As we meditate of the death of the Lord Jesus, as we consider what He has done for His people in this glorious substitutionary sacrifice, one of the things we may reflect on with profit is how many times Scripture juxtaposes blood and water, and on the different ways it does so.
One of the incentives God used on the Egyptians was through turning their great river of water into blood. “There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt” (Ex. 7:21). And in the cleansing of a house using the sacrifice of two birds, the living bird was dipped into the blood of the slain bird, and in running water (Lev. 14:51). Blood and water went together in the sacrificial system, as the book of Hebrews observes.
“For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people” (Heb. 9:19).
Israelites were prohibited from eating the blood of animals they killed. “Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.” (Deut. 15:23; 12:16).
Most strikingly, when Pilate saw that the tumultuous crowd was getting away from him, what did he do? What did he most famously do?
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matt. 27:24).
We see that the scriptural theme of water and blood should not be assumed to be insignificant. But we sometimes do overlook it. In fact, when we come to the dispute over what is called the Johannine comma, we can easily overlook how odd the verses surrounding the comma are. Here is that passage from the ESV, which leaves out the explicitly Trinitarian phrase (which, incidentally, I would not exclude). But what is left? What is undisputed? What is left as the witness on earth, or the only witness mentioned, as the case may be?
“This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” (1 John 5:6–8, ESV).
What is this referring to? John himself wrote the gospel which contains the source of this cryptic observation.
“But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe” (John 19:33–35).
John clearly believes that what he saw there is very important. The one who was pierced with a spear was “dead already.” When He was pierced, blood and water came out of his side. John bears record. He emphasizes that his record is true. And he knows that what he is saying is true, and why is this important? So that you might believe. That water and blood came out of Jesus’ side is told to us so that it would be possible to believe. Plenty have heard about this, however, without believing. What is missing? Go back to the epistle of John—there are three witnesses: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. And what does the Spirit say? The Spirit testifies in 1 John 5 and John himself testifies in John 19 (same word).
When Adam was laid into a death-like sleep, God was preparing to present him with a bride. Adam “died,” and God removed a bloody rib from his side in order to fashion our first mother.
When Jesus died, His bride was removed from His side as well. His bride came out, not in the form of a rib, but in the form of water and blood. The rib, if you must have one, would be the spear. Adam was laid down in a Paradise, and Christ was raised up on Skull Hill. Adam was at peace, and the great Son of Man was at war. Adam was placed where he was by the direct agency of God. Christ was placed on the cross by the direct agency of Satan, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the leaders of the Jews, but under the ultimate sovereignty of Almighty God.
“For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27–28).
The first was a gift of life in a world full of life, while the latter was a gift of life in world full of death.
But despite the differences, there was one profound similarity. Christ came as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). The first Adam was a type of the one who was to come (Rom. 5:14), obviously another Adam. Adam and Eve had plunged our world into sin, and only an Adam (and an Eve) could get it out again.
And where must the first bride come from? From the side of her husband. In this case, her creation was possible because her husband had laid down his life for her. The Lord Jesus was dead. Her creation was possible because sinful men rammed a spear into a dead Savior. Her creation was possible because water and blood came out together. John was there, and he swears to it. The Spirit was there, and He testifies as well. He testifies to the water and blood so that you might believe.
What happens when you believe? This is Good Friday. We commemorate the death of the only good man, and that death was for our sin, not His. When we believe that, when we accept that, when we trust in that, we are incorporated into the bride of Christ, united to Him by faith, and sealed in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God fashioned a woman out of a rib. He built a bride out of what came from Adam’s side. In the same way, whenever any sinner repents and believes, do you know what God is doing? He is fashioning the new Eve, without any spot or blemish, or any such thing.