Bit Parts in the Easter Story – Malchus

"The Kiss of Judas" Duccio di Buoninsegna

“The Kiss of Judas”
Duccio di Buoninsegna

Malchus, The slave of the high priest – John 18:10-11

“I got your back, Jesus”, said the fisherman.  Then he drew a sword and swung it at a man standing there.

Put your sword away.  What’s wrong with you?

“I just thought I’d try to help out.  This is gonna come up in the debrief, isn’t it?”

We’re going to have more pressing matters to discuss in the debrief.

“Oh boy.”

Put the sword down.  I got this.

So that part isn’t in entirely there and 100% of scholars that I consulted on the issue agree that it isn’t in there.

He missed.  Mostly.  Somehow, Peter hacked off Malchus’ ear but didn’t cause any other damage.  This is a failure of impressive scale when you think about it.  Imagine a person swinging a sword at another persons’ head and ONLY getting their ear.  One might even refer to it as an “epic fail”.

Luke records that Jesus touched and healed Malchus on the spot.

This is the only encounter that we are aware of between Jesus and Malchus.  It’s possible that they had met before during one of Jesus’ visits to the temple, but we’d be theorizing.  This is the only recorded encounter between Jesus and Malchus that we know of.

And this is how it goes down.

Peter attacks.

Jesus heals.

The disciple lashes out in anger.

The messiah reaches out in compassion.

The fisherman wields a weapon.

The rabbi wields love.

Peter is defending his Lord.  Peter is standing up for what is right.  Peter is… justified.  Isn’t he?

That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?  We hear it all the time about our schools and our cities.  We must defend our faith at all costs!  When our faith is attacked, we attack back.  When Jesus is slandered, abused, ignored, it’s our job to come to his rescue.  Isn’t it?

Doesn’t he need us, require us, demand us even to lift up a sword and defend him, even if it’s a ridiculous failure?

No.  Not even a little.  In fact, when we do we’re about as effective as Peter is with a sword.

52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”  (MT 26:52-54 NRSV)

To walk in the footsteps of the master is to put the sword down and trust in the plan.  Better yet, to leave the sword at home.  When the first thing we reach for is the sword, we forget who the master is and why he came.

Malchus met a disciple and he bled.  He met a follower and found pain.

When he met the master, he found healing.

When a Malchus meets you, whom does he find?



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