Lent Devotion for April 3
"They Pierced His Side"
Reader: "My life is poured out…"
Response: "…all my bones are out of joint.”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 22:14
My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me.
SCRIPTURE: John 19:31-35
31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn’t want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was Passover week). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. 35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also may continue to believe.)
Reader: “The word of the Lord."
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
There are several things to observe in these passages. First off, in the Psalm 22 passage, in the phrase “my life is poured out like water,” we are reminded of Jesus’ words at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37-38) “anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” Jesus made a similar reference in His conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.
The phrase probably most directly refers to the fact that Jesus’ life was completely spent, He had given all that we might drink of the living water bringing eternal life. Also remember that during the forty years wandering in the wilderness, time and again life-giving water came from the rock, which represented Christ. The second phrase of the verse makes reference to bones being out of joint. Part of the process of death by crucifixion is that the elbows, arms and shoulder joints are all dislocated and pulled out of their sockets due to the stretching and weight of the body. Also in the process, excessive fluid builds up around the heart. In John’s gospel, he tells us exactly what he saw since he was present when it happened. From the account of Scripture, apparently Jesus had been beaten so badly He experienced a tremendous loss of blood lowering His blood pressure, severely depleting His bodily fluid level, thereby greatly weakening Him. When the soldiers came to finish off those crucified so that they could be taken down and buried, they realized Jesus was already dead. They drove a spear into His side just to bring certainty. In John’s gospel, he has many references to water. Since Jesus’ death brings life and forgiveness of sin it is interesting that John makes a point of referring to water and blood at this point. We have only to recall Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus saying we must be “born of water and the Spirit.” John also makes reference, as do other writers of the New Testament, to the shedding of blood for the cleansing of sin. Jesus also refers to drinking His blood (John 6:53) in connection with eternal life. In His death, we can see references to both new birth and communion. Our Lord was preaching even in His death.
God of all times and places, in Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross, you opened for us the path to eternal life. Grant that we, being born again of water and the Spirit and cleansed by the blood, may joyfully serve you in newness of life and faithfully walk in your holy ways, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
–The Worship Source Book, p.577, Adapted by DS