The Water and the Blood
1 John 5:6
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood…

By the form of the expression, "not by water only," it is implied that there are two beliefs as to the object of Jesus Christ's coming into the world — one of them going beyond the other, and taking in something that the other leaves out. There were probably those then, there are certainly those now, who would have no difficulty in accepting the main facts of Christ's birth and biography, would admit Him to be a memorable teacher, a reformer of society, a leader among moralists and philanthropists; but they would allow nothing further in His claims, as the Head of the Church or the Saviour of mankind. They would probably declare that nothing further was needed to make men all that they ought to be. But they were wrong. Four thousand years of Jewish and Gentile self-righteousness had proved that there is no self-recovering power in humanity alone. First the "water." Water is the emblem of spiritual purification, because it is the common instrument of outward washing. Our Lord Himself, who was able to set all symbols and all forms aside if He chose, went down into the water, at the beginning of His life's work, in order, we are told, that He might fulfil all righteousness. He "came by water." "Go teach the nations of the earth and baptize them" with water, was His last commission, when His work was done. So it is that each individual Christian life, as well as the whole body of Christ, after Him, came "by water." Why is this? Because one great part of our Saviour's work is to purify men's lives. He was baptized with their baptism, and they with His. The world was to sneer at Him, and spit upon Him, in spite of His purity: in being holy for them He will also be washed with them. He "came by water." Accordingly one great part of the power of Christ among men, through the gospel and the Church, is the cleansing away of moral corruptions. "He that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself." Stains on the lips, the hands, the habits; stains on social courtesies, domestic dispositions, and even on Church observances; worst of all, stains on the sacred temple walls of the soul itself — these all have to be washed away. Christ came to cleanse His followers from all unrighteousness. He "came by water." But now shall we not only say, "This is true," but shall we go on to say, "This is all that our Saviour gives us, and this is the whole of His gospel: Christianity is a system of moral education and religious improvement; nothing more"? "This is He that came by water and blood; not by water only, but by water and blood." The daily sacrifice of four thousand preparatory years had presignified it to a waiting world. As the passion flower sprang out of the common earth, and held up its bright blossom and natural image of the tree at Calvary, ages before the real Cross was planted in its soil, so the passion promise of prophecy bloomed in the expectant faith of the race at the very gates of Eden. The serpent had polluted Paradise; but after all, the woman's seed should bruise the serpent's head. Man knew from the beginning that he must have a Saviour to look to, or humanity itself would die. Somewhere among the sons of men there must be One Perfect Obedience, One Sufficient Sacrifice, needing not, like those shadowy sacrifices which prepared the way, to be often offered, but "once offered." Then a living and loving faith in Him will work out the true and healing life in every believing heart. "There is a fountain opened for sin, and for uncleanness"; but it is not a water fountain. Only he who doeth the deeds of the Law — so it reads — will live by them. Who of us has done them? Where are we then if there is "water only," example and precept only, commandments only, sorrow upon sorrow when they are broken, and the breaking repeated still? Among the most remarkable of Overbeck's striking series of pictures illustrating the life of Jesus, there is one that represents Him as a Child in the carpenter's shop. Like other children, He has been playing with the tools, and has taken up the saw. A look of solemnity passes over His radiant face; and by the shadow that falls on the floor underneath you see that the block of wood He is sawing out is taking the shape of a cross. Joseph looks on in a kind of perplexed reverence, and the Virgin mother by His side with a sad admiration, as if Simeon's prediction were already beginning to have its accomplishment, and the sword were piercing her own soul also. This is not imagination; it is rather interpretation. The artist is only an expositor of the evangelist. "This is He that came by water and blood." From the outset of His personal ministry — as it had been from the foundation of the world — the Saviour was pointing to the sacrifice, journeying always towards Calvary. Other prophets and reformers had come "by water," preaching purification for the future. He alone came "by blood," giving, in Himself, atonement for past and future both.

(Bp. Huntington.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

WEB: This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

The Spirit's Witness to Christ
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