We’ve been chewing on something puzzling that the Apostle John said about Jesus:
“This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.” (1 John 5:6 a)
NOTE – The previous post dealt what John meant about “water.” If you haven’t read it, click on this link – All the Way – Part 1. Hopefully, this second part about blood will make more sense.
When John said Jesus came “by water and blood,” he meant Jesus came all the way – all the way TO you and FOR you.
Every week in the summer, out here in the Rockies, people find themselves stuck after climbing half-way up cliffs. They cling desperately to the rock face, helplessly waiting for a rescue. If someone came all the way down the cliff to stand next to them, they would feel so much better. (This is the “water” part) But feeling better wouldn’t be enough. What they really need is for that person to do whatever is necessary to get them all the way out to safety.
That Jesus came by water means that He came all the way TO you. That He also came by blood means He came all the way FOR you, as well – He came to do everything necessary to rescue you all the way. Your rescue from sin, and from ultimate death, cannot be completed without blood. His blood.
Why blood? Why did God require a blood sacrifice before He could forgive you, wipe your slate clean forever and connect you to His Spirit? Perhaps you have heard several explanations about why the Cross was necessary. If you are like me, you “sort of get it,” but there are still lingering questions. I believe those lingering questions remain because human explanations cannot completely encompass the wisdom and understanding of God. If you ask a software engineer to describe what he or she does for a living, they will struggle to explain it to you in terms that make sense. If you ask an advanced physicist and mathematician to explain string theory, chances are you will only have a vague notion about what they say. Human understanding strains to comprehend such things. God knows software and string theory like you know how to tie your shoes.
God helped his people grasp the concept – that blood is required for forgiveness and reconciliation – by teaching them to act it out symbolically, by sacrificing an unblemished animal. When Jesus sacrificed His own, perfect and sinless life, they “sort of got it” – some of them – but not fully. Neither do I.
But I do get this: Almighty God, Who is characterized by love and grace, would never have required His own Son’s blood on my behalf if there was any other way. He told His people it was going to happen:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
And Jesus made very clear that it had to happen:
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46-47)
Good enough for me. Bottom line, Jesus came all the way; He came all the way to me in the water and He came all the way for me by His blood. I wish I understood it completely. For now, I “sort of get it” and that will have to do.
Stay tuned – there’s a bit more to this…