The moon was bright over the olive grove where Jesus prayed. Earlier that evening they had left Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley, and climbed the slope to Gethsemane, which means “olive press.” Here, under the branches of the fruitful trees, was a quiet place to relax which He and His disciples had visited many times (Luke 22:39).
The mood was somber. Earlier that evening, while still in the upper room, Jesus had declared, “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31). They wondered what He meant.
At the edge of the orchard, Jesus had turned to look at His eleven friends. There should have been twelve, but Judas had mysteriously stomped out after Jesus said, “What you’re doing, do quickly” (John 13:27). To eight of His disciples, Jesus said, “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Matthew 26:36). They collapsed, weary from the long day, and watched as Peter, James, John, and Jesus walked into the shadows.
Toward the center of Gethsemane, Jesus stopped again, an unusual strain written on His face. Motioning to the base of an ancient tree, He sighed, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me” (Matthew 26:37-38). Soon, the three men closest to Jesus, “exhausted from their grief” (Luke 22:45), slipped off into fitful sleep.
A “stone’s throw” away, Jesus “knelt down, and began to pray, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:41-44).
With all of Heaven standing at attention, Jesus poured His heart out before the Father. “Not my will, but yours!” Jesus knew the plan, orchestrated before time began, included a “slaughtered lamb” (Revelation 13:8). He had repeatedly taught His followers that “Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and he will be mocked, insulted, spit on; and after they flog him, they will kill him, and he will rise on the third day” (Luke 18:31–33). Still, as He communed with His Father, He prayed, “Not my will, but yours!”
After hours of prayer and preparation, Jesus announced, “ ‘Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.’ While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob with swords and clubs was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people”(Matthew 26:46-47). That’s when the miracle occurred. In the tumult, Peter drew his sword and took a mighty swipe, missing his intended target and cutting off the right ear of Malchus, one of the thugs in the rioting throng (John 18:10). “But Jesus responded, ‘No more of this!’ And touching his ear, he healed him” (Luke 22:51).
Better than the best plastic surgeon, Jesus reattached the severed ear. Jesus showed mercy to the merciless. He demonstrated His love, even for one who seethed with contemptuous hatred.
That leaves me to wonder... Why did John remember the name Malchus? Had Jesus’ compassion touched the heart of the “high priest’s servant” (Matthew 26:51) and had Malchus become a follower of Christ? Had John, who likely wrote his Gospel decades later, remembered worshipping with his new brother, Malchus? And I wonder, did the sword-wielding Peter sneak a peek at his right ear, remembering the Master’s miracle?