We are continuing to look at the supernatural ministry of Jesus while He walked this earth. Today we look at the healing of the servant of the High Priest, and the supernatural overcoming of a detachment of Roman soldiers:
Judas had betrayed Jesus to the priests and religious elite of Jerusalem. He told them that Jesus would be in the Garden of Gethsemane. They sent a “detachment” of soldiers (John 18:3). The Greek word speira is used of the subgroup of Roman soldiers. This fighting force consisted of 450 men. This was in addition to those sent from the Chief Priests and Pharisees. Some scholars have estimated that there may have been as many as six hundred soldiers and men sent to arrest Jesus.
Why so many? It was likely they were expecting a fight and that there might be more of Christ’s disciples in the garden with Him. They brought lanterns because, perhaps, they were expecting Jesus to hide. The Lord didn’t wait for them to come looking for Him, He took the initiative; He went out of the garden to them (John 18:4). He was in control of the whole situation. The apostle John gives us a bit more information as to what happened. Jesus asked them, “Who is it you want?” 5“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:4-6).
Roman soldiers were not known to be fearful about anything, and they certainly were not known to fall on the ground easily. They were ready for anything as they approached the garden. Imagine the scene. When they said they were looking for Jesus, the Lord replied uttering the divine name in Greek, the name of God, “I AM” (egō eimi). Some of you have the words, I am he in the text, but the word “He” is absent from the original Greek and added by the translators to make the statement easier to understand in English. Again and again in the Gospels, we have seen Jesus adding the name of God to different aspects of His character. I am the Gate; I am the Good Shepherd, I am the Light of the World, I am the Way, etc. When He said those words, this was a display of raw spiritual power before these soldiers. Jesus let the soldiers know that He was willingly giving Himself into their hands. What a picture it must have been, hundreds of men terrified of one Man and His eleven disciples, and only one of them was using a sword in defense.
In his usual rash behavior, Peter slashed at the high priest’s servant named Malchus with his sword, severing the man’s ear. Peter was risking a fight at this point, but the Lord intervened and gently reminded His disciples to put up the sword, that there was a cup of suffering He had to drink to put away sin for all men. Why didn’t the 450-600 men attack Peter and the disciples? It seems that the presence of the Lord unsettled the soldiers. Luke tells us that Jesus put His hand to Malchus’ ear, and it miraculously sprouted another ear— “he touched the man's ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51). Notice that the healing was instantaneous. This was a creative miracle right at the point of greatest tension. There was no hunting around for the ear and for it to be bandaged up. I wonder if Malchus found the ear that had been cut off after the Lord was taken away. Even at the most stressful point of His life, Jesus took the time to heal the servant of His enemies. How wonderful He is! Keith Thomas
This study is taken from the more complete study found in the All Studies box on the Homepage. Click the Gospel of Luke, then study 60, Luke 22:39-53, Jesus at Gethsemane.