Vol. 3, No. 16 – April 22, 2018
Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus. John 18:10
What the strong fisherman did was the expression of fugitive impulses and vagrant emotion. This is the practical peril of the man with a shallow and defective enthusiasm and commitment alongside the most powerful being in the universe.
Why did Peter not put his stock in the power and authority of Christ?
Peter was a lot like me in my early years: heat without light; energy without direction, and a consuming passion without constraining principle.
William Cowper identified Peter’s swordsmanship as “false fire of an overheated mind, intoxicated by strong delusion.”
Perhaps we need a little stage-setting. It is Thursday evening and Jesus has just come from prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane. With His disciples, He is met by a great multitude (several hundred armed men – armed with swords and staves). Their intent was to take Jesus of Nazareth to be their prisoner.
This is a ludicrous scene – a multitude of strongly armed soldiers and temple personnel to take on one “defenseless” man, or was he really? Immediately, Peter draws his sword.
As a Galilean, he was pugnacious, aiming a blow at the skull of the High Priest’s personal assistant. Peter aimed for Malchus’ neck, but wound up cutting off his right ear. Often in our anger, we miss-aim, or at least do not accomplish our intents.
So, Peter was not accustomed to looking before he leaped. What he really did was to whip out his sword and aim it at the first man in his way; but he “blew the blow.” Instead of a head rolling on the grass of the garden, it was a right ear that fell to the ground.
Impetuosity (action with little thought), rushing into a situation like a furious wind, Peter is like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another.
Peter, the man who would jump into the lake to walk on the water; he would assure the Lord that if everyone else deserted Him, the Lord could always count on Peter; Peter, the one who did not want the Lord to wash his feet, but then pronounced that the Lord should wash not only his feet, but his hands and face. Peter, the disciple that cursed and swore his denial of Christ in the courtyard during the multi-colored trial of the Savior, then heard the rooster crow.
However, we need to turn to the miracle of Malchus. The silenced mob stood by as Jesus picks up the bloody ear and replaces it to the side of the High Priest’s servant head. No one ask Him to do this miracle, He just did it! Malchus was not his friend, but a bitter enemy (remember Jesus just did this thing; this miracle). Jesus even wants His enemies to know His love for them.
The crowd should have done something. They should have ask themselves: “How can we ever hope to capture someone like this?” in their frenzy they lead Him away. Jesus knew all this for He knows all things; but Jesus just did what He did anyway!
Thinking the greatest problem in the average church to be over enthusiasm is like sending a squad of police to a cemetery at midnight to guard against a demonstration by the residents. –A.W. Tozer
When our earthly fires are kindled from His heavenly altar, all things are possible.