Skip to main content

I like to compare the four Gospel writers to four major news outlets reporting the news of Jesus. Consider how ABC, CBS, CNN, or NBC might report the arrest of Jesus in the garden. Our four Evangelists of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide different context in different writing styles.

Mark, who wrote chronologically firstly, from Rome, is clearly in a hurry to get his message completed, perhaps because of persecution. He writes in Mark 14: 47: “Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Notice the person with the sword was “standing near.” No names are given.

Matthew was an educated tax collector and probably wrote from Jerusalem. He writes in Matthew: 26: 51: “With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Now we read a companion of Jesus struck the servant.

Luke traveled with Saint Paul and probably wrote his Gospel in Asia Minor. He was noted to be a physician and artist, and he writes in Luke 22: 50: “And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” We still do not have any names, yet Jesus healed the servant in Luke. Notice the detail of the right ear. A physician would know anatomy and would not let the man suffer.

John was the only Apostle who died a natural death and perhaps lived into his 90’s. He moved to Ephesus after the death of his brother, James. John wrote his Gospel like a Grecian play of his era. In John 18:10, he writes: “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” John names the characters in this event. The sometimes-impetuous Peter lopped off the ear of the servant named Malchus. In Greek, Malchus means “bad luck.” Indeed.

We see that over time the Gospels give us more detail into this one incident of the arrest of Jesus. All four writers felt this incident was important enough to include in their telling. For me, this story means the followers of Jesus tried to stop the arrest of Jesus and to fight for Him. However, Jesus knew His mission and purpose. His arrest, persecution, suffering, death, and resurrection was the Father’s will that no human effort could thwart. Jesus, with other-worldly will, gave Himself up for the greater good of human salvation.

Good Friday is only good because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Leave a Reply