Have you ever experienced someone fixing a problem that you created? That is what Jesus did for one of his disciples when the disciple cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant at Jesus’ arrest.
“When his followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:49-51)
John’s gospel identifies Peter as the one who struck with his sword, and Malchus as the name of the high priest’s servant.
It was God’s will for Jesus to be arrested and crucified, which was necessary for the atonement of our sins and Jesus’ subsequent resurrection to demonstrate God’s victory and authority over evil. Peter’s actions, though well intentioned, were mistakenly getting in the way of God’s will for Jesus and his plan for the salvation of all of mankind.
Jesus reverses Peter’s mistake with a miracle in touching Malcus’ ear and totally restoring it. This is a miracle that doesn’t get a lot of commentary, but think of its impact on Peter and Malchus. For Peter, Jesus is not only reprimanding him for resorting to violence, but miraculously healing the enemy. It may have kept Peter from being arrested for attacking the high priest’s servant.
Imagine if you are Malchus. Your task is to arrest Jesus whom you have been told is an enemy of the Jewish religion and Israel. One of Jesus’ followers attacks you with a sword and cuts off your ear. Then this Jesus, your supposed enemy, reaches out, touches your ear, and heals it. One moment it is hanging there, bleeding, about to fall off, and the next moment it is completely restored. One moment your adversaries are acting as you would expect them to act, and the next moment, Jesus, the object of your arrest, is reaching out not to do you harm, but to undo the harm done by one of his followers.
How can Malchus not be affected? Since John mentions him by name in his gospel, it is likely that he later became a follower of Jesus and familiar to John.
We all make mistakes, and sometimes a friend, spouse or colleague is able to step in and take action to minimize the consequences. A work colleague spots a mistake we have made in a report and corrects it before it gets submitted to the boss; or a friend saves us the embarrassment of not remembering the name of an acquaintance in a social situation.
When we make mistakes, we are fortunate that we can go to Jesus and ask for his help to remedy the mistake. If our mistake involves a sin, we can ask him to forgive us. If our mistake has offended someone, we can ask him for the grace to seek reconciliation, and to prepare the heart of the person with whom we need to be reconciled.
During this Holy Week, ask Jesus to help you fix a mistake you may have made with someone.