He came to arrest Jesus…and was healed.
His name was Malchus, a servant of the Jewish high priest. He was among the armed detachment of troops and officers sent by the chief priests and elders of the Jewish council to seek and arrest Jesus of Nazareth. Judas Iscariot led this band of men with swords and clubs to the Garden of Gethsemane where he knew they would find Jesus and His disciples. When they encountered Jesus, His disciple Peter was quick to rise to his Master’s defense, drawing out a sword and slicing off the right ear of the man Malchus.
Now you might think this would have immediately escalated into a free-for-all, knock-down-drag-out brawl, but something totally unexpected suddenly happened to halt the fight before it could ever begin: Jesus reached out his hand, touched Malchus’s ear and restored it in whole.
Can you imagine this scene? This posse is out on a mission to arrest someone they think is a criminal or a raving mad, heretical teacher, and they go with their swords and clubs because they expect to be met with resistance. They go prepared for a fight, and if Peter had had his way, they would have gotten a bloody one. However, instead of finding a fight, they encounter humility, compassion and an act of healing. This must have baffled them all.
What do you suppose was going through the mind of Malchus after this? Do you suppose that Malchus or any of these individuals present at that time might have questioned if they were doing the right thing by apprehending this Man? Do you think as they led Jesus willingly and humbly to be judged and condemned by the high priest that they might have considered that maybe, just maybe, this Man could be what He outrageously claimed to be, the Son of God, the Messiah?
In this encounter, Jesus practiced what He preached: love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, return good for evil. How many of us who call ourselves Christians would follow after our Master’s example? Too often, when others attack us with just mere words and mean looks, we are too ready to puff up and get all defensive and spat off angry words and return evil for evil rather than remain calm and choose mercy and love. Like Peter, we are too quick to rise up to defense. However, Peter the disciple became Peter the Apostle. Over time, Peter learned to follow after the Master and to be more like Him, and so can we as well.
We don’t know what kind of impact this incident had on Malchus. We don’t know if his unforgettable encounter made him a believer of Christ or not, but we also may never know when an unexpected act of kindness on our part may lead someone to Christ. We never know when someone’s hateful words or actions may be a result of pain and suffering going on in their lives. When we make the effort to be like Jesus, to be patient and offer them compassion and kindness, it may be the very thing they need at that moment to heal their broken heart, and to lead their broken lives to Christ.
You can read about this encounter in the following passages: Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-49; Luke 22:47-54; John 18:1-13