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THE EAR OF MALCHUS RESTORED.
LUKE XXII. 50, 51.
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and
cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
A STRIKING consistency is ever observable in the character and in the works of our blessed Lord. The former indeed is continually established and illustrated by the latter. This must be evident to every one who has seriously directed his attention to our Saviour's history; and in no part of that history more remarkably than in that which records the injurious treatment of which he was so frequently the subject. Under all the provocations which he experienced, the insults which were offered him, and the persecutions with which he was assailed, he exhibited a meekness and dignity worthy of himself; and on some of these occasions he at the same time manifested both his power and his mercy in the wonders which he performed.
The case which we are now about to consider is particularly interesting, both on account of the circumstances under which it occurred, and because the individual who was the object of our Lord's gracious interposition was among the retinue, and engaged in the service, of those who were endeavouring to compass his destruction. He had already been betrayed into the hands of wicked men by the apostate Judas. Those who had been deputed by the chief priests and elders of the people, had laid hold upon him, and were preparing to lead him away to the high priest. At this crisis, the zeal and indignation of one of his own followers was excited and raised to such a pitch, that he wielded the sword in his Master's cause, and inflicted an injury on the individual to whom we have alluded, which none but his Master could effectually repair. Jesus, however, without rescuing himself, as he might have done, from the perilous situation in which he was placed, exercised at once his power and his mercy in behalf of the sufferer who appeared in the train of his adversaries, by repairing the injury which that sufferer had sustained from his own overzealous disciple. Let us then proceed to notice more particularly, in the first place, the INFLICTION of the injury ; secondly, its repARATION; and, thirdly, the INSTRUCTION which the subject suggests.
I. In the first place, let us notice the INFLICTION
of the injury.
On this point St. John is more explicit than any other of the Evangelists. He alone distinctly informs us who were the parties immediately concerned in this affair. St. Luke tells us, in the text, that “one of them,” that is, one of the disciples of Jesus, or, according to the antecedent expression in the foregoing verse, of those " which were about him," “smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.”
The accounts of the other Evangelists, St. Matthew and St. Mark, are equally general and indefinite. From that of St. John, we learn that it was Peter who inflicted the injury, and that the name of the person who sustained it was Malchus. The mention of Peter's name was probably avoided by the other Evangelists, lest such mention should expose that disciple to some special persecution, inasmuch as they wrote their narratives while he was yet living. That precaution was not necessary in the case of St. John, whose Gospel was written at a period long subsequent to the martyrdom of his brother Apostle. Doubtless there existed some adequate reason also, why the name of Malchus should not appear in any other narrative than that of St. John. What that reason was we do not know; to us it is a question of no importance; nor have we, perhaps, as in the other instance, sufficient grounds on which to build a probable conjecture as to its solution.
We cannot, however, be surprised, when we learn who the person was that inflicted the injury which is here recorded. The act, as connected with the circumstances under which it was committed, was characteristic of the man. The zeal of Peter not unfrequently outran his discretion. In the present instance, that zeal was peculiarly rash and precipitate. The conduct to which it instigated this disciple, was not only singularly inconsiderate, as it exposed him to the fury of a multitude of armed men, but in another respect extremely perilous, inasmuch as the object of his assault was a servant of the high priest, whose power and influence must have been very considerable, and whose opposition to our Lord and his followers must have been inveterate. The attachment of Peter to his Divine Master is undoubtedly to be approved ; but the mode in which he manifested that attachment on this occasion was inconsistent with the dictates of wisdom, with the special instructions which he had repeatedly received, and with the excellent example which was even then before him. Had not our Lord seasonably and graciously interposed, this disciple would probably at this time have fallen a victim to his inconsiderate precipitation.
While, my brethren, our attention is directed to this instance of Peter's rashness, let us reflect that there have probably been many occasions, on which our own conduct has been so thoughtless and precipitate, that it might have been justly affirmed concerning us, that we knew not what we did. On many occasions, perhaps, we have been indebted to the merciful interposition of Almighty God for deliverance from dangers, ghostly or bodily, to which our own inconsiderate folly had been the special means of exposing
Let us, at least, look up to Him for the grace of his Holy Spirit to preserve us continually from evil, and earnestly seek from Him that wisdom which is profitable to direct in every season of emergency
The injury inflicted on Malchus was severe and painful, though we have reason to believe that it did not extend so far as the intention of the assailing disciple of our Lord. It is not, perhaps, too much to suppose that the design of Peter was to have struck a fatal blow. In this it was wisely and mercifully appointed that he should not succeed. The ear of Malchus, however, was so completely severed, that its restoration by ordinary means must have been either altogether impossible, or at least the result of a tedious process. Those who were immediately around him would in all probability observe the condition in which he was ; though the general hurry and confusion of the scene, and the rapid succession of subsequent events, might cause the impression to be more easily erased than it would otherwise have been from their minds. The mention of the sufferer's name by St John, would enable those who at the time when his narrative appeared, might doubt the accuracy of his statement, to ascertain its truth, by an appeal either to the individual himself, if he were then living, or to his surviving relatives, if, as it is probable, his own decease had taken place when St. John's Gospel was published to the world. In our minds, convinced as I trust we are on satisfactory evidence of the genuineness and authenticity of all the Gospels, no doubt can reasonably exist respecting a fact which is distinctly recorded by all the Evangelists, though one only has mentioned the