What Does the Blood and Water that Came Out of Jesus’ Pierced Side Mean?

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In the New Testament, each of the Gospels gives an account of the crucifixion of Jesus. But John 19 records details that don’t appear in the other three accounts. This chapter tells us that the legs of the thieves being crucified next to Jesus were broken by the Roman soldiers in order to hasten their deaths. Then John 19:33-34 says:

“But coming to Jesus, when they saw that He had already died, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”

Why is the Gospel of John unique in recording these details of Jesus’ side being pierced and blood and water flowing out? Is there some special significance?

The subject of the Gospel of John

To answer this question, we first need to see the subject of John’s Gospel. 

The New Testament Recovery Version provides the subject for every book. This includes the four Gospels, each of which presents a different aspect of the Lord Jesus:

  • Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom—Proving That Jesus Christ Is the King-Savior
  • Mark: The Gospel of God—Proving that Jesus Christ Is the Slave-Savior
  • Luke: The Gospel of the Forgiveness of Sins—Proving that Jesus Christ Is the Man-Savior
  • John: The Gospel of Life—Proving that Jesus Christ Is God the Savior Coming as Life to Propagate Himself

The emphasis of the Gospel of John is life. When we consider the details in John’s account of the Lord’s crucifixion, we have to keep that emphasis in mind.

Figures in John

Spiritual realities are profound and hard to understand. So John includes signs, or figures, in his Gospel such as the Lamb of God, the living water, and the vine to communicate profound spiritual realities to us. These figures impress us in a way that words alone can’t.

This is also true of the blood and the water that came out from Jesus’ side.

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The figure of blood and water

So what spiritual reality does the blood and water from the Lord’s pierced side reveal?

Note 1 on blood and water in John 19:34 in the New Testament Recovery Version gives us great insight. Let’s look at some portions of this lengthy note. 

The first section says:

“Two substances came out of the Lord’s pierced side: blood and water. Blood is for redemption, to deal with sins (1:29; Heb. 9:22) for the purchasing of the church (Acts 20:28). Water is for imparting life, to deal with death (12:24; 3:14-15) for the producing of the church (Eph. 5:29-30). The Lord’s death, on the negative side, takes away our sins, and on the positive side, imparts life into us. Hence, it has two aspects: the redemptive aspect and the life-imparting aspect. The redemptive aspect is for the life-imparting aspect. The record of the other three Gospels portrays only the redemptive aspect of the Lord’s death; John’s record portrays not only the redemptive aspect but also the life-imparting aspect.”

Every single human being needs both redemption—signified by the blood—and life—signified by the water—because before God, we’re not only sinful but also dead

We need the forgiveness of our sins, and we also need the divine life of God. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we can have both. 

Because Jesus shed His blood for us, we can be forgiven of all our sins. We can never praise and thank Him enough for the redemptive aspect of His death. But His redemption was for the purpose of imparting His divine life into us.

Jesus’ death also released the divine life

Let’s read another section of the same note:

“But the flowing water and the unbroken bone mentioned by John in vv. 34 and 36 are signs that relate to the life-imparting aspect of the Lord’s death (see note 261). This death that imparts life released the Lord’s divine life from within Him for the producing of the church, which is composed of all His believers, into whom His divine life has been imparted.”

Let’s first focus on this sentence from the note: This death that imparts life released the Lord’s divine life from within Him

To understand what this means, let’s read what Jesus said in John 12:24:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

In this verse, Jesus likened Himself to a grain of wheat that would fall into the ground and die. A grain of wheat is a seed. Inside the shell of a seed is a life force, a life element. But as long as the seed remains whole, the life within it is confined to that single seed. It must fall into the ground and “die” so its outer shell can be broken open. This is how the life in the seed is released so that it can bear fruit for its propagation, or increase.

In the same way, the divine Son of God became a man of flesh and blood named Jesus. Jesus was both divine and human, but His divine life was confined within the “shell” of His humanity.

According to His original intention for mankind, God desires us to receive His life. For this to happen, the divine life in Jesus had to be released from within the shell of His humanity, which occurred when Jesus died on the cross. Through His death, divine life was released!

Now that divine life can be imparted to all who believe in Jesus. When we’re saved, we who were dead sinners experience the blood and the water: we’re cleansed of our sins and we receive the divine life. 

As the note also points out, this life that’s imparted into us is for the producing of the church. The church is an entity of life. It’s composed of all the believers in Christ into whom the divine life has been imparted. 

Two fountains

Now let’s read the last section of the note:

“The Lord’s pierced side was prefigured by Adam’s opened side, out from which Eve was produced (Gen. 2:21-23). The blood was typified by the blood of the passover lamb (Exo. 12:7, 22; Rev. 12:11), and the water was typified by the water that flowed out of the smitten rock (Exo. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:4). The blood formed a fountain for the washing away of sin (Zech. 13:1), and the water became the fountain of life (Psa. 36:9; Rev. 21:6).”

Jesus’ death opened two fountains to meet all our needs: a fountain for washing away our sins and a fountain of life. 

Zechariah 13:1 says:

“In that day there will be an opened fountain for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.”

And Psalm 36:9 says: 

“For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

We can be washed at the fountain for sin by confessing any sin we commit. And we can receive the divine life by continually coming to the Lord as the fountain of life to drink of Him. We can forever enjoy the provision of these two fountains.

Praise the Lord for His redeeming and life-imparting death, for the blood and the water!

We could only briefly discuss here the profound meaning of the blood and water that came out of the Lord’s pierced side. And the note we looked at today includes another section on the redemptive aspect of the Lord’s death.

We strongly encourage you to order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version if you live in the United States. You can read the entire note with its reference verses to gain a deeper understanding of this marvelous sign.