Water, Blood, and Spirit...That's the Thing
The temple curtain is torn in two. The earth shakes. The rock splits. The tomb opens. The dead get up and go home. All signs that Jesus' death is no small thing. At the same time, John writes, "one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus' side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out" (John 19:34).
John was a witness, which is why he writes again years later, "This Son of God is Jesus Christ, who came by water and blood. He didn't come with water only, but with water and with blood" (1 John 5:6). John writes this so that we believe.
But, what are we supposed to believe about the blood and water? What do they point to? The blood that pours out of Jesus' side points to forgiveness and eternal life. That's the point of Old and New Testaments. Jesus' blood must be poured out so the world may be won back from sin, death, and Satan.
The prophet Zechariah records the Lord's promise, that: "I will set your captives free from the waterless pit because of the blood that sealed my promise to you" (Zech. 9:11). Paul writes to the Roman churches that, "They receive God's approval freely by an act of his kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free from sin. God showed that Christ is the throne of mercy, where God's approval is given through faith in Christ's blood. In his patience, God waited to deal with sins committed in the past" (Rom. 3:21-26). Paul repeats himself in a letter to the Ephesian churches, that, "Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness" (Eph. 1:7).
God says that without a blood sacrifice, nobody's sin is forgiven. That's the law. That's why Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. His blood sacrifice covers all sin.
The water that pours out is the Holy Spirit. He washes and covers us each day with God's Word. Why? Because even though we're Baptized, we're still flesh and bones. We're still selfish. We still fight against the Spirit. We're still friendly toward temptation, and Satan's sugar-coated lies. That's why it's necessary that God's Spirit wash and cover our sin every day.
Whoever wants to be free must first be pulled out of the pit, as Martin Luther noted. Then, he must be washed, cleaned up, and given a new set of clothes. Baptism clothes us in Christ Jesus. The blood gives us pardon and peace. The water and blood do all this through God's Word and Spirit. The blood is grace. The water is a gift.
Through this gift, we're protected from sin, death, and Satan. The Holy Spirit keeps us in faith and pours us out into the world so others may also hear and believe.
When we enter into battle against sin, death, and Satan, it's the water and the blood that protects us. It's the water and the blood that give us the victory. Jesus' suffering, death, blood, and water win the battle for us today and always.