The late C. M. Ward, in one of his Revivaltime sermons called “Bruised,” quoted the following letters from a child, then a lady facing divorce. The child wrote, “Our mother drinks. I don’t mean just a cocktail at parties. I mean all by herself – during the afternoon. Sometimes the woman next door comes in, and they get drunk together. When my sisters and I come home from school, Mom is usually in terrible shape. Most days, she doesn’t make the beds or clean the house. We have to do the housework, or it doesn’t get done. Then I go to the market and beg for credit, so I can have dinner on the table when Dad comes home…Please help us.” The woman in divorce court was described by her lawyer as, “haggard and overthin from loss of sleep and food, her eyes dimmed and rimmed with red because there were no more tears, quivering and shaken, although not a finger had been laid on her.” Brother Ward then asked his worldwide radio audience, “Are you that woman? Are you that living, tormented, bruised soul?”
The story of Malchus is found in the Garden of Gethsemane as Christ was being arrested for crucifixion. He must have been an important fellow, because all four writers of the Gospels record his story. Matthew, writing to the Jews, and Mark, writing to the Romans, reveal that a servant of the High Priest got his ear cut off by one of Christ’s disciples, using a sword. Luke, writing from a physician’s perspective, informed his Greek readers that it was the man’s right ear, and, also, that Christ healed him. Finally, John, penning his version to the Christian Church, gives us names. He says it was Simon Peter who did this, and the injured man was Malchus.
There are three things about this story to consider, because great things were going to happen to Malchus that night. First, MALCHUS GOT WOUNDED. In the emotions of the moment as Christ was being unduly arrested, the former fisherman was carrying a sword. He drew it, running up to the soldiers, slashing away at them. A poor slave named Malchus became his victim, avoiding having his head split open, but having his ear cut off. See the scene, Peter at one side, holding a bloody sword in his hand, and there is Malchus groaning in severe pain, blood running down his neck and over his shoulder from where his ear had been – WOUNDED! Suzanne Somers starred as herself in a special ABC Sunday night movie called “Keeping Secrets.” The ad stated, “It was a life she couldn’t bear to talk about…until now.” She confessed, “Messing up is what I did best. My life was in chaos. I destroyed my marriage. I got arrested. I was always living on the edge. There were times when I felt that this world would be better off without me. I know why all this happened. I am an adult child of an alcoholic. This is my story.”
Second, MALCHUS GOT WOUNDED BY A PERSON. Here is a man who suffered personal injury at the hands of one of the Twelve. John is the evangelist who tells us that Simon Peter was the one who wielded the sword. “Then, Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant,” John 18:10a. The Greek shows a clear separation between Simon and Peter. It was natural for Simon to act this way, so John uses his old name in connection with the sword. Malchus met Simon Peter at his worst, not his best.
Third, MALCHUS WAS HEALED. Luke says, “And Jesus…touched his ear and healed him.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, one His own followers has wrongly wounded Malchus, and the Lord takes action to vindicate the slave. Injured by a good man, but healed by Jesus. This was the last miracle of the Savior before He laid down His life. In a moment, Malchus’ ear was replaced, indistinguishable from the left ear. Note that all the gospel writers emphasize that he was only a “doulos,” the personal slave of Caiaphas the High Priest, having little time of his own and few rights. He obeyed his master in everything. The name, Malchus, was commonly found among the people of Nabatea and in Syria, so he was probably a slave of Arab or Syrian extraction. He had no light on true salvation, but in the darkness of Gethsemane, an extraordinary Light begins to shine on him. The Lord Jesus looked at Malchus and He doesn’t say, “Well, he’s just a slave, and besides, it’s only an ear.” There are no small wounds to Jesus. He will not acknowledge anyone to be a little person. He doesn’t know insignificant people. It is time for compensation, even though he is a mere slave. Further, the Son of God would not abandon a bleeding slave to go on to an encounter with the chief priests, and Herod, the king of the Jews, and Pilate the Roman Governor. He has time to help a slave, and He has time to help YOU, because He is rich in mercy.
Question: Have you been wounded? Husbands and wives can wound viciously in their marriage relationship. Parents can wound their children. David cut Absalom to the heart because of his illicit relationship with Bathsheba, a wound that Absalom never did allow the Lord to heal. Growing more resentful and bitter, he sought to destroy his own repentant father. Sadly, as is often the case, he only destroyed himself. Children wound their parents. Esau deliberately married young ladies against his parents wishes. “And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah,” Genesis 26:35. Family members wound one another. Joseph was terribly wounded by his brothers, yet, as Malchus, he allowed the Lord to heal his heart with forgiveness and mercy. Relationships in the church can be just as hurtful. We have all played the role of Malchus, but also Peter. There is “Simon” in all of us. Paul said during his imprisonment, “No man stood with me…all forsook me,” 2 Timothy 4:16. And then, we can wound ourselves through sin and failure, as did Peter in his denial of the Lord. Thankfully, he was willing to be restored, and became a pillar in the Church.
John was the only one who identified Malchus by name. At the time of his writing, Peter was dead. Church tradition says the fact that John names Malchus indicates that he was most likely saved later on. Evidently, the Christians, to whom John was writing, knew Malchus. His names means, “king.” He could have condemned Christians and the Church, but he didn’t. He forgot the injury and allowed the healing touch of Christ to be the ruling factor in his life. Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”
We have all met Malchus, and will face the same choice. A man who had been severely wounded by others gave this experience of his restoration. “I just crept to the feet of Jesus, and greatly, to my astonishment He did not scold me – He knew I had been scolded enough. He did not pity me, and He did not give me advice, either. He just put His arms around my neck and loved me. I was a new man!”
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus…touched his ear and healed him. The servant’s name was Malchus.”
Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Fl.