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Malchus’s Ear

November 3, 2013

This past Friday was to have been the third session of Shakespeare at Pendleton. I got there on time. However, I’m not exactly sure of all of the details, but it seems that Pendleton was in some kind of administrative lockdown. In any case, there was “no inmate movement” that morning. I’ve already concluded that such days would occur, so though it is a bit of a bother to drive that distance at 7 on a Friday morning, the drive back gave me time to pray for the group, and each of the men involved. This gave me a chance to review mentally who the participants of the first two weeks have been.


Suppose a crime for a few moments: a police officer comes to arrest a friend of yours, and you take a machete take a swing at the officer’s head. You would very likely be shot, but if you survived the attempt, you would be looking at a long prison sentence.

So, what is happening here?

John 18: 10-11: 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Matthew 26: 50-56: 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do. Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Luke 22: 49-52: 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

Leave it to John to rat Peter out. And Luke gives the only version that says that Jesus heals Malchus’s ear.

Ask yourself a question: When Peter swung at Malchus’s head, what was he intending to do? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say what is obvious: Peter was intending to kill Malchus. Unless a person reaches over, grabs another person’s ear, and starts cutting, a sword swing which catches an ear is aimed at the head. Peter has shown his incompetence with the sword, not a moderation of his intention.

Shakespeare has several characters who kill with the thought that they are doing the right thing, Brutus in Julius Caesar especially, and several of the underlings in Richard III as well. Something to think about.

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