Water and Blood

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : 1 John 5:6-8

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ. (v. 6 NRSV)

The one who came by water. Baptism. The one who came by blood. Crucifixion. Jesus, John reminds us, came not only with the water of baptism but also with the blood of the cross. Water and blood. John also tells us (John 19:34) that during the crucifixion one of the Roman soldiers pierced the side of Jesus with his spear and at once blood and water came out – evidence that Jesus was really dead and that he was truly human.

We are often tempted to forget the cross. It is messy, after all, and not very pretty. An excruciating form of human execution, the cross is not what one would choose as a central symbol of one’s faith. But there it is – in our churches, in our art, on our jewelry – the ancient equivalent of an electric chair.

And we are sometimes tempted to ignore baptism. The act itself is not the problem as much as what it implies: I am now a member of this community of people who are not always pretty and whose lives are often messy. But there it is – the church, the body of people who strive, by God’s grace, to follow Jesus. We too come by water and by blood. Both by the grace of God.


God of grace, we exist by virtue of water and blood, our own and that of your Son Jesus. May we acknowledge our dependence on you and your grace.