The Arrest of Jesus

Circa 1264-1288
Limestone relief from Amiens Cathedral
The Metropolitan Museum, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, 17.120.5

Detail: Jesus' hand reaching down to heal the servant's ear.

This striking relief captures the sense of disorder and confusion of the event, but in contrast with the calm central figure of Jesus, who with his left hand heals the ear that Peter's sword has just struck off the servant in the foreground (see detail of hand on ear). Peter can be recognized by squarish beard and balding head (see the iconography of St. Peter). John's gospel identifies him as the one who cut the ear and gives the servant's name, Malchus (John 18:10-11). Only Luke (22:49-51) tells of Jesus' healing the ear. Matthew (26:51-54) and Mark (14:47) both have the episode but omit the names and the healing.

In Matthew and John Jesus rebukes the disciple with the sword on the basis that Jesus' time has come ("How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled?"). This emphasis may explain the Amiens sculptor's decision to place the calm curing of the unfortunate servant in the midst of this frenzied scene.

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Photographed at the Metropolitan by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.