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Miracles of Jesus: Healing a Servant's Ear in the Garden of Gethsemane

At Jesus Christ's Arrest, A Disciple Cuts Off a Man's Ear But Jesus Heals It

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Garden of Gethsemane Jesus arrested disciples ear healing miracle

The painting "The Ear of Malchus" (circa 1890s) by James Tissot

Public domain

When it came time for Jesus Christ to be betrayed and arrested, the Bible says, his disciple Judas betrayed him with a kiss and set in motion the drama of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus' other disciples were upset at the sight of Roman soldiers and Jewish religious leaders who had gathered there, ready to take Jesus away. So, wielding a sword, one of them (Peter) cut off an ear of a man standing nearby: Malchus, the servant of the Jewish high priest.

But Jesus rebuked the violence and miraculously healed the servant's ear, the Bible says in the story recorded in Luke 22:47-53:

A Kiss and a Cut

The story begins in verses 47 through 50: "While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?'"

When Jesus' 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 right ear.

Judas (one of Jesus' 12 disciples) had arranged to lead some religious leaders to Jesus for 30 silver coins and confirm his identity for them by greeting him with a kiss (which was a common Middle Eastern greeting between friends) so they could arrest him. Judas' greed for money led to him betraying Jesus and twisting a sign of love into a sign of evil. Later, the Bible records, Judas regretted his decision, returned the money to the religious leaders, and committed suicide.

Peter, the disciple who cut off Malchus' ear, had a history of headstrong behavior. He loved Jesus deeply, the Bible says, but he sometimes let his intense emotions get in the way of his better judgment -- as he does here.

Healing, Not Violence

The story continues in verses 51 through 53: "But Jesus answered, 'No more of this!' And he touched the man's ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, 'Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour -- when darkness reigns.'"

This healing was the last miracle that Jesus performed before going to the cross to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world, the Bible says. In this threatening situation, Jesus could have chosen to perform a miracle for his own benefit, to avoid his impending arrest. But he chose instead to perform a miracle to help someone else, which is the same purpose of all of his prior miracles.

The Bible says that God the Father planned Jesus' arrest and subsequent death and resurrection long before they happened, at the appointed time in history on Earth. So here, Jesus isn't concerned about trying to save himself. In fact, his statement that this is the "hour when darkness reigns" alludes to God's plan to allow evil spiritual forces to act, so that the world's sin would all be on Jesus at the cross, the Bible says. But while Jesus isn't concerned about helping himself, he is concerned about Malchus keeping his ear, and also about rebuking Peter's violence.

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