From the Pastor
I presided at George Briscoe’s funeral last week. We sang the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’. The first verse ends with “Let the water and the blood, from Thy riven side which flowed; Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.”
I understand how the blood of Jesus cleanses me from sin, but what about water that flows from his side? What is the deal there?
In John 19:33-34 we read “But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
The other gospels tell us nothing of this water at Jesus’ death. So why does John mention it? And does it mean anything?
At various points in Church history people have suggested that the water stands for the birth of the church, baptismal cleansing, or the Holy Spirit. Still others suggest it demonstrates Jesus was fully man (he bled) and God (water is somewhat more divine than blood?).
The spear used is also known as the holy lance, and you can go on a pilgrimage to visit this relic – it is preserved beneath the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome (apparently).
Isn’t it odd reading doctrines and thinking from church history that make no sense to us. I wonder, which parts of our theologising and ministry strategizing will other eras look back and ask – why in the world did they ever think that?
Reading church history gives us not only a sense of what they believed. It also gives us a lens through which to look at ourselves and the things that preoccupy us.