When the soldiers came to break the legs of the three hanging on the cross to finish them off, they found that Jesus was already dead.  They did not need to break his legs to accelerate the dying process, but John 19:34 tells us, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” Commentators have gone to great lengths to identify the symbolic meaning of the “blood and water” that flowed from Jesus’ side when pierced by the spear. Wiersbe suggests that blood and water illustrate two aspects of salvation: blood to atone for the guilt of sin and water to wash away the stain of sin. The blood speaks of justification, and the water of sanctification. The two must always go together, for those who have trusted the blood of Christ to save them should live clean lives before a watching world.  In this respect, others have said that the blood represents the sacrifice for sin, and the water represents the water of purification.

However, others see the water differently since, in John, water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The death of the Saviour means a life-giving flow: blood for the cleansing from sin and water for the representation of the new life in the Spirit. Some suggest it serves to fulfill Old Testament prophecies concerning the piercing of the Messiah. ( Ps 34:20; Zech 12:10).  Others suggest it refers to the healing power of Christ. The name of the soldier who pierced Christ’s side was Longinus. According to tradition, blood and water spattered his eyes, and he was immediately healed of “distemper” in his eyes. Much legend has been built around such fables, which involved searching for the Holy Grail & other notions of achieving eternal life.

Others see reference to the two ordinances of the Church. The Blood is symbolized during Communion with the cup of wine. The water signifies the water used in baptism. Dr. W. Stroud (Physical Cause of the Death of Christ ) argues that this fact proves that the spear pierced the left side of Jesus near the heart and that Jesus had died literally of a broken heart since blood was mixed with water. Dr. Stuart Bergsma agrees and says, “To the effect that blood and water flowing from a spear wound could have only come from a ruptured heart.”[1] Regardless of Blood & Water’s symbolic nature, never forget it was for you and Me! He didn’t swoon! He didn’t fake it! He indeed died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us, which he offers as a free gift to all who receive it by faith. We have been born again. Valerie Geer compares it to childbirth. She writes, “Blood and water came out of me also. My water broke, and amniotic fluid mixed with blood flowed out of my womb and down my legs. In pain and labor, with much toil, I brought forth a child. My own body was torn asunder in an episode of great suffering. This is the story of life. Life out of the blood and water that flowed mingled down. Life is born out of self-sacrifice. I am speaking of childbirth, yes, but even more, I am speaking of the redemption of humanity.”[2]

[1] Duffield, Guy P., and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave. 1983. Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. Los Angeles, CA: L.I.F.E. Bible College.

[2] Geer, Valerie. 2015. “Blood & Water Flowed: Becoming New through the Feminine Imagery of Redemption.” Mutuality Magazine, 2015.