Category Archives: Gospel According to John

Crucifixion Insight from Chrysostom

Good Friday. We see Jesus, divine Son of God who has consented to take human form, crucified ignominiously on the cross. An innocent man suffering the death of a criminal. The Gospel passage relates that in order to confirm death, one soldier thrusts his lance into Jesus’ side: blood and water flow out, he is indeed deceased (Jn 19:34). We realize that everything in Biblical accounts, especially as related to Jesus, has symbolic importance and we understand that the water is life-giving and relates to baptism, and blood is life-sustaining and refers to the Holy Eucharist. 

This is the Passover time, and the innocent yet executed Jesus is indeed the sacrificial lamb of the Passover: the angel of death passed over the houses of those Hebrews who sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their door posts and lintels. The Hebrews were saved at the time of the Passover and we (all humanity) are saved through Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection. 

St. John Chrysostom (meaning “Golden-mouth”) has even more for us to consider in this mystery. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ body is the preeminent temple. The soldier’s lance breaches that temple and opens it up for all of us. What pours forth are the initiation sacraments of the Church. This is the birth of the Church. 

In the verses immediately preceding this scene, Jesus spoke to the disciple whom he loved and instituted him (who represents us) as the son of Mary, and then gave the disciple (again, us) to his new Mother (Jn 19:26f). Thereupon we have our Mother Church. Then in the scene of Jesus’ side (temple) being opened for us, the initiation sacraments of the Church are given to us. So these two actions together are the founding of the Church. 

Chrysostom further elaborates how fitting it is that Jesus (the new Adam) created the Church from his own side just as Eve (the mother of all mankind) had been fashioned from the side of Adam (Gen 2:21f). Adam had been in a deep sleep and Jesus too was in death, which also was temporary. Note too that Adam describes Eve as “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23a). 

The “golden-mouth” then ends his catechesis: “Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.” (See St. John Chrysostom, Catecheses 3:13-19)

Have a Blessed Easter!