Luke 22:49-51 (New American Standard Bible)
When those who were around him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this!” And Jesus touched his ear and healed him.
Betrayed by one of his closest friends. Attacked in a garden that had been a place of refuge and prayer for him. Falsely accused, treated unjustly as a criminal. Torn from the presence of his followers.
It would be very understandable for Jesus to be angry and fight back. After all, this is the Son of God we’re talking about, with the ability to control nature’s forces and to call upon armies of angels to come to his defense.
But he does not.
It is Jesus’ disciples who resist the arrest. In John’s telling of this encounter, it’s the impetuous Simon Peter who leaps to Jesus’ defense, cutting off the slave’s ear. In that gospel, the slave’s name is also recorded: Malchus. The temple guard has come with swords and clubs — they were obviously expecting a fight. This Jesus, they had undoubtedly been told, was the dangerous leader of a rebellion against the government. How amazed they must be when Jesus yells out: “Stop! No more of this!” Shockingly, they hear Jesus order his followers to stand down, and to allow him to be taken away.
But… how much more amazed they would have to be when that same man reaches out tenderly to Malchus the slave, touches his damaged ear, and heals it.
“What kind of man is this?” some of them must have wondered. “What kind of man responds to violence with such love and grace?”
When you or someone you love is threatened, what is your first, gut response?
Much like Peter’s, I’m afraid.