Apr 15, 2019 • Written by Katie Long
Turning Misdeeds Into Miracles
I remember Holy Week as a child: reading the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection, attending Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, and discussing the stories as a class. If you asked me what I remember most about those studies as a child, I would love to be able to say that I was humbled by Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, or angered by Judas’s betrayal, or horrified that the crowds chose to have a violent criminal released to the public rather than Jesus.
But in all honesty…the part that most fascinated me was Peter cutting off Malchus’ ear in his attempt to defend Jesus. I mean, really…when you are eight years old, how great is that?!
Not only was I fascinated by the unexpected and bizarre moment in the story of Jesus’ arrest, but I also wondered at the seeming randomness of the incident. It didn't make sense to me: things seemed to be moving along in an orderly progression towards Jesus’ crucifixion, but right in the middle, there’s this unexpected moment where Peter cuts off a servant’s ear. Somehow, though, it is significant enough that it is recorded in all four Gospel accounts.
And really…cutting off a servant’s ear? Oh Peter, how I would giggle at you each year. What a ridiculous thing to do – thinking that you in your humanity could run ahead and rescue a Savior who was more than capable of rescuing Himself.
As an adult, it’s not so funny, because I am Peter.
I am the one running ahead of Jesus, believing that I have a better plan than Him. I am the one believing that He needs my help to accomplish His plans. All I have to do is work harder, strive a little longer, spend a little more time refining my plan.
I am Peter. I am the one making bold declarations of my allegiance to Him, and then turning around and behaving as if I didn’t know Him. I have the best of intentions to live a life that glorifies God, but I continually make mistakes and end up looking like a fool.
Do you know what I love most about this story? After Peter cut off Malchus’ ear, Jesus heals it (Luke 22:51). It is a small detail, but there are several important life applications that we can take from this one, seemingly insignificant moment:
1) He took Peter’s misdeed and turned it into a miracle. Peter was trying to do a good thing – rescue his Savior and friend – and it went very, very wrong. How often do we do that? Our hearts may be in the right place, but we run ahead of Jesus, neglect to seek His will, and make a bigger mess of things. But Jesus, in His loving kindness and mercy, takes those misdeeds and can turn them into miracles that continue to point others to Him.
2) Jesus was still all about restoration and loving others. In the midst of that chaotic evening, Jesus takes a moment to heal the soldier...a man who was technically His enemy. Despite it being one of the darkest moments of His time on earth, He was still others-focused, showing love and mercy to the undeserving. How many of us would react that way if we were in that situation? How often we focus on our own grief and pain, and lose sight of the fact that we can still choose to be a blessing to others, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
3) Jesus kept the end in sight. Jesus maintained His focus throughout that night and the torturous days to follow. He didn’t allow Peter’s folly to sidetrack Him; rather, He continued purposefully toward completing His Father’s will – death on a cross, to redeem the sins of mankind. We, too, can live with the end in sight, keeping our eyes fixed on eternity with Jesus, and not be swayed by the things of this world.
We don’t know what happened to Malchus – the Bible doesn’t mention him again. Was he changed by the experience? Did he come to know Jesus in that moment? We won’t know until heaven, but in the meantime, I’m thankful for his little episode in the Bible with Peter. I’m thankful for the reminder that we serve a God who turns misdeeds into miracles, who loves others regardless of time and circumstance, and who is continually weaving together His story and His purposeful, merciful redemption of mankind.