The Last Miracle

Notes of an address

"When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said to him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear" (Luke 22:49-50).

The servant of the high priest would hold a commission from his master to go with Judas into the garden and lead that multitude that went forth to take the Lord Jesus captive. He would carry the warrant for His arrest. How astonished Peter must have been when Judas stepped out of the throng and put the traitorous kiss upon the Master's cheek. He did not know how to deal with Judas, but he had no hesitation as to how to treat Malchus when he, vaunting himself in his temporary authority, laid hands upon the Lord, and in the name of the high priest directed the band to make Him their prisoner. At such audacity the natural indignation of Peter flamed up hotly, and drawing his sword he aimed one mighty blow at the dastard, meaning to lay him dead at his feet, cleft through the skull.

It was new work for the fisherman, he had not been trained to wield a sword, and that misdirected energy only resulted in the loss of an ear to Malchus and the exposure of Peter's folly. No, that was not the only result, there was another. "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world," the Lord had said, and those works were not yet finished, and that light was still to shine amid the deepening gloom. Hence, with a word of gentle rebuke to Peter, He stretched out His hand and touched the severed ear and healed it. The last act of those tender hands ere they were bound by His hardened captors was to heal the leader of them. The audacity of Malchus and the impetuosity of Peter only served as an opportunity for the continued manifestation of the absolute goodness which in Him was to triumph over all evil. "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" are the first words recorded as having come from His lips in this Gospel of Luke in which alone is recorded the healing of Malchus. That business was blessing and not judgment; it was healing and not a sword. And "the acceptable year of the Lord" in which such incomparable, invincible mercy was displayed has continued until this day.

That last miracle wrought in such circumstances, and so calculated to move any heart and open any eyes not utterly hardened and blinded by sin, had no affect upon the multitude; it does not seem to have impressed even Peter at the time, but it did afterwards. Could he ever forget it? — when instructed by the Holy Spirit he learned the glory of that submission to suffering which he had seen in his Master, and the blessedness of that grace that was in Him that returned only good for evil, and that could not be provoked by any insult to retaliate in kind. There can be little doubt but that this very incident was in his mind when he wrote his Epistles and dwelt upon the sufferings of Christ and exhorted the saints to "follow His steps," the steps of the One who suffered patiently in the path of God's will, and so was infinitely acceptable to God. Ah! that was the secret that lay behind it all. He sought not His own ease or glory, He valued not His own reputation or contended for His own rights, the glory of God was His purpose; to finish His work and to be acceptable to Him was His very life. And so Peter, who recalls those sufferings and tells us of them so tenderly, also tells us that "He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (2 Peter 1:17). To be pleasing to His Father was enough for Him.

Brethren, as we consider how patiently the Lord suffered, are not our souls moved and drawn to Him? It is not because crowns of glory shine resplendent on His brow that we love Him and adore Him. No, we rejoice and are exceeding glad because of His exaltation, yet it is that lowly pathway of sorrow that ended in the cross that has bound our hearts to Him with unbreakable fetters. Suffering love has claimed us and made us His disciples TO FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS. And as we are partakers of His sufferings, happy are we, for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon us (1 Peter 4:14). In such a path we are acceptable to God, for it is the path that the feet of Jesus trod.

We shall be tested continually. Yes, tested by our brethren as well as by the world, and the test may be more severe from within the Christian circle than from without it. Ah! how ready are we to draw the sword and slash away when we think that we have been wronged. To draw the sword, too, not in fancied defence of the Lord as Peter did, but in our own defence, and how many we have wounded and harmed, who only can be healed by the touch of the Lord, by the bitter spirit of resentment and retaliation which so often rises up within us. May, the Lord pardon us for all such un-Christlike conduct. This is the day in which we may suffer for Christ's sake, in which when we are reviled we may bless, and overcome evil with good, and so follow in His steps. The grace that transformed Peter from what we see him to be in Gethsemane to what he was when he wrote his Epistle can transform us also, and it will if we consider the ways of the Lord as he considered them, and learn of Him as taught by the Holy Ghost, for grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus are inseparable. Peter who had learned the lesson well linked them together in the last exhortation that he ever gave to the church, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."