And What About Malchus?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 30-31; John 18:1-18

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?” 12 Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the guards from the Jewish leaders took Jesus into custody. They bound him 13 and led him first to Annas. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. (14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was better for one person to die for the people.)

Imagine if you can. You are in the army. Well, you are sort of in the army. The real army is the occupying force that is in control of your country. You are actually part of a paramilitary group passing themselves off as servants of the high priest. You are sitting around the “barracks,” minding your own business when your unit is ordered out to go make an arrest. This would be pretty unusual. Remember, you are in no way an official military or police group. But, being the good “soldier” you are, you go out with the intention of following your orders. Hey, its a diversion and in an era where entertainment options were limited, any diversions were welcome. What did you care if it was to go out and arrest some guy that was probably doing something really wrong? He had to be, why else would the high priest want him arrested. So off you go to the Garden of Gethsemane.

When you arrive there is a bit of a ruckus going on. You are there to arrest this man named Jesus. There was a stir earlier in the week when he came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. It reminded lots of people of Judas Maccabees from the history stories. You don’t know what Jesus did and you don’t really care.

As the arrest is about to happen, Jesus admits he is the one we have come for, one of his disciples, the one called Peter, pulls out a sword, swings it and cuts off your ear!!! Man, that hurts. And now, to say you are angry, what an understatement. You are ready to tear this guy Peter limb from limb. You also have a whole unit of paramilitary “soldiers” who are ready to back you up. Peter and his little mob don’t stand a chance.

That is when the unexpected happens. Jesus, the guy you are there to arrest, bends over, picks up the ear and places it back on your head. Not only does the ear stay in place, the pain is gone too. It’s like nothing ever happened. How could you go tear this Peter guy apart now?


There is nothing more known of Malchus. While he is mentioned in all four Gospels, only Luke and John mention his healing and only John tells his name. None tell us what happened later though we do know he was canonized by both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

There are legends about Malchus. One says he ran away from Caiaphas had a few brushes with death from his pursuers and ended up living out the remainder of his life as a faithful disciple of Jesus.

Most names fade away into history. Malchus’ name did not. While none of the Gospel writers gave his name, it is clear the early church did know of him and seemed to speak favorably of him.

I cannot help but believe that the second Jesus put his ear back on his head, Malchus’ life changed in ways he would never have expected and he made the decision to become a disciple of Jesus.

Two thousand years from now, no one may remember our names. But, because of faithfulness, God will still know us just as I believe God knows Malchus. Thanks be to God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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