By David Faust
The Malchus miracle is one of my favorite wonders recorded in the Bible. Remember Malchus? He was the servant of the high priest who got his right ear chopped off in the Garden of Gethsemane by Simon Peter (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10). It was a dark and chaotic moment, but Jesus remained calmly in charge. Immediately and without fanfare, he put the awkwardly amputated ear back onto Malchus’s head.
The Lord often has to fix things his followers mess up. He repaired the damage after Peter tried to take matters into his own hands.
Think how unsettling this miracle must have been to those who witnessed it. Jesus healed one of the very men who came to arrest him. How did Jesus’ captors feel when they watched him reattach their companion’s severed ear? How do you handcuff a man after his hands performed successful surgery without the benefit of a scalpel or suture?
Did the procedure leave a scar? Years later did Malchus’s grandchildren sit on his lap and ask him to recount the story? “Grandpa, tell us again about the night when you were cut by a sword and Jesus healed your ear.”
If I lost one of my ears, I would want Jesus to put it back as soon as possible. When it comes to listening, I need all the help I can get. An old adage says, “God gave us one mouth and two ears because we should listen twice as much as we speak.” An even better adage says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20, NIV 1984).
The apostle Paul wrote, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14). We must hear about Jesus to believe in him; we must believe in order to “call on” him.
The process is incomplete unless someone communicates the message so others can hear it. “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (v. 15). What do beautiful feet have to do with preaching the gospel? Feet and mouths must work together. Our mouths won’t lead people to Christ unless our feet take us where others need him.
A Double-Edged Sword
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (v. 17). For faith to grow, we must listen to Jesus with both ears. Listen with only one ear, and you will miss something important. The freedom-lover hears him say only, “Neither do I condemn you.” The legalist hears him say only, “Go and sin no more.” The fact is, he said both.
The sword of the Spirit is double-edged. We need to hear—and preach—both sides of the blade. Jesus offers forgiveness and grace, but he also challenges us to commitment and self-denial. He says, “Come to me and I will give you rest,” and he says, “Find your life by losing it.” The call to salvation includes a call to surrender.
Do we hear everything Jesus has to say—or only the parts we like? If we struggle to comprehend his voice, he can repair our broken ears. Just ask Malchus.
1. Are you a good listener to others? to God?
2. What did Jesus mean when he said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” (Matthew 13:43)?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 23, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Deuteronomy 4, 5