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The Water and the Blood


The Water and the Blood

Text 1 John 5:6-8. 6
What does John mean by ‘ Water and Blood?’ There are four possibilities:

1. The Wounded Side of Christ.
Some have thought that the water and blood referred to here, might be the substance that poured forth from Christ’s wounded side on the cross. Read John 19:33-37
So, is the testimony to the sonship of Christ the fact that he died on the cross, and in so doing fulfilled all the Old Testament messianic prophesies? John makes it clear that he was an eyewitness of these matters, and it is not unreasonable to assume that he might be reminding the believers of what he saw with his own eyes. Jesus really died, – died an atoning death for sinners. John was a witness, could himself bear testimony to those diving prophesies being fulfilled as Jesus died on the cross, and he know and could testify to the fact of Christ’s death. he saw our atonement, our salvation, being purchased.

2. The Sacraments.
This explanation was much favoured by the reformers. You can see how they might think that. They would think that water indicated baptism, and blood indicated communion, and they would argue that the sacraments were the ongoing witness to Christ in the church, from they were instated by him, right until the day when he returns in glory to take his people home, and to usher in the final judgement of the lost. Thus we have a continuing witness, a constant testimony of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
In Baptism, we are reminded that he has cleansed us, and brought us within the covenant community, – it is an intiatory symbol, of the once for all atonement and cleansing of our souls.

Please read the Heidelberg Catechism: LORD’S DAY 26 Q/A 69 and LORD’S DAY 27. Q/A 72.

In Communion, the Lord’s Supper, we are drawn back time and again, on a regular basis, to be reminded of the blood of Christ, that was shed for us on the cross, and of his broken body, marred and wounded and hung on a cruel tree to suffer the punishment that was due to our sins.

Please read H/C LORD’S DAY 28 Q/A 75. Read Isaiah 53:4-6

Certainly, the sacraments of the church are a continuing witness to the person of Christ, and as sure as we take the physical signs, we also by faith take the reality, the thing signified. But there is a problem, and we must not ignore it. If John had intended us to understand water and blood as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, why did he omit the bread? Why just the one element? Certainly the life is in the blood, but Christ has commanded us to remember his broken body as well as his shed blood. Then…

3. The Baptism and Death of Christ.
This is a widely held view – the view that this statement is an apologetic against the gnostic error. John is showing that the effective witness to the ministry, life and death of Christ as the Son of God, (Very God of Very God) is the historical fact of his baptism and his death. He calls upon those two dramatic events in the life of Christ, to witness to who Jesus really is – the Son of God.
What would the water say, in witness to what happened do you think? It would tell the events of that day at Jordan! Matthew 3:13-17,
What a strange, but powerful testimony – but John is not yet finished! He calls as his next witness, the very blood of Christ himself! And the blood testifies of his death, and says, “That day at the cross, I flowed freely from the wounds of the Saviour, I ran freely down his face from the wounds of the crown of thorns, I lured from his back and his body where the cruel lashes had stripped away his flesh, and finally I lured out of his side, and having so flowed out from the saviour, I then cleansed the heart of every sinner who every trusted in him for mercy and forgiveness, and I will preserve them until they arrive home in heaven, – washed in the blood of the lamb. Revelation 7:14 …And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

4. The Cleansing of the Believer.
There is one final possibility, and in it we find a great deal of application for the Christian; the possibility that the witness to the person and the Sonship of Christ is a personal one, that it is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
Water represents the cleansing effect of the Word of God on the life of the believer. Ephesians 5:25 The application of the word to us has a washing effect, like water for to cleanse the soul?
Blood, referring of course to the work of the blood of Christ, in cleansing us from our sins. John has already declared that this is so. 1 John 1:7
So, there would be a divine synergy here, the Word of God bringing conviction, entering and piecing into the hearts of unbelief and sin, and revealing to us that we are guilty and lost and utter sinful wretches, and pointing us to Christ who died to save us, Hebrews 4:12, Having been convicted by the preaching and entry of the word of God, the sinner admits his need, confesses his sin and is forgiven, because the blood of Christ, shed at the cross washes him from his sin. And the application of both those factors to the heart of the believer is the work of the Holy Spirit.
So, we have four possibilities, all held by evangelical, reformed theologians, – and there is no doubt left among John’s readers that he is reinforcing in our hearts and minds that Jesus is the son of God, and he is our Saviour. This is He!

© Bob McEvoy

From → 1st John

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