The Night Mob

Malchus had just fallen asleep when he was aroused by a guard, "Get your lantern and plenty of oil. Caiaphas has given orders to the officer of the guard for us to go to the olive grove just across the Kidron Ravine."

As soon as the guard left, Malchus hurriedly dressed, ran into the stable for a lantern, then checked the level of the oil before he lit it. As he rushed toward the courtyard of the compound, he could smell the burning oil coming out from his lamp as it trailed beside him.

When he reached the courtyard, he found a group of about fifty of Caiaphas’s officers and guards already gathered with several swords and numerous clubs. He also noticed a small group of the chief priests and religious leaders huddled together. While Malchus was standing there, he thought he heard a familiar sounding voice and turned just in time to see Hans talking with one of the soldiers in front of Caiaphas’s quarters. Malchus tried to get Han’s attention, but it was at the same time that the officer had motioned for his men to file out the gate. In the midst of the shuffle, Malchus lost sight of Hans altogether and figured that he must have fallen in toward the back of the group.

Whatever the case, Malchus decided that he would meet up with Hans later and moved instead to the front of the group in order to lead the way with the lantern, since he knew exactly where the olive grove was located. As Malchus made his way through Caiaphas’s men, he recognized most of them, at least by face, if not by name. He even recognized many of the chief priests and religious leaders as he had seen them often in the temple booths where animals were sold for sacrifices. The only one he hadn’t seen was one of the men walking with the chief priests.

This man didn’t appear to be one of the chief priests, and he didn’t look like any of the guards he knew. He was robed in a scarlet garment and wore simple leather sandals. He carried in his left hand a leather pouch, maybe for loose coins. Yet, as he walked, he talked quite confidently with the other religious leaders. He seemed to know them. Maybe he was a good friend or relative, but what would he have been doing out at this time of night? Not having any answers, Malchus quickly dismissed his thoughts and moved on.

The air was cool and crisp by the time they arrived at the ravine. Malchus led Caiaphas’s men up the side of the hill to the grove of olive trees. As they were approaching, Malchus noticed about a dozen men scattered throughout the grove. Some appeared to be resting on the flat rocks, while others were sitting and leaning against the trees with their eyes closed. One man, maybe the leader, attempted to rouse them from their state of slumber. Some seemed to be responding, while others were still a bit dazed as to what was going on.

As Caiaphas’s men drew closer, the man who was standing turned and asked abruptly, "For whom are you looking?"

"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.

"I am He," he said with authority.

As he said it, they all fell backwards to the ground. A bit embarrassed by the episode, the officer and his men struggled to stand back up on their feet. Then again the man asked, "For whom are you searching?"

And again they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth."

This time, even more firmly, the leader of the dozen men said, "I told you I am he."

Then the man in the scarlet robe, whom Malchus had noticed walking with the religious men, stepped out from among them, walked over to this man who called himself Jesus, and kissed him.

Before he had fully turned to walk back to the crowd, Jesus addressed him saying, "Judas, how can you do this--betray the Messiah with a kiss?"

Judas paused for a moment then stepped back into the crowd answering Him not a word. At that, the officer nodded his head, and three of the soldiers grabbed Jesus, pulling his arms behind him.

It was then that one of Jesus’ men, who had been a bit dazed earlier by sleep, sprang forward into action. He approached Malchus, who was holding the lantern in the front of Caiaphas’s men. He pulled out his sword and swung it at Malchus--narrowly missing his head. Suddenly, Malchus felt excruciating pain on the side of his head. He shifted the lantern to his other hand and pressed his hand to his right ear. Malchus could feel the warm flow of blood over his fingers and knew his ear had been severed. Tears began to well up in his eyes, but he did not want anyone to know that he had cried, so he tried to contain them.

Jesus turned to the man with the sword and said, "Peter, put your sword away. Should I not drink from the cup the Father has given me?" Next Jesus looked into Malchus’ eyes and placed his hand on the right side of Malchus’ head. Immediately Malchus could feel that the pain was gone. At the same time, he sensed a deep caring in the eyes of this stranger that comforted his mind as well as his body.

Next Jesus turned to the chief priests and the officer of the temple guards who headed up the mob and asked, "Am I a robber that you have come armed with swords and clubs to get me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the temple? I was there every day."

Ignoring his words, the guards bound Jesus’ hands then pushed him forward. When the men with Jesus realized that they were outnumbered and that their leader had been successfully captured, they scattered in all directions.

This time, Malchus lingered toward the back of the returning group. He kept touching his right ear, still not believing what had happened. How could this man named Jesus be a criminal when he had shown such compassion toward him and healed his ear? No man he had ever met could have done this.

Malchus’ thoughts trailed back a few weeks to a conversation with Hans. Hans had told him about overhearing a Jewish woman, who had come into the shop beside the Temple, telling another woman about Jesus. The woman had said that Jesus was the Messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting. Wasn’t a Messiah supposed to be someone who could heal the sick, open blind eyes, and cast out demons? Malchus wondered what Rachel would think when he saw her next and would tell her that his ear had been cut off and then healed by Jesus.

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