Betrayal~Passion Week

The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas) 1304-06, Giotto (1266-1337) fresco image source

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 

An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:41-44

Use the eye of your imagination to take you into this passage.

Allow yourself to wonder

If you were the artist standing in front of a blank canvas how would you paint this scene?

…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. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when Darkness reigns.’

Luke 22: 47-53 NIV

Armed with this passage, you can easily unravel the artist’ intent by noticing how your eyes travel around the painting. Where is your eye being directed? or rather what is the central focal area of this painting?

You may answer quickly and correctly if you say “the kiss” is the focal area but what is the artist doing to take you there?

As you survey the scene you will notice that all eyes are directed towards Judas’ kiss

You can feel the tension as Jesus and Judas are locked in a dramatic stare

The colors used are intentional as Judas is in yellow robe is very eye catching and symbolic represents jealousy.

Following the lines of the robe upward you realize that they are also directing you to the focal area.

There is a counter subject happening to the left of Peter as he is cutting off the ear of the soldier.

And the sharp diagonal lines of the clubs and the torches represent movement and drama.

Seeing the multiple heads and confusion of a crowd pressing in, image the sounds that surround the scene.

St. Luke Passion by Polish composer Penderecki. He is a very devout Catholic living in a predominantly atheist society.  He is inspired by the Passions of J.S. Bach and so in 1966 he decided to write a Passion using the Gospel of Luke as his text. A Passion is a large scale choral composition that relates the events leading up to and including Jesus’ crucifixion. There would be no acting or costumes used and it was written for church services before Easter Sunday. This excerpt takes us deeply into the sounds of Jesus’ arrests as recreated by orchestra, chorus and vocal soloists. I don’t believe any translation is needed for you to get the full power of this music.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Debra says:

    Thank you for these Passion Week reflections. I love your connection of painting and music with scripture!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Debra, so good to hear from you. God bless you and family.


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