We are continuing to look at the supernatural ministry of Jesus while He walked this earth. Today we think about the healing of the servant of the High Priest and the supernatural overcoming of a detachment of Roman soldiers:
In his betrayal of Jesus, Judas told Jerusalem's priests and religious elite that Jesus could be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. A “detachment” of soldiers was sent (John 18:3). The Greek word speira describes the subgroup of Roman soldiers. This fighting force consisted of 450 men, in addition to those sent from the Chief Priests and Pharisees. Various estimates say that six hundred soldiers were sent to arrest Jesus.
Why so many? They were likely expecting a fight and that more of Christ's disciples might be in the garden with Him. The soldiers brought lanterns, perhaps because they thought that Jesus would hide. The Lord didn't wait for them to come looking for Him; He took the initiative, going out of the garden to meet them (John 18:4). Christ was in control of the 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 or 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 see 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, “I AM,” there was a display of spiritual power that made the hundreds of soldiers all fall to the ground. Jesus let them 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 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 and power 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. A creative miracle took place right at the point of greatest tension. There was no hunting around for the ear so that it could be bandaged. I wonder if Malchus found the cut-off ear 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