplative. “I don’t think it right to take what I can offer, and “give it to the dogs.'” But even then I insisted. He alone can heal her, there were no others.

I pleaded with Him, “even dogs can eat what falls off the table.” I may have stuttered. Jesus then spoke to me, and maybe the others. “I see that you have a large faith. I give you what you’ve asked.” And at that very instant my daughter was healed.

————————-

“Lord, help me.”

“I commend this prayer to you because it is such a handy prayer. You can use it when you are in a hurry, you can use it when you are in a fright, you can use it when you have not time to bow your knee. You can use it in the pulpit if you are going to preach, you can use it when you are opening your shop, you can use it when you are rising in the morning. It is such a handy prayer that I hardly know any position in which you could not pray it: ‘Lord, help me.’”

Charles Spurgeon

Art by Free Bible Images: the text is from the Living Bible