Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 121.2 x 96.9 cm
Date: ca. 17th century
Location: The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.
Luke 22:47-53 - While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series notes how the disciples represent those in panic who try to take matters into their own hands. They fight to avoid the path of suffering God has laid out for his messenger and those who follow him. While one asks, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" another one answers on his own, wielding the sword and cutting off the right ear of the high priest's servant. Sometimes disciples believe they must take matters into their own hands to defend Jesus. But here Jesus stops the attempt to defend him with violence. His path takes a different direction. The healed servant pictures the opportunity that exists to experience God's grace. Here is a man who rejects Jesus and participates in the arrest leading to Jesus' death. Yet the avowed enemy is not beyond Jesus' healing touch. A severed ear can always be restored, if one will listen to him.
In this picture, while a soldier lifts a rope noose to put it around Jesus' arms and chest, Jesus touches Malchus' right ear. The connection between the two is through a flow from Jesus’ right hand on his own chest, that follows the arc of light clockwise across his breast bone, down his left arm, and to Malchus' right ear. The flow of energy becomes visual, and Malchus appears more struck by that than the blow from the sword. Although the identity of the painter of this work is unknown, it has been identified as being from the Flemish school, and was created in the Netherlands during the 17th century.