"Suffer it not to run to waste, but receive it": Good Friday and the gift of the sacraments

But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water - John 19:34, from the Passion according to St John, appointed to be read at the Ante-Communion on Good Friday

A suggestive word was made use of by the evangelist, in not saying pierced, or wounded His side, or anything else, but opened; that thereby, in a sense, the gate of life might be thrown open, from whence have flowed forth the sacraments of the Church, without which there is no entrance to the life which is the true life. That blood was shed for the remission of sins; that water it is that makes up the health-giving cup, and supplies at once the laver of baptism and water for drinking - Augustine, Tractate 120 on the the Gospel according to St John

Not without a purpose, or by chance, did those founts come forth, but because by means of these two together the Church consists. And the initiated know it, being by water indeed regenerate, and nourished by the Blood and the Flesh. Hence the Mysteries take their beginning - Chrysostom, Homily 85 on the Gospel according to St John

That faith may no longer rest on these elements [i.e. the sacrifices of the Old Testament], John declares that the fulfillment of both of these graces is in Christ; and here he presents to us a visible token of the same fact. The sacraments which Christ has left to his Church have the same design; for the purification and sanctification of the soul, which consists in newness of life, is pointed out to us in Baptism, and the Lord's Supper is the pledge of a perfect atonement. But they differ widely from the ancient figures of the Law; for they exhibit Christ as being present, whereas the figures of the Law pointed out that he was still at a distance. For this reason I do not object to what Augustine says, that our sacraments have flowed from Christ's side  - Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel according to St John

Mark it running out, and suffer it not to run waste, but receive it. Of the former, the water, the Prophet speaketh in the first words of the next chapter, that out of His pierced side God 'opened a fountain of water to the House of Israel for sin and for uncleanness;' of the fulness whereof we all have received in the Sacrament of Baptism. Of the latter, the blood, which the Prophet, in the ninth chapter before, calleth, 'the blood of the New Testament,' we may receive this day; for it will run in the high and holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ - Lancelot Andrewes, Good Friday sermon 1597

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord - Article XXV

(The illustration of the Cross is from a 4th Century Sarcophagus, Rome.)


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