The Malcus’ Ear Malady
The title is a mouthful and hopefully intriguing: The Malacus’ Ear Malady. The text is from the Gospel of John account of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane at the moment Jesus is arrested. The next day, Good Friday, He was crucified just outside the city walls of Jerusalem on Mt. Golgotha. John is the only gospel writer who names Peter as the disciple who drew his sword and nearly killed the servant of the high priest. John is also the only eyewitness who tells us the name of that wounded servant: Malchus. A malady is by definition “an unwholesome or disordered state or condition (i.e., some deep malady of the soul). What I have labeled the Malchus’ Ear Malady is modeled here by Peter, yet it is a malady that infects us all.
Immediately prior to this large contingent of a detachment of Roman soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees arriving in the Garden with the mission of arresting Jesus, Peter was one of three disciples especially singled out by the Lord to participate in a critical moment in history. Matthew records that after Jesus asked His disciples excepting the three to wait for Him while He went further on to pray, He asked Peter, James and John to come with Him and to “Stay here and watch with Me. (Matthew 26:36f) Within a short time Jesus found the exhausted three sleeping, but it is Peter (Matthew records) whom He chooses to address; “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. This happens two more times! When Jesus awakens them the third time, the crowd sent to arrest Him led by Judas enters the Garden. Peter, now very much “alert, or so it seems, as they lay hands on Jesus to bind Him, impetuously draws his sword and with a swing to the head of the nearest man obviously intends a lethal blow. Fortunately, only the ear is nearly severed, and Jesus restores peace with the healing touch of His hand.
Within hours, the sleeping Peter, and the impetuous defender, is denying His Lord as he stands “alone among hostile and indifferent bystanders and observers. Note the “roller-coaster of temperament and emotions. Peter was, within the space of a brief time, too dull to recognize the spiritual import of the moment, next too impetuous in his defense to think and act Christianly, and finally, removed from the strengthening company of the disciples and Jesus, he is too fearful of what others might think to identify with his Lord. I think Peter exemplifies a malady which infects us all. At times we are too dull spiritually to recognize what Jesus is doing in our midst. At other times we are too impetuous and overbearing in “defending the Lord and the Gospel that we forget to think and act as Christ would (or are even cognizant of His revealed character and behavior), and, finally, when we are “standing alone in the world we become too weak and fearful to identify with Christ and His Word, that those among whom we move, work, and live always know who we truly are in Christ.
This is definitely a malady that needs healing. Peter overcame it, coming out of his crucible refined for leadership in the early church. I do not know what happened to Malchus, but I know what happened to Peter! As you approach Holy Week, in public worship, in private meditation, confession, and prayer, and in rubbing shoulders with the world, give some thought to the Malchus’ Ear Malady in you. There is healing in the cross for all our ills. Direct the eyes of your broken heart there, and never stray far from the cross in any aspect of your life as you “fight the good fight and “lay hold of eternal life.
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