When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 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.
— Luke 22:49-51
Have you ever had a time when it nearly broke your heart to see what a mess a friend had made of his life? Because you loved your friend so much, you were willing to do anything necessary to assist him in getting his life back in order again. Although you knew it would be difficult, you were nonetheless willing to step into his disorder, chaos, and confusion to help him because you knew he’d never get out of his mess by himself.
Let’s see what Jesus did for Peter that night in the Garden of Gethsemane after Peter chopped off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. There is something we can learn from the example Jesus gave us that night.
What Peter did to Malchus was not only scandalous — it was against the law and therefore punishable. Peter’s action was criminal! Peter’s wrongdoing was sufficient to ruin his entire life, since he could have been sentenced for physically injuring a fellow citizen. And this wasn’t just any citizen. As the servant of the high priest, Malchus was an extremely well-known man in the city of Jerusalem. Peter certainly would have been imprisoned for injuring a person of such stature.
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Jesus had just been sweating blood from the intense spiritual battle He fought in prayer in the Garden. Then He had received the kiss of betrayal from a friend and was therefore facing the prospect of the Cross and three days in the grave. Now a new problem had been thrust upon Him. Because of Peter’s impetuous, unauthorized behavior, Jesus had to put everything on hold for a moment so He could step forward and fix the mess Peter had created!
As blood poured from the side of Malchus’ head and dripped from the blade Peter held in his hand, Jesus asked the soldiers, “…Suffer ye thus far…” (Luke 22:51). This was the equivalent of saying, “Let Me just do one more thing before you take Me!”
Then Jesus reached out to Malchus and “…touched his ear, and healed him.” Rather than allow Himself to be taken away while Peter was still subject to arrest, imprisonment, and possible execution, Jesus stopped the entire process to fix the mess Peter made that night.
The Bible says that Jesus “touched” the servant. The Greek word for “touch” is aptomai, a word that means to firmly grasp or to hold tightly. This is very important, for it lets us know that Jesus didn’t just lightly touch Malchus; He firmly grabbed the servant’s head and held him tightly.
This is important because it tells us the tenacity with which Jesus prayed! When He laid His hands on people, they knew that hands had been laid on them!
The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Jesus touched the stump that remained from the severed ear and grew a new ear or grabbed the old ear from the ground and miraculously set it back in its place. Regardless of how the miracle occurred, however, the word aptomai (“touched”) lets us know that Jesus was aggressive in the way He touched the man.
As a result of Jesus’ touch, Malchus was completely “healed” (v. 51). The word “healed” is the Greek word iaomai, which means to cure, to restore, or to heal. Jesus completely restored Malchus’ ear before the soldiers bound Him and led Him out of the Garden.
That night in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ very words knocked 300 to 600 soldiers off their feet and flat on their backs. He didn’t need Peter’s help. He didn’t request Peter’s intervention. Nevertheless, Peter suddenly jumped in the middle of God’s business and tried to create a revolt. Yet rather than walk off and leave Peter in the mess he had made by his own doings, Jesus stopped everything that was happening and intervened on his behalf. Jesus took the time to heal Malchus’ ear for two primary reasons: 1) because He is a Healer and 2) because He didn’t want Peter to be arrested for his impulsive actions.
The next time you think you are too busy or too important to get involved in a friend’s problem, remember this example that Jesus gave us on the night of His arrest. That night Jesus had a lot on His mind, but He still stopped everything to help a friend. He could have said, “Peter, you’ve made this mess by yourself; now you can fix it by yourself.” But it was clear that Peter would never get out of this trouble without assistance, so Jesus stepped in to help Peter get things back in order again.
When you are tempted to be judgmental about other people’s self-imposed problems, it would be good for you to remember the many times God’s mercy has intervened to save you from messy situations that you created yourself. Even though you deserved to get in trouble, God loved you enough to come right alongside you and help you pull things together so you could get out of that mess. Now whenever you see others in trouble, you have the opportunity to be an extension of God’s mercy to them.
Put everything on hold for a few minutes so you can reach out to a friend in trouble; then do whatever you can to help restore the situation. If this was important enough for Jesus to do, then you have time to do it too! Make it a priority today to be a faithful friend to the end, just as Jesus was to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I am so thankful for the many times You have stepped into my life to clean up the messes I’ve created by myself. Had I been more patient and waited on You, I could have avoided the problems that stole my time, my thoughts, my energies, and my money. Forgive me for being impetuous, and help me learn to wait on You. When I see others make the same mistakes I’ve made, help me remember the times You have helped me so I can respond with a heart filled with compassion and not with judgment, reaching out to help them recover from the mistakes they have made!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am merciful and compassionate to people who have messed up their lives. Their problems are my opportunities to allow God to use me in their lives by helping them recover from their mistakes. God loves these people so much that He wants to send me alongside them to assist, teach, and do whatever I can to help them get back on their feet again. I have been so touched by God’s mercy myself that judgment and condemnation cannot operate inside me! Rather than lecture people about their mistakes so they feel even worse about what they have done, I am God’s mercy extended to support them in their time of trouble!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you recollect a time in your life when you were so impatient with what was happening in your life that you took matters in your own hands to speed them up a bit — only to find out that you made things much worse?
2. Can you think of other people who need God to supernaturally intervene to fix the messes they have made? Have you asked God if He wants to use you to help them find a way out of this difficult time they are facing right now?
3. When you consider Jesus’ attitude toward those who are undeserving, how does it affect your attitude toward others who find themselves in some kind of self-made trouble?