John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 19:32-33, Good Friday and the River of Life

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  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.

//While John’s Gospel has Jesus dying a day or two before Good Friday, today still seems like the most appropriate day to commemorate the death of Christ. Today’s verse has become very special to me in the last year. Here is what I wrote about this verse in my book about John’s Gospel:

Did blood and water really flow from Jesus’ side? Current medical study verifies the possibility. A substance that appears like water could flow from the pericardial sac around the heart. John insists that this really happened! He may have been so startled that it became, for him, another sign.

As with the son of perdition, it’s fascinating to note the “piercing” theme’s progression through the scriptures.  Psalm 22:16 tells of the wicked piercing “my” hands and feet. Zechariah 12:10 draws upon this verse, betraying its origin with its awkward first-person wording: “[T]hey shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and mourn for him” (emphasis added). Next, Revelation claims that every eye shall see Jesus when he returns, including “they also who pierced him.” There is, you will note, no reason yet to imagine that anything besides the hands and feet were pierced. But when John tells the story, he changes the piercing from the hands and feet to Jesus’ side! According to Bible scholar Raymond E. Brown, no other source within a hundred years of Jesus’ death mentions the wound in his side! Only John writes of this, and he swears it’s true. I cannot think of a single explanation for this reinterpretation except to say that the pierced side must have truly happened, and the flow of blood and water made an unforgettable impact.

This sign has become so real to me that I took the image as the title of my latest book: The River of Life. From the side of Jesus a river began to flow that day, which continues even into our age. This short little book (only about 80 pages) has found a different publisher, and hopefully will be available soon.

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