Judas came to Christ with “a band of men and officers . . . with lanterns and torches and weapons” (John 18:). Jesus boldly stepped forward, identifying himself as the Jesus of Nazareth they sought. Concerned for his apostles, he challenged the mob: If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way. Peter, who had recently declared himself ready to follow the Savior to His death, rushed forward with his sword, “smote the high priest’s servant [Malchus], and cut off his right ear” (see John 18). In what we refer to as “a Malchus moment,” Christ looked past his own suffering and healed the ear—a compassionate example to us all.
Scriptural Compassion and Healing
Malchus was one of the Savior’s infinite number of daily healings with life-changing results.
Blessing of a Malchus Moment
We have no record of Malchus’s life afterward. We may hope that the Savior’s compassion in healing the injury would bring immense gratitude and possibly conversion to the Savior’s mission and His teachings. But whoever recorded the events of that evil evening did not include this.
But the healing of Malchus can touch our hearts and help us feel the Savior’s compassion for all children of the Father he always worshipped and loved.
When we experience an enlightening, live-changing Malchus moment—which we all do—we feel Christ ‘s compassion touching and healing us; we are never the same.
The scriptures are filled with Malchus moments. Church curriculum explains, “We learn from the examples of men and women whose lives have been blessed as they have followed the Lord’s revealed will.” 1
Abraham’s life was filled with one Malchus moment after another. His moments of death-life sacrifices were among them.
As a young man, Abraham was chosen as a human sacrifice to pagan gods. Bound and helpless, he felt hands reaching for him. He prayed.
God, in His compassion, “hearkened and heard, and he filled me with the vision of the Almighty, and the angel of his presence stood by me, and immediately unloosed my bands.”
God promised, “I will lead thee by my hand, and I will take thee, put upon thee my name . . . and my power shall be over thee” (Abraham 1: 15-18).
More than an ear was saved during this Malchus moment. From that moment Abraham walked and talked with God.
As an old man, Abraham became sacrificer rather than sacrificed. God instructed, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest . . . and offer him . . . for a burnt offering.”
As well as being the joy of Abraham’s life, Isaac was Abraham’s link to his promised limitless posterity.
But Abraham prepared for the sacrifice. Isaac asked about the lamb, and his father replied, “God will provide himself a lamb.”
As Abraham bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, as he himself had once been bound and laid, and raised the knife—
the angel of the Lord called unto him . . . lay not thine hand upon the lad . . . for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (see Genesis 22; 2-13).
Compassionate God provided a ram for a lamb. God and Abraham knew that there could be no ram to stop the infinite sacrifice of God’s son.
The understanding and compassion from this Malchus moment would be eternally with Abraham (see Genesis 22:2-13).
Christ’s Compassionate Earthly Life
Elder Ulisses Soares explained,
The Savior acted compassionately toward all who would come unto Him . . . Moved by His deep and abiding compassion, [He] interacted with people of His day and helped those who were suffering and extended His merciful hand to those who needed relief . . . both physically and spiritually . . . everyday expressions of the reality of His pure love. 2
Christ created mass Malchus moments in feeding multitudes of 5,000 and 4,000. The most important feeding, His incomparable teachings, seemed to be overshadowed by hunger gratification for some. Many potential Malchusites found the doctrine difficult. Christ welcomed all who stayed .
Even greater numbers received His compassion in mass Malchus-style healings. Often “great multitudes followed him” and untold numbers were brought by others and and laid out where he would pass. “He healed them all” (Matthew 12:15).
During a visit after His resurrection, Christ provided his Apostles with a miraculous catch of 153 fishes. During a private moment afterward, Jesus indicated the fishes and said to Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”
Peter replied, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” The Savior responded, “Feed my lambs.” He seemed to be saying, “Stop thinking about fish and start thinking about lambs.”
He questioned Peter again, “Simon . . . lovest thou me?” Peter repeated, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. The same response: “Feed my sheep.”
Peter was getting concerned when the Savior asked a third time, “Simon . . . lovest thou me?” “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee, Peter replied. Again Jesus answered, “Feed my sheep” (see John 21).
The commitment to continue compassionate love, caring, and kindness for all His sheep was so important the Savior repeated it three times.
This Malchus moment shows us the Savior’s overriding commitment to providing for His beloved sheep—all of us among them.