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"God Forbid, Lord!"
by Wayne Blank
"From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You." (Matthew 16:21-22 RSV)
"God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You."
On the fateful night when the mob came to arrest Jesus, Peter, and the others, still believed that Jesus was about to lead His followers in an uprising against, not only the ruling Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome), but the religious authorities (see Sanhedrin) who rejected Him. When Peter drew his sword against the mob, it was intended to prevent Jesus' arrest, and to prevent Jesus' death - the sacrifice of the Messiah was something that they wanted to prevent at all costs! They just didn't get it, yet.
Malchus was the personal servant of the high priest Caiaphas. He had the unfortunate fate of being the first one that Peter began his defense of Jesus with - Peter cut off his right ear (something that may indicate that Peter was left-handed - as they faced each other, Malchus' right ear would be on the same side as Peter's left hand, which had a sword in it) in the garden of Gethsemane.
It should be considered that Peter almost certainly wasn't just trying to cut off the man's ear, he was trying to take off the man's head - not as a criminal act of murder, but as a military act of war. Malchus survived only because he dodged sufficiently so that the sword just grazed his sideways-ducked head, cleanly taking off the ear, as Peter swung the weapon with everything he had (anyone who has had experience in the use of a sword or a saber knows exactly what Peter did, or tried to do, and that just taking off an ear is a lucky, or unlucky, depending on which end of the sword you're at, blooper).
"When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered."
The healing of the injured Malchus was the last recorded miracle of Jesus Christ during His human lifetime:
"But Jesus said, "No more of this!" And He touched his ear and healed him." (Luke 22:51 RSV)
Jesus then explained that if He were about to take over the world, at that time (see What Satan Fears Most), He wouldn't need the help of humans to do it:
"Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" (Matthew 26:53-54 RSV)
Fact Finder: (a) Even after finding the empty tomb on the resurrection morning, did Peter, and the others, still not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead? (b) Just prior to His ascension, did Jesus Christ at last enable them, by means of the Holy Spirit upon them, to fully understand what He had been teaching them for years?