‘The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me’, says Jesus in this passage (John 10:25; cf. 5:36).
There is a small element in Edvard Munch’s Golgotha that one might easily miss, and which may imply a Trinitarian dimension; the shape of an upturned hand seems to be suggested in the red cloud above Christ’s head. A hand emerging from the clouds is one of the oldest Christian symbols of God the Father. One could argue therefore that the image implies, as John 10:22–44 tells us, that the saving work of Christ the Son is at the same time of, with, and through the Father.
The absence of the Holy Spirit in this image is notable but, in fact, need not surprise. Even at the zenith of Trinitarian imagery in the Renaissance and Baroque, the Spirit is occasionally absent or barely visible as a tiny dove, hovering between the Father and the Son. Interestingly, this occasional neglect of the Holy Spirit in art is somewhat reflective of the history of Christian theology which has tended to focus more on Christ and the Father than on the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity is rarely depicted in modern art. However, this work by Munch—through its rendering of Christ on the Cross and the red cloud as an apparent allusion to the hand of God—offers an understated, subtle Trinitarian image of Christ who, in unison with his Father, does his Father’s works.
22 It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; 23it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”
31 The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?” 33The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), 36do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there he remained. 41And many came to him; and they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42And many believed in him there.