“Disarming Peter” by Lauren Wright Pittman

Disarming Peter
by Lauren Wright Pittman
Inspired by John 18:1-11
Digital painting

“In disarming Peter, Christ disarms all Christians.” —Tertullian (160-220 CE)

Pressed in by soldiers and religious leaders, surrounded by lanterns, torches, and weapons, Peter does what many of us would do. He responds to the threat of violence with violence. With sword in hand, he tries to take the unfolding narrative into his own hands and cuts off Malchus’ ear. Jesus tells Peter to “put the sword back into its sheath” (John 18:11). This is the moment I wanted to capture in this image. I imagine a rush of emotions surge through Peter’s body like a bolt of lightning. I imagine he feels the
sting of shame after being admonished by his teacher for his violent actions. I imagine he feels the searing grief that comes with the realization that his teacher and friend will in fact die, and he is helpless to do anything about it—perhaps the most painful of all.

Peter had a choice. He could continue down the path of violence, fight the soldiers and religious leaders and protect Jesus from the inevitable, or he could yield, dropping his sword and surrendering to the cup that God has placed before his friend.

In the image, this choice is suspended in time. Is Peter releasing the sword and choosing the way of peace? Or is Peter about to take up the sword and choose the way of violence? On the left in the image, leaves from the garden’s olive grove reach out to shade and comfort him. This is the way of peace. On the right, the soldiers are looming with the flames closing in around him. This is the way of violence.

Peter releases the sword as if it was on fire, as hot tears of shame, grief, and helplessness pour down his face. Which way will we choose?
—Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman

© a sanctified art | sanctifiedart.org

About the Artist: Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman

Lauren (she/her) is an artist, graphic designer, and theologian. She uses paint, metallic inks, and Apple pencil to image the layered complexity she experiences in scripture texts. She also helps faith communities share their vibrant stories through branding & design services.