1 John 5:6-12
6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The first question one asks when reading this passage is the nature of the phrase, "He did not come by water only, but by water and blood." First, it acknowledges that when the soldiers pierced Jesus' side that water and blood came out but they were separated. There are lots of scientific theories about how the blood and water could have separated, like a condition where water pools in the heart chamber. But I think John's main point is to use blood and water as a metaphor. As we have seen in John, he likes to use metaphors like light and darkness, and wind and Spirit.
Water is the element for new birth and cleansing. In the temple, water was used for ritual purification, and new Gentile converts to Judaism took part in a baptismal cleansing as they entered the community of faith. And, of course in John 3, Jesus says to Nicodemus, a Jewish teacher, "You must be born again. You must be born of the water and the Spirit." And today water is used to signify the forgiveness and cleansing we have through Jesus in Holy Baptism.
Blood also has significance in the Jewish faith, as there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. In the Old Testament the blood from the innocent lamb was used to signify the sins of the Israelites being transferred to the innocent animal. This is called "atonement" or "justification". Our justification comes from outside of us, we can't justify ourselves, even though we try.
And again, remember John is refuting the heresies that said Jesus really wasn't a man, he just appeared to be a man. They denied the body, and relegated everything to the Spirit. So Jesus is born of the Holy Spirit, he is baptized by water in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. Then, when Jesus dies on the cross, a spear is thrust into him and this brings water and blood, thus proving he was truly human. Also on the cross Jesus' innocent blood stoned for our sins.
So John concludes that there are three that testify to the truth of Jesus Christ. He was born of water. He shed his blood on the cross for our sins. And after he died, the Spirit who breathed life into His body at His birth, and then raised him from the dead.
For John this word "testimony" is very important. Remember John has said, "And we are eyewitnesses to the things that have happened among us." He wanted the people to know that they had seen his body, his blood, and the water he was baptized in. This was a direct attack on the heresy that the stories about Jesus were a mirage. They only seemed to be true. And we see today testimony is so important to the continued mission of the church to spread the Good News. Each of us is a testimony to the living Christ. The transformation in our lives can only be seen through what Jesus has done through His Holy Spirit. What else could explain it?
As you look at your life, where is Jesus transforming you to be more like him? How will this help your testimony to those around you that Jesus is living and real? For John there was no greater joy than seeing those who came after him believing in the Savior. May that be our heartbeat as well.