NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, April 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Brian Basham. Janie B. Cheaney now on the last person to feel Jesus’s healing touch here on earth.
JANIE B. CHEANEY COMMENTATOR: Nobody knew what was happening. It was so noisy and confusing that the criminal, whom the guards would recognize by day, had to be identified—with a kiss, of all things. Flickering shards of torchlight revealed open mouths, eyes narrowed in rage or wide in shock. Resin sputtered, iron clashed, fist met flesh—and in the shuffle, fingers gripped a sword hilt. A man screamed; silence fell. Then the Rabbi spoke his last rabbinic word: something about drinking the cup and fulfilling the Scriptures.
The ear lay abandoned, while its owner whimpered, clutching the bloody gap where it used to be. Malchus never thought about his ears—they were just there, part of him. Until this one wasn’t. He’s heard of Messiah; probably has even heard Messiah, who often ended his teaching with, “He that has an ear, let him hear!”
Simon Peter, the assailant, may not have been aiming at anything, just striking out impulsively to start the revolution. But this phase of the revolution was already over, its only casualty a shred of skin and cartilage. One sword stroke can’t stop the plan rolling ponderously onward, but before it crushes Messiah, he calls a truce, bends down, and picks up the ear.
He has straightened bones, restored sight to the blind, even life to the dead, so this is nothing to him. It’s tender and telling, though, and it makes a point: I don’t need your swords or strategies. I want your ears.
For the next few days, both Malchus and his ear are forgotten. The crucifixion of the Nazarene was all the news and no one remembered that last little miracle. But suppose, early on the third day, Malchus awoke from his haunted sleep with a peculiar buzzing in his right ear. Or more like a song, with words he couldn’t understand. His mind, troubled with torchlight and flashing swords, quieted like a weaned child with its mother. He put an arm around his sleeping wife, shushing her drowsy complaints, and listened. Worries about his children paled as he listened. When the city’s normal clatter rose with the sun, traces of that song lingered in his ear.
Malchus, loyal servant of the high priest, never questioned a priestly word. By noon, priestly words were chasing rumors like sandals slapping at flies: They stole the body! It’s a trick! It never happened!
But when Malchus heard the news, everything made sense. The ear Messiah restored kept listening. The sweet song began to speak. The power of life that brought Jesus back from the dead was in him.
What happened to Malchus? Probably an ordinary span of days ending in ordinary death. The song in his ear would fade, but if that life was planted in him, he is hearing it now.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.