John 19:33–34, 38 (NKJV)
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. …
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
It makes sense for blood to come out, but why would there be water?
In The Crucifixion of Jesus: a Forensic Inquiry, Zugibe explains that the “water” is actually pleural effusion from the pleura sac surrounding one of Jesus’s lungs. Not being modern doctors, His followers couldn’t have known this unless they witnessed it.
However, a skeptic might say that the emission of blood and water could have been common knowledge because popping the corpse in the side with a spear was normal.
But there’s no historical evidence to support that. Besides, it doesn’t fit with what we know about the Roman practice of crucifixion.
Rome wasn’t in a hurry to get people down off the cross. Remember, the purpose of crucifixion was deterrence. Why not just leave them up there for a while? An empty cross doesn’t have the visual impact of one with a person on it, even a lifeless one.
Thus, leaving them up increases the deterrent effect, especially after a few days. Like Martha said to Jesus about her brother Lazarus after he’d been dead for a few days (John 11:39, King James translation):
As hard as it is to unsee someone being crucified, imagine trying to forget the smell.
And any Roman soldier given the task of removing a corpse from a cross wouldn’t want to turn it into a wet slimy one by poking holes in it.
This shows that Jesus’s friends were eyewitnesses to His crucifixion, which refutes the theory that, due to mistaken identity, the Romans crucified somebody else.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. — John 19:25–27 (NKJV)
John knew it was Jesus. His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene all knew it was Him. Joseph of Arimathea wanted the body because he knew it was Him.
All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:
The Job book is on Amazon and is eligible for Amazon Prime. The Kindle edition will be out soon.