John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 19:34, Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

//I find this to be an absolutely fascinating verse. Not because of the “blood and water” that escaped from Jesus’ body after his death; this may have been startling to John, but it is hardly anything miraculous. Current medical study verifies the possibility of blood and water. A substance that appears like water could flow from the pericardial sac around the heart.

No, I find it fascinating because this wasn’t what was supposed to happen. To me, it provides evidence of eyewitness testimony. Follow with me the “piercing” theme’s progression through the scripture:

Psalm 22:16 tells of the wicked piercing “my” hands and feet. Then Zechariah 12:10 draws upon this verse, betraying its origin with its awkward mix of first-person and third-person wording: “They 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 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!

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. –John 19:35-36

I cannot think of a single explanation for this reinterpretation of scripture except to say that the pierced side must have truly happened, was actually witnessed, and the flow of blood and water made an unforgettable impact.

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