He was not a major character around the cross. His place in sacred history is reserved for Bible trivia. His name is only mentioned once in the Bible. In the History Channel’s movie, The Bible, we see his face quite often. He is correctly pictured as the servant of the High Priest. Ironically in one scene Caiaphas, The High Priest, requests that the servant keep his ears open for any disruption caused by this man Jesus.
The servant’s name?
He was mentioned as being involved in the arrest of Jesus in the garden. People often think, incorrectly, that the Romans arrested Jesus. But actually it was the Jews. The temple guard was sent by the High Priests to apprehend Jesus and bring him in for questioning. And finally a trial.
Malchus served the High Priest. It was just another assignment. He was just doing his job. As soon as Judas planted the betraying kiss on Jesus’ check, the Nazarene would be arrested. He would be taken for questioning and trial. And Malchus would move on to other business.
But something happened in the torch-lit night that in all likelihood changed Malchus forever. In the heat of the emotion, before they could grab him, Peter grabbed his sword and swung at Malchus’ head. And cut off his right ear.
Did Peter mean to just cut off his ear? Or did he swing wildly and that’s what happened? Or did he actually mean to split his head open or cut if off? If so, Malchus probably ducked and the result was a severed ear.
Quickly Peter was rebuked by the Lord. “Put your sword in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Then Jesus did something so remarkable. So loving. So compassionate. Luke, the physician, records, “He touched his ear and healed him.”
Incredibly the temple guards are unfazed and undaunted by the miraculous display of Jesus’ power. They carry on with their business as if nothing had happened. And take Jesus to the house of Annas.
But what about Malchus? What happened to him? What did he do? Where did he go? How did he react? Tradition says that later Malchus became a Believer and was converted to Christ. The scripture doesn’t tell us. But you do wonder. Don’t you?
One moment his ear is severed, or at best dangling from the side of his face. And the next moment it’s healed and whole. Like nothing ever happened. No evidence of this event, except for the blood stain on his cloak. And the memory of the touch of the Master’s hand.
I can imagine Malchus watching the events of the trial unfold with renewed interest. Of seeing the gruesome scourging and touching the side of his face in horror. Of watching the horrible crucifixion and saying to himself, “This was an innocent man.”
That was Friday. But now it’s Sunday. He’s on guard at the temple. Standing duty. Carrying out orders from Caiaphas. And then messengers begin to arrive shouting, “The tomb is empty.” The priest are both shocked and concerned. Maybe a little smile creased Malchus lips. Possibly he touched that right ear.
I wonder when he got off work, if he went looking for Jesus? Did he see the risen Savior? Was he there on Pentecost? Did he respond to the gospel?
None of this is known. Maybe he never became a Christian. But can’t you imagine anytime someone spoke of the carpenter who rose from the dead, that he instinctively gave his a right earlobe a little tug?
Have you experienced a Friday like Malchus? Where you’ve been on the wrong side? Loyal to the wrong cause? Working for the wrong person? Have you suffered a devastating blow? A wake up call out of nowhere? A painful reminder in the dark of night of who you are?
The hand of the savior is there to touch you too. To bring healing. Health. Hope. Malchus says, “It’s possible. He healed me too.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman