My original title for this was going to be something along the lines of, “Why not Peter with Jesus.” The basic premise was this. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus heals Malchus. Soldiers do not arrest Peter and execute him with Jesus. I started thinking about this incident yesterday and how to me Peter not being arrested made no sense and if you only read John, it doesn’t make any sense at all.
3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews[d] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door.
Can you imagine that conversation?
Malchus: “Holy crap! That crazy Jew just cut off my ear!”
Soldier: “Stop being such a baby Malchus. It’s just a flesh wound. You’ll be fine.”
Malchus: “Are….are you sure?”
Soldier: “Yes, Malchus.”
Malchus: “Oh, okay. If, if you say so.”
Doesn’t seem terribly plausible does it. But without any other information, what are we to assume? The Romans wouldn’t put up with this. Peter would be right there with Jesus on Cross. There wouldn’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. Thankfully, Luke gives us a few more details on the matter.
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
Okay, Jesus heals the dude. Pretty incredible and it seems plausible that they would be so awestruck by what they witness that they may have forgotten about Peter. Then again, these were Roman soldiers, so it doesn’t seem that plausible.
Soldier One: “That guy cut off Malchus’ ear!”
Soldier Two: “Yeah, but this Jesus guy made it all better.”
Soldier One: “I don’t care! He attacked a Roman soldier and cut off is ear. That’s not gonna fly.”
This conversation seems much more likely, but again, the guards don’t go after Peter. As awestruck as they may have been, there’s still simply no way that they wouldn’t have arrested Peter on the spot. They’d have been all like, “Well, that was cool. Still, we can’t have you running around mucking things up now, can we. You’re clearly a threat to Rome. Off with us you come.” Perhaps one of the other Gospels could shed some more light on the subject matter.
47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Oh, thank you, Matthew. Luke and John suddenly make more sense now. The disciples suddenly running away ties everything together quite well. Peter cuts off an ear, Jesus heals it, and in all of it the disciples scatter. The Roman soldiers are all like, “Wut!?” but in the end, they got what they came for. Malchus is fine and Peter is presumably gone. What are they to gain by sending resources after him? How are they to convince Pontius of using their resources to find him?
Soldier: “They cut Malchus’ ear off.”
Pontius eyes Malchus suspiciously.
Malchus: “I got better.”
When you put Luke, John, and Matthew together, Peter not being crucified with Jesus doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Like Chris Rosebrough says on Fighting for the Faith, the three rules for good discernment are context, context, context.