Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Vision (4.13.19): Blood and Water

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 19:31-37.

But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water (John 19:34).

The soldier likely thrust the spear into Christ’s side to verify his death. So Calvin observes: “he did so for the purpose of ascertaining if he were dead.”

There have been many explanations, physical and metaphorical, for the “blood and water” that flowed from Christ’s lifeless body.

Physically, it suggests that the spear pierced the pericardium, from which flowed both the watery fluid and blood.

Metaphorically, many interpretations have been suggested, including:

The water represents his divinity and the blood his humanity.
The water represents his baptism and the blood his crucifixion.
The water represents the Holy Spirit and the blood the Incarnation of the Son of God.
The water represents sanctification and the blood justification (Matthew Henry).

One of the most popular interpretations has been sacramental. The water represents baptism and the blood the Lord’s Supper. John Chrysostom said that when believers took the cup, they were “drinking from His very side.” J. C. Ryle, however, warned that to draw such a conclusion here may tend to “vulgarize” the sacraments and “bring them into contempt.”

Some have drawn parallels to 1 John 5:6-8 which begins: “This is he that came by water and blood” (v. 6) and continues by speaking of the three that bear witness in heaven: The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost (v. 7), and of the three that bear witness on earth: “the Spirit, and the water, and the blood” (v. 8).

John offers us no inspired interpretation of any symbolic meaning related to the blood and water. At the least, we can affirm this as a historical reality. It really happened. And I think we can say that the primary purpose of this description is to affirm the real and actual death of Christ on our behalf. Christ tasted death for us. The older we get the more the realization comes to us that we too will one day pass over that river of death. And the closer we come to that reality, the more we appreciate the one who died and bled for us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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