Miracle 34:
Healing of Malchus' Ear

Ear today and Gone tomorrow       

I. Introduction

A. Passage Luke 22:49-51

49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord,  shall we smite with the sword? 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.


Although the other writers mention the event, Luke is the only one who records the miracle. (Matt 26:51; Mark 14:43f; John 18:10)

B. Presentation Summarized:

1.      The Story

a. Peter’s Poor Aim

1.       Total confusion reigned in the Garden of Gethsemane as Judas led a band to arrest Jesus.

2.       The chaos boiled over when Peter drew a sword and swept the air with a stroke that lopped off the ear of Malchus, one of the arresting party (Luke 22:50; John 18:10).

3.       Peter’s impulsive act could have spelled disaster. Jesus and the Twelve were completely outnumbered and ill equipped to defend themselves against a mob that included soldiers from the Roman cohort.

4.       The arresting party might even have been looking for a pretext to use violence against this supposedly dangerous rabbi.

5.       Fortunately, Jesus acted swiftly to regain control of the situation by healing Malchus’s ear and addressing the crowd (Luke 22:51–53).

6.       Another stroke of fortune was probably Peter’s bad aim. It’s interesting that the account details an injury to Malchus’s right ear. Modern readers might assume that Peter would have swung his sword laterally, with the blade parallel to the ground. But a first-century swordsman was more likely to sweep out his sword and come down on the head of an opponent with a vertical, chopping stroke. In battle, the idea was to place a well-aimed blow on the seam of an enemy’s helmet, splitting it open and wounding the head.

7.       Perhaps this was Peter’s intention, but he aimed wide to the left. Perhaps, too, Malchus saw the blow coming and ducked to his left, exposing his right ear.

8.       In any event, Peter caused no mortal injury. But he certainly drew attention to himself.


       b. Who was Malchus ? Will we see him in heaven? 

1.         Malchus (“counselor; ruler”), Malchus happened to be a servant of Caiaphas, the high priest (see Matt. 26:3).

2.         Later, one of Malchus’s relatives recognized Peter warming himself by a fire outside Pilate’s court. “Did I not see you in the garden?” he asked suspiciously, a claim that Peter denied (John 18:26). ¨[1]

3.         And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew [John 18:25–27].[2]

4.         Will we see him in heaven? Probably. How do we know his name is Malchus? 

5.         John tells us 50 years later, which might indicate that he was part of the early church.

6.         This is the only external wound that Jesus heals.

2. Content

a. A quick thought  22:49

1.       Shall we strike with the sword?

2.       The disciples wanted to defend Jesus and themselves. I’m sure they were confused by Jesus’ lack of defense or attempt to escape.

3.       The disciples thought it was time to use that sword. It was not the time to use the sword, however, because Jesus was now on His way to the cross. The sword was for their personal defense after He was gone. Darkness and light met at the cross of Christ.[3]

b. A quick temper  22:50

1.         John 18:10 tells us that Peter is the one who strikes with his sword.  Perhaps the others are asking and Peter is acting. 

2.         Why don’t Matt, Mark and Luke mention Peter?  John writes after the destruction of Jerusalem.  The others wrote before.  Maybe it would have caused harm to Peter.

3.          Jesus had just told Peter that he would deny Him, but here we see Peter standing up for Jesus.  Luke points out that it is just a piece of the right ear.  Perhaps this shows us that by ourselves we can accomplish nothing - except to make matters worse.


c. A quick touch  22:51

1.       Matt records that all those who live by the sword, die by the sword.  If you think that is the way you will be protected, then you are wrong. 

2.       Jesus tells Peter to put away the sword.  It is part of the need of the suffering Messiah.  He had the power to escape but the purpose to stay.


        d. Peter Special Miracles

1.                   The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law was the first of several miracles that Jesus performed especially for Peter.

2.                   On two occasions, He enabled Peter to catch many fish (Luke 5:1–11; John 21:1–8),

3.                   He even helped him catch one fish with a coin in its mouth (Matt. 17:24–27).

4.                   Jesus enabled Peter to walk on the water (Matt. 14:22–33).

5.                   When Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, Jesus healed it (Luke 22:50–53); and

6.                   He delivered Peter from prison and death (Acts 12).

7.                   No wonder Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).[4]


·         The Son of Man must suffer the cross.  He could have escaped, but his purpose was to die. The arrest did not take Jesus by surprise.  It was a part of the plan.  There are several references to OT.


·         Zeal without knowledge can be disastrous.

·         Attention to the Lord’s instruction, keeps from being the Lord’s obstruction.

·         The Kingdom of God is not established by the sword.

[1]Thomas Nelson, Inc., Word in Life Study Bible [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[2]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[3]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[4]Warren W. Wiersbe, With the word Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1991 by Warren W. Wiersbe.