Two Kings

By Tom Ellsworth

Malchus was not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill slave; he was the trusted servant of the influential high priest. As the armed band of soldiers approached Gethsemane, Malchus undoubtedly was at the forefront, leading with all the clout of Annas and Caiaphas. He would help arrest the notorious rabbi, Jesus, or die trying. This man was no innocent bystander; he was eager to protect the rule and authority of his master.

As Judas slithered up to Jesus and branded him with a kiss, the fireworks began. In an act of noble loyalty, Peter drew his stubby sword and lunged toward the high priest’s servant. Peter swung. Malchus ducked. An ear fell.

Soldiers tensed. Twelve legions of armed angels hovered, waiting for the call to battle. Instead, Jesus reached out to the stunned and bleeding Malchus and instantly restored his ear.

Little things are often overlooked. It was merely an ear. And only the good doctor Luke bothered to record this miracle. Incredibly, the name Malchus means “king.” There in the darkness of an olive grove, two kings met—one was a servant who acted like an arrogant king; one was the humble King who acted like a servant. Ironic, isn’t it? This was the last miracle before Jesus’ death and it, like a royal crown, was awarded to the imposter.

I have often wondered what happened to Malchus. Did he linger in the garden to contemplate the grace of God? Did that physical touch change his spiritual outcome? How often did he scratch his ear and think of Jesus? Could it be the apostle John recorded Malchus’s name in his Gospel because the servant became a convert to Christianity? After all, who could be the recipient of such a miracle and ever be the same again?

Like Malchus, I am no innocent bystander. My sin threatens to enslave me; my ego cries out to be king; my will rebels against the goodness of God. It is a constant battle. Can you relate?

Something wonderful, however, happens when I come to the Lord’s table. As I eat the bread and drink the cup, my mind is transported to a moment in time where I am reminded that Jesus reserved his ultimate miracle for me, the imposter. I linger over the elements and contemplate the grace of God. I rejoice that his physical death changed my spiritual outcome forever. I am challenged to live faithfully for the one true King.

I hope your experience holds the same wonder. After all, who could be the recipient of such a miracle and ever be the same again?


Tom Ellsworth serves as senior minister with Sherwood Oaks Christian Church in Bloomington, Indiana. 

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  1. Wilton Gray
    April 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Wonderfully refreshing to be reminded of the mighty power of our Lord. In a very dire moment our Saviour showed his profound love for even his haters and detracters.

  2. Bill Mathis
    September 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    This is the first time that I have seen Malchus used in a meditation. It probably has been many times but I find this meditation well thought out and good.

  3. Jeff Oden
    February 28, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Great communion meditation with details and perspectives most of us have never thought through completely. It is great when new thoughts like this one can be shared at the most important time of our week. Thank you!

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