God’s Word for You
Luke 22:49-51 Ecce cicatrix!
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 12, 2019
49 And when those with him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
The reaction of Jesus’ disciples was to rush to their Savior’s defense. Judas may have mistakenly thought that Jesus would get himself free of anything, but now the Apostles erred on the other side, thinking that Jesus would enable a handful of fishermen, a retired tax collector and a few others to defeat a contingent of armed soldiers with just one or two swords (the word for sword in verse 49 is singular; perhaps they didn’t bring both of the weapons from verse 38).
One of them grabbed a blade and slashed. His target was evidently an important member of the household of Caiaphas, since his title is given as “the” servant rather than “a” servant. Either the swing went wide, or the servant ducked, or both, but the result was a sliced ear, which Jesus promptly healed. It was the last miracle of the Lord before his death.
This final miracle of Jesus was to heal his enemy. The very first miracle of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel was to escape from his enemies in his home town of Nazareth (Luke 4:30), but now he was allowing himself to be captured, even to heal one of them.
Neither Matthew, Mark or Luke mention the name of the disciple who cut off the servant’s ear. Some commentators think that John only revealed it to be Peter many years later (John 18:10) because Peter had died, and there would be no more retribution from the family of the high priest. Whatever the reason, we now know who it was, and Peter’s boldness and rashness have become well known to us.
Was the ear cut only a little bit, or a lot? The text does not say that Jesus picked up the severed organ, but that he touched it. It was probably cut nearly all the way through and dangled there hideously covered in blood. When my wife and I met, we were both performing in a college production of King Lear. A mutual friend of ours was involved in a swordfight in that play, and during the dress rehearsal, a swing from a stage sword (made of metal and dangerous enough) sliced off the top of his ear. To this day he has a white scar there. I imagine that he has relayed the event many times from his pulpit over the last twenty years, especially on Good Friday. Perhaps the servant of the high priest did the same thing (assuming Jesus left a scar; perhaps there was none), letting everyone in the priest’s household know that Jesus of Nazareth had healed him the day before he died: “Ecce cicatrix! Here is the scar!” It was a testimony of God’s mercy proclaimed there for many years afterward. It remains a testimony to God’s mercy even as we remember it today.
Pastor Timothy Smith