WATER AND BLOOD FROM JESUS' SIDE
The study in this lesson will be the words of John 19:34, "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out." As a result of a spear being thrust into His heart both water and blood flowed from the side of Jesus. Scripture does not tell us the motive of the Roman soldier in piercing the body of Jesus with a spear. It is most likely that when the soldiers came to break His bones to hasten death, Jesus was lifeless, but it may have occurred to the soldiers that he might have been only unconscious; and thus to put His death beyond a doubt, he thrust his spear into His side. Doubtless the hand of God was in this incident, using this heathen soldier as the instrument in producing the greatest event in all history. First, one of the interesting things about the death of Christ is that as a result of the spear being thrust into His side, water flowed from His side as well as blood. Many physiological reasons have been advanced to explain why both water and blood came from His side. The generally accepted idea advanced by many who understand anatomy is that the spear pierced the pericardium, which is a membrane that incloses the heart. They say it is from this punctured membrane that both blood and water came from His side. In addition, they say that the presence of the water is an indication of the great stress and suffering which caused the heart of Jesus to rupture and cause His death. This is an interesting hypothesis, but it could never be proven. There was both water and blood, but why we do not know.
Second, one thing we do know about this event is that the refusal of the soldiers to break His legs and the piercing of His side with a spear were marks of prophecy. In fact, the Roman soldiers fulfilled two prophecies. In order that it might be fully known beyond all doubt that Jesus was the Messiah God promised to send, the prophets of the Old Testament gave many marks of identification. All of these marks of prophecy had to be found in the person of the man who should be the great King and Savior. One prophecy fulfilled by the Roman soldiers is stated by John in verse 36, "For these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." One prophecy was fulfilled unknowingly by the soldier who refused to break the legs of Jesus. The first prophecy quoted by John as fulfilled was Exodus 12:46 which says, "A bone of his shall not be broken." This scripture was a command of God to the Jewish pele in reference to their Passover lamb they killed yearly at each Passover observance. But the Passover lamb was a type of Jesus their Messiah. The Passover lamb was the type and Jesus was the antitype That command was given to Israel so that the person that lamb represented would likewise be protected from having His legs broken. That the Passover lamb was a symbol or type of Christ is expressly declared in 1 Cor. 5:7, "For even Christ our Passover lamb is sacrificed for us." What this amounts to is that as Israel was under command not to break to break a bone of the Passover Lamb, so this Roman soldier was under destined not to break a bone of the Lord's body. The soldier didn't know he was under such a command, but God saw to it that he did not break the legs of Jesus. If the legs of Jesus had been broken, the Jews could have used this as an argument that Jesus could not have represented their Passover lamb down through the centuries because no bone of their Passover lamb could be broken. This was one of those identification marks that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews. However, this prophecy referred only to the bones of Jesus and not the rest of His body, for it was battered, bruised, punctured with nails and broken open with a spear.
In John 19:37 John quotes another prophecy fulfilled by the water and blood from he riven side of Jesus, "They shall look on him whom they pierced"(Zechariah 12:10). The complete prophecy reads like this, "And 1 will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication; and they shall look on me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and they shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." A similar prophecy is made in Zechariah 13:1, "In that day a fountain shall be opened up for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." Both prophecies were fulfilled in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when 3,000 Jews mourned in repentance and were cleansed and forgiven in baptism, in the fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins. That fountain was the blood which flowed from His side, pierced with a spear.
Finally, the water and blood mentioned in this passage has motivated hymn writers to produce some of our greatest hymns. One of those famous hymns is "Rock of Ages.." The first verse says, "Rock of ages, cleft for me; Let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, From thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power." I am afraid we have sung this hymn many times without understanding the words. What does it mean that Christ is the Rock of ages?. Christ the Rock of ages is a figurative expression. The song speaks of hiding ourselves in this Rock, and then the song connects the water and blood of Jesus as the way to hide in Christ by that blood cleansing us of two things, the guilt of sin and the power of sin. I don't think we have been singing this hymn with the spirit and understanding. The Rock in this hymn is a rock that has been cleft, making a hiding place in the rock for a person to hide. This hymn is based on the rock in Exodus 33:22 which Moses hid in to protect him from the glory and holiness of God when He walked by Moses. Moses hid in the cleft of that rock which is a split or hollow place. It was a hiding place, a place of protection because of the near presence of God. The hymn writer was expressing a marvelous truth by comparing Christ to a Rock in whom we can hide from the glory and holiness of God at the day of judgment. The hymn tells us how we hide in Christ, our Rock of protection by saying, "Let the water and the blood, from thy riven side which flowed, Be of the double cure, cleaning us from both the guilt and power of sin." It teaches that all people in the world need a hiding place. They need to hide from a righteous and holy God who gave them existence, in whom they lived and moved and had their being. They need a hiding place because of all the transgressions they have committed against their Creator God. The great truth of the hymn is that we Christians have found a hiding place from the wrath of God in Christ, through the water and blood that flowed from His riven side. This blood not only cleanses us of the guilt of sin but also the power of sin. Christ is our Rock, our hiding place, and He will protect us when we all appear before God. If you are not a Christian, you will have no hiding place from God on that day.
Thus the spear of the Roman soldier started the flowing of the most precious stream that ever existed in the universe. In it was fulfilled the prophetic words of Zechariah 13:1, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." And with that amazing circumstance in our minds, we sing the beautifully solemn words, "There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." This hymn makes a direct reference to the water and the blood which flowed from THE riven or cleft side of Christ