Malchus Right Ear – Love your Enemies


Malchus’ right ear

It is late at night.  A great crowd with lanterns, swords, and clubs seeks out Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, where he had been praying.  The mob seized Jesus.  Peter, the impulsive and brave, drew his sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus.  Malchus was a part of the crowd.

Peter displays courage, ready to take on an armed crowd.  However, Jesus won’t tolerate the violence and tells Peter to stop. 

Jesus is on his way to torture and violent death, but he takes a moment to heal Malchus.  Love your enemies.  Jesus lives his message. 

The God-man who walked on water, calmed storms, and raised the dead undoubtedly had the resources to overcome the crowd.  Instead, Jesus tells Peter to put his sword away because “all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”  Jesus is led away to be crucified.

Violence begets violence.  See Genesis 9:6. 

Jesus will not use violence on humankind to carry out God’s purposes.  He modeled what he taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

As William Barclay points out, the crowd and those who did violence to Jesus would see their temple destroyed by the Romans within 40 years.  Jesus, on the other hand, is enthroned in the hearts of men and women for eternity.

Love triumphs over hate.

The human heart is the battlefield.  Cutting off ears is a bad response to violence.  It makes folks deaf, unable to hear Jesus’ words so that he can change their hearts.

Objections

Was Jesus violent when he used a whip to cleanse the temple?

There is righteous indignation present in Jesus during this event.  People are conducting commerce in God’s Holy Place.  This is outrageous.  People are trying to worship God.  The folks doing business knew what they were doing was wrong.  They opted for profit over respect for God’s holiness.

There is no evidence of Jesus doing violence to men or women during this incident.  Jesus used a small whip made of rope or twisted rushes.  He would have used the whip to move the oxen and the sheep out of the temple.  Meat was an expensive commodity.  The merchants would have exited the temple to catch up with their costly inventory without much prodding.

Symbols

Ear.  Recall from the last blog, the ear is generally a Christian symbol related to the betrayal of Christ.

Heart.  Where is the heart in the image?  Note that the combination of the ear and its shadow form a heart.  In Christian symbolism, the heart is the source of understanding and love.  God looks at our hearts.

As Christ says, he who has ears to hear, let him hear.  We listen to Christ so that our hearts may become more like his.

Love your enemies.  Often, the most practical thing to do is pray for them.

Recommended FilmGandhi.  A man uses non-violence to successfully lead the Indian revolt for independence from British rule.

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