THE MALCHUS INCIDENT
John 18:10-12 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him. (Also See Matt. 26:51-56; Mark 14:47-52; Luke 22:49-53)
John's account of this incident is more concise than the other three gospels. But because it has a few more specific details it is used as the lesson text in this study, however a number of references will be made to the other corresponding gospel authors.
Jesus had just been identified by Judas, and by His own confession, Jesus assured the Jewish guards and Roman soldiers that He was the one whom they were seeking. As they approached Jesus, His apostles saw what would follow, (and) they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword (Luke 22:49)? The apostles were ready to defend Jesus and themselves from those that were about to arrest Him and take Him into custody. Some question whether the apostles carried weapons during their service to Christ Jesus, but we only have to refer back to Luke 22:38 to find that among them they carried two swords. It seems that without Jesus answering their question on whether to defend themselves with their swords, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear (Matt 26:51). Without identifying this aggressive apostle, both Mark and Luke give practically the same reading. However, John, as noted in the lesson text, tells us that it was Simon Peter that drew his sword, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. John, then, identifies this servant of the high priest (who most likely was Caiaphas), as a man called Malchus.
Observing this incident, Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath. Matthew gives this same rendering, but also tells us that Jesus added this reprimanding truth: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Matt. 26:52). Although spoken directly to Peter, and teaching him a New Testament, scriptural truth, it also seems to be a prophetic message to the world. History seems to bear this out that all people that contend in battles with others, whether it is to gain wealth, new lands, or merely to satisfy their egotistical superiority, will generally, sooner or later, die in battle.
After telling Peter to put away his sword, John adds this reason, in the form of a question, for doing so: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? This is the same "cup" of human anguish, suffering, and death that Jesus prayed to God for relief, but qualified it by saying, nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done, after which God sent an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him (See Luke 22:41-43). Receiving this answer from God, Jesus was now willing to suffer the "cup" given to Him by God - He was now ready and willing to drink it.
Immediately after Peter cut off Malchus' ear, Luke tells us that Jesus touched his ear, and healed him (Luke 22:51). From the descriptions of other accounts, Malchus' ear wasn't merely injured by Peters' sword, it was cut off - completely severed from his head. Certainly this was another miracle of Jesus that was witnessed by His apostles, His disciples, and even during this moment of time, by His enemies. The miracle could have been performed by either, taking the severed ear and reattaching it to the side of Malchus head, or He could have touched the place where the ear was severed and created a new one in its place. This, as well as many other miracles, was impossible for any other human being to perform, which gave indisputable proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. Very little else is known about Malchus.
It was after Jesus was taken captive, delivered before the Jewish counsel, and questioned by Annas and Caiaphas, that Peter remained outside the counsel room and was accused of being a disciple of Jesus, first by a damsel, second by others as they gathered around a fire, and lastly by another servant of the high priest, who was also a kinsman of Malchus (See John 18:15-27). Although the first two accusers of Peter had never seen Peter before, it is possible that this relative of Malchus had witnessed Peter cutting off his ear. If this were true, Peter's denial was assuredly known by this witness to be a lie.
At this point, the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him, took Him before the high priest, and his disciples forsook Him, and fled (Matt. 26:56).