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John 19:34 "one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."

I know this is supposed to be something great as in the next verse the apostle tries to ensure us just how true this is -

John 19:34 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.

What is so significant about this? Is it symbolic of something?

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Actually, the blood and water together is a sign of pleural effusion. –  user4231 Mar 26 '13 at 19:58
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Water flowing from the Rock, a the anti-type of Exo. 17:6? Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Mar 26 '13 at 22:41
    
Whoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. –  user10605 Mar 31 at 3:41

11 Answers 11

Mason and Dan have both noted the literal significance of the blood/water issue. It was a medical indication that A) he was dead and B) he didn't die as the direct result of the crucifixion.

On practical thing we can note from this is that Jesus was in control of things right up to the end. We know from Scripture that nobody forced Jesus's life from him, he gave it up willingly. This is rightly applied to Jesus' willing submission to his captors, even stopping his disciples from fighting his arrest. However, we see this is true all the way to the end, when it is Jesus who surrenders himself to his Father and lets go of his own life rather than the physical reality of the cross actually taking his life.

Luke 23:46 (ESV)
46  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Another practical result that came out of the deal was that finding him already dead at such an early time frame, they did not go on to break his legs to induce a quick death by suffocation as would have been required otherwise.

Thus, something that was said about him in the OT that could have been understood figuratively, also literally happened in spite of the odds.

Psalm 34:20 (ESV)
He keeps all his bones;
   not one of them is broken.

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+1 Your last point was what was missing from the other answers. I believe to be very important. The significance is that it fulfills the prophesies about Him. –  treehau5 Aug 7 '12 at 20:40
    
@treehau5: I agree it's important, but in studying that Psalm for this answer I found it's not quite as simple as that. You might note I didn't call that out as a Mesinic prophecy because ... well ... it isn't exactly. It's a promise God makes to all of a certain class of people, part of a covenant he has with them. John later uses this and combines it with this item on the cross and shows us that Jesus was one of that class and that God kept his promise to him. Since our end of the covenant has been upheld in Christ we are also assured that God's promises to us will be met. –  Caleb Aug 7 '12 at 21:51
    
Sorry if I am misinterpreting, but which class are you referring to? The sacrificial lamb class because there's only one of those!There are a couple of other scriptures that tie in with Psalm 34:20. Take a look at Ex 12:46, and Num 9:12, you see when they are partaking in Pascha, "none of the bones must be broken" Finally, Zech 12:10 "They will look on me, the one they have pierced" You certainly have the knowledge of the Good Book to put the rest of those metaphors together :) –  treehau5 Aug 8 '12 at 2:59

I don't know of any symbolic importance of this, beyond the obvious: this is very unusual! Blood is blood, water is water, and they don't show up together inside the human body. When was the last time you saw someone bleed like that?

What's interesting is that such a condition is actually quite consistent with modern medical knowledge, under a very specific set of circumstances: this sounds a lot like a cardiac rupture. Intense and prolonged emotional and physical stress can cause the heart to rupture, which brings a very fast death and causes other fluids around the heart to mix with the blood, which are much thinner and less colorful. If the soldier's spear went in at the right place, it could have let this mixture out, which would have appeared to be "blood mixed with water" to an observer.

This is not how a person being crucified usually died, by the way. Crucifixion was a long, slow torment that eventually ended in gradual death by exhaustion. Someone who was only a few hours in crying out with a loud voice and then suddenly expiring was quite out of the ordinary! John's point here seems to be that, while Jesus died on the cross, he did not die of the cross. Instead, as he had claimed earlier on in his ministry, he had life in himself, and he had the power to lay it down and to take it up again, and no one would take his life from him.

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It's not unusual when you're dead! –  Matt Jul 29 '13 at 23:29

It is a sign that a person is dead. When the blood separates, only water would come out. The testimony is just to say that when he said that Jesus was dead, he was really dead.

I found this information too:

There came out blood and water ... There has to be some element of the miraculous in this. Naturalistic explanations have some plausibility, as for example that of Dr. Stroud quoted by Westcott, who supposed that "the blood rapidly separated into its more solid and liquid parts, which flowed forth in a mingled stream." But the trouble with that explanation is that blood serum is not water; and there is also the time factor, there having been insufficient time for such a separation to have taken place. In addition, as Westcott pointed out, "the separation of the blood into its constituent parts is a process of corruption." The Father did not permit the Holy One to see corruption (Psalms 16:10 ).

You can also find more information about what happens to blood when we die here

First, the blood separates into the solids and the fluids. If you were to puncture someone who had been dead what would come out would be watery (thus the reason the soldiers punctured the side of those crucified to test if they were dead yet -- if you got "water" instead of blood the person had died). Eventually, as the body decompses (assuming no mortuary's involved) the fluids would evaporate.

Read more: What happens to the blood in our body when we die? | Answerbag http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/169882#ixzz22t6cDysy

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Matthew Henry, in his ('Complete') commentary on John 19:31-37, says that the blood and water, which both had important meaning in the law, represented justification and sanctification.

"...blood for remission, water for regeneration; blood for atonement, water for purification."

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In addition to the heretofore mentioned physiological significance, Catholic Tradition says that this also signifies baptism (water) and Eucharist (blood). This position (and much besides) can be found here.

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I realize that this answer is a "stub", but the information in the link, to me, requires its own answer. If someone were to create an answer which included that information with this fact, I would gladly delete this answer. –  Ignatius Theophorus Aug 8 '12 at 7:11

When Eve (the church) was created (born) ' God pierced Adam's side and Eve was born. When The side of Jesus was pierced the Church was born.

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This is interesting, but the community here prefers longer answers. Please see Guidelines for writing effective answers and What is a well-sourced, dispassionate answer? After that, please edit this post to expand on it and maybe add a source or two. I hope to see you post again soon. –  fredsbend 3 hours ago

Just as Adams rib was taken from his side to create Eve, so has the blood and water, which represents the sacrifice of his life for ours and the washing away of sins and forgiveness for eternal life, from Jesus side to create eternal life for us. Although death will try and pierce us it will not hurt or have power over us because Christ has already paid the price and so have we if we have made him lord. A few more scriptures that also relate... (Deut. 12:16 (NASB) Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water.Deut. 12:23 (NASB) Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh.) You lay down your life as Jesus did for God. The flesh can not inherit eternal life . The sacrifice of fleshy ways to grow spiritually is laying down your life for God. Because Jesus was pirced and blood and water came out it also showed prof that he gave up his life before they tried to kill him. Like Jesus laid down his life before he died for you and became Christ so should you to show yourself aproved before God. You may not be perfect and you dont have to literally lay down your life because Christ already has but if you want Gods favor make Christ your lord by using Jesus as an example of how you should live your life.

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The redeeming blood and regenerating water that sustain the believers in Christ. We are kept by the water of God's word and cleansed from sin by the power of Jesus blood.

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Welcome to the site. As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page, How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Oct 27 '13 at 17:37
    
Welcome to the site! While I agree with you, there will be many who will want to know why you can say that the blood is redemption (hint: there are verses to show this) and why the water is regenerating (hint: there are verses to show this). We look for sourced claims and the "Why" and "Prove it!" here, more so than just the what. –  Affable Geek Oct 28 '13 at 13:36

I agree that the blood signifies redemption from sins, the ultimate sacrifice to bring mankind back to God. The water reminds me of the new life available in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which ties in with the scripture where Jesus told the Samaritan woman John 4 vs 10 0 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

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Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. As it is, this sounds more like a comment than an answer. This has the beginnings of a good answer, but really needs some supporting evidence. –  Affable Geek Jan 7 at 18:22

It relates to Jesus claim that He would 'rebuild the Temple', meaning He would become the new temple, the place of right worship, and Ezekiel's prophecy that when the temple had been cleansed, water would flow from its side. It signifies that Ezekiel's prophecy had been fulfilled.

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This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Apr 14 at 4:08

The Water and Blood represent the two great Sacraments of the Church, Baptism and Communion. Their flowing from Christ's side at His death tell us that His Bride, the Church, is born on this day just as Eve, Adam's bride, was born from his side at the dawn of the pre-Christian world. The symbolism here is very profound, which explains why John is so moved by it.

This also means that those who insist that the Church was born at Pentecost are in error. The Church was baptized (with the Holy Spirit) at Pentecost but she was born at Calvary just as the eyewitness, John, has testified. You might also see in this some additional scriptural support for the practice of infant Baptism.

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This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Jul 17 at 5:21

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