Sunday, March 18, 2012

Malchus Transformed

I had seen miscreants arrested before, especially those in whom the High Priest had taken a special interest.

The rough hemp cords bound tightly around the wrists after the forearms were positioned forcibly behind the offender's back, the noose around the neck, almost strangle-tight, like the draw cord around an ox being led to the slaughter - these things I had seen and become inured to over my years as a Temple servant, particularly under Caiaphas' rule, but only slightly less prevalent with Annas, his father-in-law.

Yet to see this Man treated so, vanquished all other thoughts from my mind. I was asked years later, sometimes by believers, but most often by skeptics, if Yeshua gave me a new ear, or put the old severed one back?

I can honestly say I do not know. As He was led away like a common criminal, my attention was not on me, but on Him. 

If my severed appendage remained on the ground, it would have been crushed into the trampled dirt in very little time. If it had been reattached, rather than made new, as he had done with the eyes of the man born blind, then that is how He had healed me. As I said, I do not know. Nor do I care.

I did not consider these details important at the time, or even now for that matter, because my Savior was being treated like an animal. And even more heart-breaking, Yeshua was being torn from me without consent, and my sudden selfish grief at being so bereft knew no bounds.

Who was this Man to affect me like this in so brief an encounter in such bizarre and unprecedented circumstances?

Was He a magician or sorcerer, as some claimed? Was He a blasphemer possessed by a demon as the Temple authorities accused? Or was He, as His followers declared, the Son and Lamb of God, Messiah, come to save the world from sin?

Some have also asked whether I held Brother Peter in any resentment for trying to decapitate me that night so long ago? In truth, his attempt to separate my head from my body was the best thing to have ever happened to me. It brought me face to face with my King, and Yeshua used it to make me new, as He said.

I could not help but follow the soldiers as they took Him away. 

In doing so, I saw His disciples scatter, and the young man, Mark, run naked into the night, frantically trying to escape capture themselves.

I especially noted the exploits of my assailant, Peter, as he barreled his way inexplicably through the detachment of troops. He was let through almost as if he did not exist.

Not surprisingly, all paid little attention to me, wounded though I had been; the only casualty of that dark night, save the Lord Yeshua, Himself. 

I was after all, largely expendable to all concerned, being a mere servant.

To all, that is, except my Savior, who, even in the midst of His own betrayal and downfall, healed me and showed me His surpassing love.

As I stumbled along behind the crowd, more from emotional shock that physical weakness, I could make very little sense of what had transpired.

One moment I was Malchus, ambitious servant to the High Priest, the next I was someone very different.

Although made whole in body, I was broken in spirit.

One moment I was arrayed with the evil powers that sought His death, the next I was a partaker of His life.

I have come to know this is how an honest encounter with Messiah always proceeds; revealed darkness replaced by His light, human brokenness supplanted by His wholeness, self-deceit and the delusions of the world overwhelmed by His truth.

I entered that Garden of the Olive Press as Malchus, a dead man walking in sin.

I left a new man, infused with His righteousness.

I did not know it, but I was transformed. Nothing would ever be the same again.