BLOOD AND WATER OF THE CROSS
by Pastor Martha-Jean Fitch
April 2, 2017
TEXT: John 19:31-37
I recently started giving blood again. I have not given blood for about the last 2 years due to health reasons - but now I am giving about every 2 months. Have any of you ever been blood donors? I must admit it really gives me a good feeling, knowing that I am able to help someone in need. I recently found out that there are some 40,000 pints of blood needed every day in America. In fact, it has been estimated that every 2 seconds someone in the United States needs blood!
The national blood supply must cover every day needs and unexpected disasters. Giving blood regularly ensures that there is an available supply for whenever and wherever it is needed. It isn't just for accident victims - but is for people being treated for things like cancer - or people having hip replacements or different heart or blood disorders. 1
And you know what is so amazing? One pint of blood is able to help save 3 people! But something even more amazing is that the one drop of blood from Jesus saves the world, once for all time!!
During Lent one year, an Oklahoma Red Cross had the following poster, promoting a blood drive. The words said:
''I gave my blood. - Christ gave His.
I give a pint. - He gave all.
The needle is small, sharp. -The nails were large, dull.
The table soft, restful. - The cross rough, painful.
The nurses -- kind, gentle. - The soldier -- cruel, mean.
The crowd applauds my sacrifice. ''They that passed by reviled him.''
Mine, is for O Positive. His, for positively all.
Mine, at best, will prolong a Life FOR A WHILE.
His, without doubt, can save ALL forever.''2
There is power in the blood of Jesus! That's the good news of the cross - of Jesus dying for us! Jesus shed His blood - He died so that we might live!
From the beginning of Genesis all the way to Revelation, blood has been a major part of the story of God redeeming His people. In Genesis 3, we hear about Adam and Eve sinning and turning against God. They discovered that they were naked there in the Garden of Eden and they hid from God in their shame. God then sacrificed an animal - in the shedding of the blood - and provided skins to cover their nakedness.
And then in the days of Noah, there was a great wickedness and God was sorry that He had created people. So, He caused a flood to cover the earth - and only Noah and his family, the righteous ones, survived. When Noah got out of the ark, after 40 days, what was the first thing He did? He took some of those animals and sacrificed them to God - he shed their blood as an offering to God.
Again, and again you find throughout Scripture that there can be no forgiveness of sins, without the shedding of blood. (Hebrews 9:22) Hebrews 9:18-22 tells us that the "first covenant" was put into effect through the shedding of blood AND water. It tells us how:
"After Moses had read each of God's commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God's law and all the people - the Tabernacle and everything used for worship - (with the blood) -
confirming the covenant God has made with you."
The shedding of blood continued again and again - priests sacrificing animals for the forgiveness of sins. Every time people sinned, they were required to offer up a blood sacrifice. Day after day, sacrifices of the blood of a bull or a goat - and even doves - were offered up to God to try to secure God's forgiveness. And these sacrifices cost the life - and the blood - of an innocent animal to pay for their sins.
And then on days like the feast of Passover - people would be reminded of that first Passover, when an innocent lamb was slaughtered and its blood was smeared on the doorposts of every Israelite in Egypt, to save them when death "passed over". Every year, they would remember that first Passover - and ask for the forgiveness of sins and pray that God would deal with death's power and give life. The gates of the Temple would open at 9 in the morning and not close until 3pm and sacrifice after sacrifice was offered up to God. Families would acquire lambs - perfect lambs without blemish, and without legs that were broken - and give them to the priests to sacrifice in the Temple. All to remind people of their sins and to try and secure the forgiveness of God. (Exodus 12:46)
But these sacrifices offered again and again every year could never take away sins. It was only through the single sacrifice by our great High Priest - offered by Jesus Himself on the cross - that we are truly forgiven of our sins once for all. (Hebrews 10:11-12)
Jesus was described by John the Baptist, in the gospel of John as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Let's look at the end of the Gospel of John, John 19, and see how this perfect Lamb of God poured out His love for us - securing our redemption forever.
Let's read John 19:31-37 - and see what happened on the cross - the day Jesus died.
31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn't want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So, they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus.33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn't break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.]) 36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, "Not one of his bones will be broken," 37 and "They will look on the one they pierced."
The disciple John, who wrote this Gospel, was an eyewitness to all the events that took place when Jesus died on the cross. He saw the torture - he heard the cries of Jesus - he gave us an accurate account. This particular part about Jesus' death is not recorded anywhere else in the Bible. But I think John knew it was an important detail that we needed to hear so that we could continue to believe. What is it that he really wanted us to hear?
First, as William Barclay shared, I think it was for us to have proof that Jesus was a real man with a real body - and that He really died.3 There were some, during the day of John - and even some today - who believed that Jesus really didn't die. I actually read some articles on the internet of people who believe that Jesus was just in a coma on the cross - and that when He was buried in the tomb, He regained consciousness. Or that Joseph of Arimethea knew exactly what to do to revive Jesus after He came down off of the cross. John, when writing to His day and age, had people who believed that before Jesus went to the cross, His Spirit left Him and He went on to heaven and never suffered. They didn't believe that Jesus Christ really bled and died!
But we know in fact He DID bleed! John, along with the other gospel writers confirm that Jesus indeed did bleed!
In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed so hard about His upcoming crucifixion, that He literally sweated drops of blood.
Temple guards spit in His face and hit Him with their fists and slapped Him after He was arrested - and then Pilate eventually had him beaten with whips - whips embedded with bits of glass and lead and bone chips that bit into His skin and tore into His muscles. And His blood was shed.
Then those same soldiers mocked Him and placed a crown of long, sharp thorns upon His head and pushed it down until it drew blood.
Later - at Calvary - the soldiers drove nails in His hands and drove another nail through His feet. And His blood was shed.
And finally, when He died a Roman soldier pushed a spear into His side.
Did Jesus bleed - did He really die? Yes - indeed He did! He knew what it was like to suffer and to die! It was proof John wanted us to know.
But there was more. This brief account of Jesus on the cross was proof He was the Messiah. For in this action of the spear going into His side - the prophecies spoken about Him centuries before were fulfilled. Remember how the Passover lamb that was sacrificed was NOT to have its legs broken (Numbers 9:12 and Exodus 12:46) - and in Zechariah 12:10 - it is prophesied that when God pours out a spirit of grace on the people, they will look on the one they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. Jesus is who He said He was - the only Son of God - and the perfect Lamb of God.
But there is still yet more about this passage about the blood and the water that poured out of the side of Jesus. Remember how I said that the first covenant was established by Moses when he took the blood of the lamb AND the water and sprinkled it on the people, establishing the old covenant? Well now - with the blood and the water that poured out from Jesus, the new covenant was established! Jesus poured Himself out to God as a single sacrifice for sins - good for all time - once for all!
And Pastor Jeff Strite shares one more thing that is just amazing to note. He says: "When Jesus died on the cross, He was placed on the cross at 9:00 in the morning and He died at 3am in the afternoon."4 At the Temple, the first sacrifice was made at what time? 9am - and the last sacrifice was offered at what time? 3pm!!
Passover was a major day of sacrifice. People were lined up around the block to offer their lambs and other sacrifices to God. John McArthur tells us that "historical records of Jesus' time indicate that as many as a quarter-million lambs were slain in a typical Passover season, requiring hundreds of priests to carry out the task."5 Just think about that - think about how much blood there would be with 250,000 lambs! There would be blood all over the altar, the floors and all the utensils. How do you think they removed all that blood? Well, they developed a technique where they would pump water up from underneath the Temple and they used this water to wash down the altar, the utensils and the floor. But where did all that liquid go? Well, they had drains from the altar area in the Temple that would pour out through pipes down to the Kidron Valley - just outside the Temple Mount walls.
The Kidron Valley is a valley between the Temple and the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus walked through this valley - on the night before his crucifixion - when he went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Now think about this - on that day of Passover - when all the blood of the lambs were being sacrificed throughout the day - if you had been standing outside the walls of Jerusalem about 3:00 in the afternoon - what do you think you would have seen coming out of the pipes? Blood AND water!!
And at 3:00pm - on a hill called Golgotha - a centurion takes a spear and thrusts it into the side of Jesus to make sure He was dead - and what came out? BLOOD AND WATER!
Truly - this is the Son of God - the Messiah - the true Passover Lamb who died for us! His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. The blood and the water that came from His side cleanses us - washes away all the dirt and the grime that is in our lives. This is the good news that gives us victory and hope! This is truly what real love is.
I John 4 and 5 tells us that "This is real love - not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (4:10) "And Jesus Christ was revealed as God's Son by His baptism in water and by shedding His blood on the cross - not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is confirms it with His testimony. So, we have these three witnesses: the Spirit, the water and the blood - and all three agree. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son."
The water and the blood were poured out for you and for me! There is nothing but the blood that can truly wash away our sins - only the precious blood and water of Jesus - that makes us white as snow!
In his book Written in Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister." Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube. With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. "Doctor, when do I die?'
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He's thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision.6
Johnny, fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition more serious than Mary's. We are dying in our sins - and there is only one blood type that could save us. And that is the blood of Jesus. Jesus poured it out completely to give us life. He suffered for our sins - once for all time. He never sinned - but He died for each and every one of us sinners to bring us home to God. (I Peter 3:18) Truly that is the best blood donation ever!!
This morning, we want to give you an opportunity to receive a blood donation. The donor is Jesus. His blood type is a universal donor. He allowed His blood to be taken away so you could have life for yourself.
Can you come today to accept that blood donation? Can you come to confess your sins and thank Him for forgiving you of your sins and giving you eternal life? Jesus wants to be in relationship with you - He died to bridge that gap between you and God and bring you home. Won't you come and accept His invitation?
Today is the day for you to make a decision for Christ. Won't you come now as we stand and sing - and we will rejoice with you in your decision.
2Jeff Strite, "The Wonder of Jesus' Crucifixion", www.sermoncentral.com
3William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible - The Gospel of John, vol. 2, Westminster Press, 1956, page 304.
4Strite, The Wonder of Jesus' Crucifixion.
5 "Gethsemane and the Kidron Valley. Quoting John MacArthur, writing in Experiencing the Passion. http://www.entrustingfaithfulmen.com/?p=17
6 Thomas Lindberg. www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/1429/blood-transfusion/ An illustration from a book by Robert E. Coleman. Written in Blood: A Devotional Bible Study of the Blood of Christ. Fleming H. Revell Company, 1972.