Why did Peter merely cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The account is documented four times in the Holy Bible. We read these passages now:

  • Matthew 26:51-54: And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”
  • Mark 14:47-49: And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.”
  • Luke 22:50-53: And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
  • John 18:10-11: Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

The Apostle Judas Iscariot, having been shown as a traitor, leads a mob of unbelievers to arrest the Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. A panic ensues and a disciple lashes out with a sword and amputates an ear of the high priest’s servant. Of course, John alone reveals the name of the sword wielder—the Apostle Peter—and his unfortunate victim—Malchus. Luke and John pinpoint the right ear. Is it not strange Peter did nothing more than amputate the man’s ear? Why was he aiming for the ear? Obviously, that would result in a non-fatal blow. A defensive move would have been more serious.

Remember, the servant’s ear would have been sliced off in only one of two ways. Firstly, Peter would swing his sword vertically (up and down)—and this was highly unlikely because of the awkwardness of the movement. Secondly, he would swing his sword horizontally (side to side). The latter scenario seems most plausible. Apparently, Peter sought to behead the servant, so he was aiming for the servant’s neck, but the servant ducked, and with the servant’s head tilted to the left side and lowered, Peter’s sword grazed the right side of the servant’s head (thus severing the ear) instead of cutting into his neck and decapitating him! Yes, Peter aimed to kill!

Peter wrongly supposed the Lord was powerless to prevent His arrest. Christ promptly corrected His sincere but rash chief Apostle, admonishing him to put away his sword and let Bible prophecy come to pass as Father God intended. To say this was to Peter’s shock is an understatement. Christ would die on Calvary’s cross as the prophets foretold. If Jesus really wanted to avoid this, He did not need Peter’s little sword. Father God could send an angelic army capable of wiping out all lifeforms on Earth! Alas, the Lord Jesus did not call down those heavenly troops—and Earth was spared (for the time being, anyway). He went on ahead with submitting to that apprehension and ultimate crucifixion. As one final miracle of the Gospel of the Kingdom—and only (medical) Doctor Luke reports it—the Lord Jesus Christ miraculously reattaches the servant’s ear as if nothing happened!

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Also see:
» How many angels will be with Jesus Christ when He returns?
» Did Judas Iscariot have to betray Christ?
» Did Peter use obscenities when denying Christ?