Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Servant's Ear

Perhaps one of the most obscure names that we find in the Bible is the name, Malchus. Just saying the name, maybe you know who I'm talking about and maybe you don't. His name is mentioned only once, even though his story is told more often than that, and it raises an interesting question:

Who in your life can you name?

Can you name the person who bagged your groceries at the store this week? Can you name the teller at the bank who handled your transaction? Can you name the police officer who pulled you over for speeding? Oh, you bag your own groceries, bank online, and don't speed?

Alright, then. Can you name the person who wrote that snarky comment on that post you made last week? Can you name one person who "checked in" on your church's live feed last Sunday? How about your mailman? Do you know your mailman's name? (Mine is Katie, right now. I've also had Tim and Ray, and Ray still says hello to me when we pass each other on his new route.)

The point is - there are all kinds of persons in our world whose names we never take the time to learn, whose names we never bother to notice, even if they're printed out right in front of us. There are names we can see right in front of us that we don't even take the time to spell correctly. Have you seen this one? You're reading through the comments on some social media thread, and "Johnathan" makes a post, but everyone starts responding to "Jonathan." His name has another "h" in it. It's literally right there. But most of us can't be bothered by such things as even getting someone else's name right, if we even know it at all. Those extra three seconds...well, they're precious or something.

But Malchus.

Malchus wasn't wearing a name tag. He wasn't announcing his presence. In fact, he didn't seem to be much of a central player even in the scene that came to tell us his name. He was one of many, a cog in a wheel, a soldier in an army. A servant in the high priest's court. There were dozens of them, none of whose names we're given in this story except his. Malchus is the only servant named in the Garden of Gethsemane at the arrest of Jesus.

You might think, then, that he must have been the one to nab Him. He must have been the one to grab Jesus by the shoulder and say, "You're coming with us." He must have had some tremendous role in the whole operation, must have been some mastermind or some commander. But no.

He was simply the servant whose ear Peter slashed off.

Yup. That's it. John gives us one name out of this whole scene, and it's the name of the servant whose ear was slashed off, whose ear Jesus healed. Matthew doesn't give us his name. Mark doesn't give us his name. Luke doesn't give us his name. He wasn't important enough to anyone but John...and Jesus.

Jesus wants you to know his name.

Why? Why bother? This guy wasn't anybody. He was basically nobody. His mention has no bearing on the story; it doesn't change anything. Why does it matter if we know who Malchus is or not?

Because this one little scene, this little moment in Malchus's life, is part of his story forever. Forever. And it's part of God's story forever. Forever. See, the things that happen to us - the things that happen to all persons - they're part of our story, and they're part of God's story, and we'll miss out on so much of what that means if we don't take the time to learn it. If we don't pay attention to what's going on. If we don't bother to learn the names.

You come in contact every day with dozens of persons, many of whose names you'll never know. But God does. Many of those names, you could learn pretty easily if you'd just take a moment to read a nametag, to read a profile link, to ask a simple question - "hey, what's your name?" And it matters. Because every one of those names is written into God's story...forever...and you have to wonder what you might learn about God if you'd learn just one or two of them.

You might learn, for example, that our God is the kind of God who knows every name.

Even the name of an obscure, lowly single servant in a moderate militia who happened to stand, for just a second, in the wrong place at the wrong time...and become part of everything forever.

His name was Malchus. 

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