He wasn't Zorro, but...

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The charged atmosphere of the scene in the garden as Judas and the religious authorities arrived to arrest Jesus was simply too much for Peter. He had promised to defend his Master to the death (John 13:37) and defend Him he would.

We don’t know when or why Peter had picked up the sword but now he put it to good use.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus)” (John 18:10.

Then his world fell apart. The Lord commanded Peter to put the sword away (18:11).

If he couldn’t defend Jesus the only way he knew how, then what was the use? Was it this moment that led to three others that would fulfill Jesus’ warning to Peter that before the night was out, his loyal servant would deny he even knew his Master?

We can’t point the finger at Peter unless we point it back at ourselves. How often, when our plans to do something for the Lord fail, do we give up. Whether we stepped outside of God’s will or did something as He commanded but still failed, we are tempted to throw in the towel, or toss the sword, as Peter did.

There were lessons for Peter to learn from this experience, but what about Malchus? This man disappears off the pages of Biblical history. We know from the account in Luke 22:47-53 that Jesus healed the man’s ear. But that's all we know.

Jesus knew that Peter had that sword. He didn’t stop His disciple from carrying it. Jesus knew that Peter would take that sword and attack Malchus. He didn’t prevent that attack. Perhaps Peter needed to learn that God’s kingdom is not won by the sword—something others have never learned. Peter needed to learn that just because Plan A doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean it’s quitting time. He needed to learn the overwhelming joy of confession, forgiveness and restoration.

But what did Malchus need to learn? We don’t know. But the sword play and its aftermath was not just a lesson for Peter. It was an opportunity for Malchus. As Jesus reached over to touch his ear and make him whole again, this servant of the High Priest found himself at a crossroads. What would he do about this man who could drive his enemies to their knees with a single phrase (18:6), who could put an ear back on that seconds before had been lying, bloodied, in the dust?

We never know how our journeys, the successes and the failures, are going to impact someone else, how our journeys meet their journeys and result in eternal consequences. That is one good reason why we should never believe that the stages of the journey are wasted, lived in vain. God wastes nothing—not even our failures.

I don’t know what happened to Malchus. But I choose to believe that he didn’t walk away from the garden the same man as he was when he walked into the garden.  At the very least he had an opportunity at a personal encounter with God that could change the course of his journey.

Peter may have had one purpose for that sword, but the Lord had another, a greater purpose for it.


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