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In reading What significance does John perceive in the piercing of Christ's side and the flow of blood and water?, I wondered if there is anything unusual about both blood and water flowing from the spear-wound in Jesus' side (see John 19:34). If the soldier who pierced Jesus' side had also pierced the side of one of the malefactors with whom Jesus was crucified, would blood and water also have come out of the malefactor's body?

I understand that the primary interpretation of the verse concerns the reality of Jesus' death from John's perspective as an eyewitness, which reality the soldiers bore witness to, since they refused to break Jesus' legs because He was already dead.

In the answers to Matthew Miller's question, though, one contributor's answer "spiritualized" the significance of "blood and water," suggesting that the water signified eternal life and the blood signified mortal life, both of which poured from Jesus' side.

I heard a sermon years ago that makes me wonder about this secondary (?) interpretation. In that sermon, the preacher spoke of the physiological aspect of the occurrence. He may have even involved medical science in some way, such that from a doctor's point of view something unusual had taken place after Jesus was pierced by the spear.

We know that Jesus' blood did not contain the taint of sin, since Jesus was of the seed of a woman, not a man; His blood therefore did not carry the "death" gene, as it were. Is there more to Jesus' blood, however, that can be explained by not spiritualizing the blood and water?

I do not disagree with the legitimate symbolism and significance of both blood and water in Scripture in general and in John's gospel in particular, but I cannot help but wonder if in addition to the spiritual factors involved here there is also a very human and physiological explanation.

Is there a medical or physiological explanation? Is it normal for blood and water to both flow from a body in these circumstances?

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The horrific and agonizing death by crucifixion which our dear Lord endured on our behalf is described in detail at Blue Letter Bible.

We know that after being centrifuged in a laboratory, the resulting components of blood include a clear solution of blood plasma. Blood plasma is the straw-colored/pale-yellow liquid component of blood that normally holds blood cells in suspension. By volume it contains 92 percent water.

If the pericardium of Jesus' heart, which the soldier's spear may have penetrated, was filled with plasma from the intense pressure being exerted upon the heart during crucifixion, blood from the ventricle (left or right), plasma ("water") from the pericardium, and pleural fluid from the lungs would issue from the wound, particularly with Jesus positioned, as he was, vertically; hence John's descriptors of "a sudden flow of blood and water" (NIV).

Some scriptures for additional meditation: Isaiah 52:14; 53:5,10; Psalm 22:12-21; Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, and Psalm 34:20; also Zechariah 12:10.

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Death by crucifixion is normally a horrific ordeal but fortunately Jesus only endured the first few hours, before he became exhausted so his ordeal was a relatively easy affair. Can you provide any sources for the anatomical details you supply? – WoundedEgo Jul 11 at 14:46

A medical or physiological explanation would probably eliminate the possibility of a miracle, even if only a minor, symbolic miracle. However, some medical experts doubt that the blood and water can be explained in this way.

ICC New Testament Commentary says that a flow of blood from a dead body, when pierced with a spear, is abnormal and for that reason, various physical explanations have been offered. One suggestion (W. Stroud) is that the death of Jesus had been caused by rupture of the heart, and that the “blood and water” were the separated clot and serum of the escaped blood in the pericardial sac, which the lance had pierced. The commentary says this assumes that the wound was on the left side, of which there is no evidence, tradition (whatever it be worth) indicating the right side. Furthermore, Stroud’s arguments have not approved themselves to all physicians. Dr. C. Creighton (and others) object that “the blood escaping into a serum cavity from rupture of a great organ” does not show any tendency to separate into clot and serum, “but remains thick dark-red blood.” On the basis of expert advice, this does not seem a plausible explanation for what John describes.

Michael R. Cosby (Portraits of Jesus, page 185) says that the attempts by some modern doctors to provide physiological explanations for how water could be separated from the blood in Jesus' heart are no doubt sincere, but they fail to recognise the symbolic nature of the witness in John 19:34-37.

Elizabeth Danna (From Gethsemane to Pentecost, page 95) believes that this account was included by John's author to counter an emerging Gnostic tradition that Jesus was not crucified in the flesh, it being only a phantom of Jesus that appeared to be on the cross. An alternative theological explanation is also provided in this answer.

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The ICC Commentary appears to be that of J.H. Bernard. – Susan Jul 11 at 7:23

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