To learn more about Jack Baumgartner, or to see more of his paintings and artwork, please visit him here at The School of the Transfer of Energy.
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (See John 20:19-29)
Belief and doubt are common to faith and to life. The resurrection assures us, but resurrection is no easy concept to grasp, and is no easy picture to paint.
In “Go On, Saint Thomas,” by Jack Baumgartner, we get a glimpse into the consummation of faith and doubt with Jesus and Saint Thomas meeting after Jesus’ resurrection. What appears to be the account of Saint Thomas putting his fingers into the side of Jesus can easily be construed as a humble embrace between the doubt of man and the Love of his God.
As in many other Biblically themed works by Jack Baumgartner, we see the curtain being drawn by the hand of the “Omniscient Storyteller” giving us a glimpse into this scene. We also see the white banner being pulled by Christ into this landscape. This image weaves together the common narrative, which connects this moment and the entire storyline of God’s work of redemption and restoration from Genesis to Revelation.
In the background of the painting, we see what looks like a spot light illuminating the scene and the dark background, which looks like a large circular stone that would cover a garden tomb. In the center, we see Jesus with Thomas, in what looks like the beginning of an embrace. In the foreground of the painting, we see ten daisies representing the other ten disciples. All the disciples, minus Judas, are represented here. The flowers also suggest we are outside the garden tomb, they are also reminiscent of The Garden of Eden, and they foreshadow Eden’s perfect paradise restored in resurrection.
In the upper right-hand corner of the painting, we see a window revealing a blue evening and a section of a full moon helping light the darkness of the painting’s “stage.” The window suggests the scene is referencing the upper room, where we know Thomas meets his Lord (see John 20:19-29). This occurs a week after Jesus has defeated death and removed “death’s sting.” Now, He reveals Himself to His disciples in their prison-like tomb of doubt, death, and despair. Jesus reveals His Resurrection Life to them. The Son of God illuminates the darkness in the resurrection morning, and now transforms doubt into belief and death into life.
Jack Baumgartner captures this moment of Thomas’ “resurrection” in the Resurrected Christ’s arms and assures us all of our own resurrection in the midst of our sin, death, doubts, fears, and uncertainties. Just as Jesus transcended death and the grave, He transcended the locked doors of the prison tomb-like locked upper room. Jesus freed His disciples and He frees us from our sin, from our fears, from our prison tombs of death and doubt, and He leads us into the light and life of the resurrection morning.
As always, Jack Baumgartner packs so much movement, color, beauty, and Biblical imagery into his art, and “Go On, Saint Thomas” is no exception.
For other reviews of Jack Baumgartner’s work see below:
Jack Baumgartner - Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God, © 2009. “Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God- Art Review,” by Robbie Pruitt, © September 2011.
Jack Baumgartner - Jacob Wrestling With God, Painting, © 2011. “Stone and Knee: An Art Review of Jacob Wrestling with God,” by Robbie Pruitt, © December 2011.