What I found curious about the passage quoted above was the strength of John’s statement about the eyewitness to Christ’s death. John, who was the witness, testifies to the release of the water and blood, which people of that time would have understood to mean that the person had died. John asserts that “his testimony is true”. Why did John think it necessary to be so strong in his testimony, to do more than merely report that there was a release of both fluid and blood?
We hope you are keeping warm and dry. The weather forecaster promises this weekend will be warm and sunny. I am praying that it is so. I also hope that Punxsutawney Phil was mistaken about the weeks of winter still left! I am ready for spring.Throughout Church history, since the death and Resurrection of our Lord, thousands upon thousands of words have been written concerning the Passion and Death of Jesus. Bishop Fulton Sheen’s beautiful work, The Life of Christ, has always been meaningful to me. I cannot add to the Bishop’s words to explain the horror of Jesus’ death, or the overwhelming Love which led Jesus to willingly sacrifice His life for all of us.
John 19:34-35: “But when they came to Jesus and saw the He was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe.”Having been at my mother’s side as she passed from this life, the last part of verse 34 had new meaning to me – “blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side“. I came to understand during my mother’s last days that fluid builds up in our lungs, as our other organs begin to fail. We can no longer take in oxygen to sustain our lives, to keep our hearts beating. So when the soldier thrust his spear through the side of our Blessed Lord Jesus, piercing His lungs and then His Sacred Heart, fluid (water) from the lungs was released, as well as blood from His Sacred Heart.
From the Resurrection of our Lord to our own day, there have been “naysayers” – those who refuse to believe that Jesus died on the cross, or that He rose from the dead. The Gospel of Matthew, originally addressed to a mainly Jewish audience, reports in Chapter 28 that the leaders of the Temple sent a group of soldiers to watch Christ’s tomb. The Pharisees had remembered Jesus’ words that He would rise again. After Christ’s Resurrection and the soldiers testimony of the earthquake and the open tomb, the Pharisees bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body. Even today the popular novel and film, Da Vinci Code, imagines that Jesus’ had a life after the Crucifixion. Islam teaches that Jesus did not die in the Crucifixion.How can so many refuse to recognize the truth? Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, John wanted to be sure that people understood that Jesus had died, that there was no disputing the facts, and by understanding the truth, one could come to believe in Jesus. John the Apostle was present at the Crucifixion; he saw Jesus die; he affirms that he tells the truth of what he saw. In the days before photographic evidence, DNA testing, lie detectors or lawyer written contracts, a man’s word was his bond. A man’s word was as valuable to him as his life. What better proof could there be then, than the testimony of someone who was present at the death and crucifixion of Jesus? No doubt there will always be those who say that Jesus didn’t die, because the truth doesn’t fit the narrative that they are trying to sell. We have been so blessed, because we know the truth. We know the One who is Truth.
There was a beautiful hymn this week in the Magnificat, which I wanted to share with you. The hymn reminded me of one of Jesus last words: “I thirst”, and how in response to God’s thirst for us, we thirst for Him.
For God, the living God, I thirst.
Like dew upon the fleece come down.
Like rain upon the desert sand.
Like light into a darkened room.
As parched earth breaks for need of rain
So my heart breaks but not in vain.
When wilt thou on my vision burst?
For thee, my living God, I thirst.
Just a reminder that Chapter 19 is long – there are 25 questions to answer. They are not difficult questions, just a lot of them. Please don’t wait till Monday evening to begin. You would miss the beauty and peace of studying this chapter. You have all been so faithful in your study. We have only two more chapters after this one. We will have completed this study of the Gospel of John – just a little more time and effort until we can all take a break and have a well deserved celebration. Remember that you can call Karen or me if you have questions about the lesson.
We look forward to seeing you all again on Tuesday. May God bless you as you read and answer the questions in this chapter.
Karen and Franciene