Homily Maundy Thursday
Encounter Jesus – His Darkness
Media Reflection: Malchus in the Garden
Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-50, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:4-11.
Malchus served the High Priest. Caiaphas, the High priest served a God who was not accessible to people, not open, unapproachable by flawed creatures like us.
I wonder how you find God this Easter – accessible, open, inviting or inaccessible, unapproachable and distant?
Malchus found new ears to hear that God was different than he had known so far…. Malchus, the man with a new ear, discovered on this dark night out in the Garden that Jesus could give a person new ears – physical and inner….
Whether or not he knew it, Malchus, like the rest of those in the Garden heard God speak out there in the darkness through this man, Jesus of Nazareth. His very presence was God speaking of an innocent man being falsely treated – voluntarily.
What may have pricked up Malchus’ ears and maybe ours too tonight is Jesus greeting and embracing Judas, and naming him at this dark moment “Friend”. (Matthew 26:50). “Friend”. Let’s think about that…
The known traitor identifies Jesus by the planned greeting of brotherly love and respect to those who had come to snuff all trace of this Teacher’s message from the community. Jesus, the man of sorrows and the man of love, responds to the fickle, self-centred, deal-making man, Judas, as “Friend”.
“Friend, go and do it” says the Nazarene. Go and do it so that something is done – so that something long ago spoken is will finally be completed…..
Who is in charge here? The man unjustly treated and to be completely powerless is in charge. He is carrying out his mission in ways largely undetected to the human eye and ear…
Peter is certainly not detecting everything accurately! Peter thinks he needs to be in charge – by force! So this Malchus, servant to the High Priest, Caiaphas, is on the receiving end of another ill-thought out move by Peter. In the panic and fear Peter draws a sword that he somehow acquired from somewhere and strikes this servant’s ear, severing it….
John, Mark and Matthew carry on with the telling of this fake arrest, but Luke, the Physician, tells us that the healing work of Jesus was even for this moment.
Those hands touched that man and his ear was restored and maybe his heart ears were open…
Everything Malchus heard about this man Jesus would have surely changed – for better or worse. This is not the kind of encounter a person that can simply be forgotten and left un-responded to. Jesus’ very presence, and especially his dark death and suffering calls for a response of some sort…
Maybe the video was just wishful thinking. Maybe Malchus would have been more staunch in opposition to Jesus because of what happened. Maybe he would go on believing that this Jesus was not or him… Jesus and his motley band of followers were people to avoid – too much trouble, too confusing, too dangerous for me to tangle with.
Maybe Malchus was a small minded man who was just glad to have his ear back on his head, like Mr Potato head is happy when Mrs Potato head puts his eye back on!
Maybe that was enough for Malchus and he did not even ask any other question about this man and what happened and why.
Maybe Malchus was a thankful man for small mercies. He was aware that he was in the presence of purity and goodness…..once. it was good once but something to be left it at that – like a married couple who knew love once but don’t expect to experience it again.
At the very best, Malchus may have been a man who might have been happy to know Jesus’ presence and goodness once, but then been happy to become a casual observer of Jesus in the hours that followed and the days and years that followed as this small community grew. Like the person who used to have faith and be a part of a local church community who left it behind but still keeps tabs on it for some reason….but never personally investing the self in it?
Then again, maybe it was something like the video suggested.
• All the stereotypes of this Rabbi and his little community were completely blown out of the water for Malchus, a man touched by the grace and love of the man of sorrows.
Maybe Malchus finally could hear that Jesus was not some rebellious political threat to his power of prestige.
• Jesus was not a man of force, power, influence, as we human beings know these things.
• The Nazarene was not out to get his way by these human ways as Peter learnt. Maybe Malchus was at least open enough to say, “Jesus was not the guy I have been taught about”.
How about you this Easter? Got ears to hear?
The truth is we can be quite deaf to God’s voice and quite unaware of his mission, as Peter was.
• As church, we can misrepresent God in all kinds of ways because we are just like Malchus and peter and the rest – flawed human beings who would much rather live life on our terms and keep Jesus at a distance lest he call us and change us.
• But just because we are disinterested, disconnected, unapproachable or rash, at times, does not mean God is these things anytime.
Malchus served a man and a system who knew God as being very unapproachable by the average person. That is not us. Our God is now completely approachable and open and inviting all to come to him and receive his life in theirs.
They could not see that God was on the move in a whole new way in this unjustly treated man of sorrows. We can see Jesus in re-telling of this event this weekend. We can hear Jesus speaking and sense his presence and receive new ears to hear and new faith to live in.
In this grave moment, the grace, patience, love and power of the man, revealed in weakness is unstoppable.
• Even now in betrayal and fear of brutality to come,
• Jesus healed the wounded Malchus,
• challenged the sword bearer, Peter, and
• called his dark enemy, Judas, “Friend”, and encouraged the betrayer to complete his betraying work which would lead to his death at the hands of brutal men – all for the life of the world.
So which Malchus might you be tonight on this night when we end up with Jesus in the Garden of sorrow?
1. The Malchus who does not let the good man in to your life out of fear or self-interest or something else?
2. The Malchus with no awareness of the magnitude of the man’s presence – his love, his grand plan to serve the world in weakness and undo your death and wipe away your wrongs and soak up your tears?
3. The Malchus who is observing a good man but not embracing him?
4. The Malchus who truly saw and heard the man. The Malchus who turned away from half-truths about Jesus and truly saw and heard God in this man?
Whoever we are, this man will get it done. His commitment to us is unstoppable. His touch and his power to give new ears still present now.
So, we go to garden and we enter the night and the dark day as Malchus and all the others see and hear this man willingly go through it all for the life of us.
We pray that everyone would receive new ears to hear this Jesus, the Son of God and truly receive him with new ears, like Malchus, this Maundy Thursday Night and beyond.