The Piercing of Jesus' Side!
George Everard, 1868
"One of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water!" John 19:34
One tree has been the channel of all the evil that is to be found in the world.
Another tree has been the channel of all the good that is to be found in the world.
From the fruit of the tree of which Eve partook, has arisen . . .
all the sin,
all the care,
all the sorrow,
all the disease, and
all the death that are to be seen on every side.
From the fruit of another tree, that on which Jesus bore our sins, has arisen . . .
all the grace,
all the holiness,
all the hope,
all the consolation,
which the redeemed have received from above.
Oh, that we might gaze upon that cross, and in faith behold Him who hung there! O blessed Redeemer, grant us the Spirit of grace and supplication . . .
that we may look upon You whom our sins have pierced, and mourn;
that we may again look upon You, and rejoice in such a loving Savior, in such a blood-bought salvation!
Reader, go near to that cross! As John and the faithful women stood beneath its shadow — so you likewise go and behold the Lamb of God slain for sinners!
Behold that head, lately anointed with fragrant spikenard — now encircled with a chaplet of sharp thorns!
Behold that face, fairer than the children of men, upon which angels delighted to gaze — covered with mingled blood and spittle!
Behold those eyes, which beheld the city with such compassion, which shed tears over it, as at the tomb of Bethany — now growing dim in death!
Behold those ears, which never in vain heard the cry of sorrow or distress — now greeted with bitter mockings and reproaches!
Behold those lips, which spoke as never man spoke, which said to the widow, "Weep not," and to the waves, "Peace, be still" — now swollen with blows and parched with thirst!
Behold those hands, which healed the leper by their touch, which lifted up the daughter of Jairus and restored her to life — now torn by nails!
Behold those feet, which ever went about doing good, which trod the waves of Gennesaret — now sore wounded, and painfully transfixed to the cruel wood!
Behold that body, so holy, so chaste, so pure — suffering unknown agonies!
And now behold the heart of Jesus, so tender and true, so kind and loving — pierced with the soldier's spear!
Ah, it was a savage, cruel hand that inflicted this last wound on the body of our Lord! There was no need for it. The spirit of the Redeemer had fled. His enemies had done their worst. He could no longer suffer pain or grief. But that spear-wound was, as it were, a mark of the hatred which still existed against the Crucified. Deeply too must that wide gash from which flowed forth blood and water, have reached to the heart of John and the godly women who yet stood by.
What does that spear, that pierced side, tell of man's sin in all periods of the world's history?
Let every Christian look at his own sin, and see how it has wounded his Lord. Surely it has been as the scourge, the nail, the spear. It has increased the burden of guilt which He bore; it has added to the sufferings which He endured. How utterly should we loathe and forsake the sin that wrought the sufferings and death of our best Friend!
An American Indian was persuaded, sorely against his will, to murder a dear friend. After he had done the deed, a terrible remorse seized him. He took the knife which he had used, and having dug a deep hole on the north side of a tree, he threw it in that he might never more see it, and that it might lie beneath a spot upon which the sun would never shine.
Let me ever thus regard my sin! My sin is that which has wounded the One who bore me nothing but good will, and who ever sought my peace. My sin is that which has slain my Friend, my Savior, my Redeemer! May I ever regard it as an accursed thing! May I never more look upon it with favor, but with the utmost abhorrence. May I keep far away, shrinking from its very touch, as the deadliest pollution!
How utterly we should loathe and forsake the sin that wrought the sufferings and death of our best Friend!
Ah, give me, Lord, the tender heart
That trembles at the approach of sin.
A godly fear of sin impart,
Implant and root it deep within;
That I may fear Your gracious power,
And never dare to offend You more.
But what does that spear-wound tell of divine mercy, grace, and salvation?
Here in the riven side of Christ, is the cleft of the rock, the safe hiding place, where the sinner may flee and find rest and safety. In every accusation of conscience abide here, for "there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." In every season of doubt or anxiety, you may repose here, for Christ has said, "In Me you shall have peace." In all the storms of affliction that may fall upon you, in the burning heat of noon, in the wearing toil and hurry of life's work — you may in a moment find consolation by turning to the Savior; for it is written, "A man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
Whenever the Adversary tempts or affrights you, whenever you experience unkindness or injurious treatment at the hands of others — flee again and again to Christ as the refuge of your soul.
A story is told of a dove pursued by a hawk that flew into the bosom of one who was walking over a field. He looked tenderly upon the bird fluttering with terror, and said to it, "I will not give you up to your enemy, since you come to me for sanctuary." Even so may the soul, terrified by the assaults of the Evil One, or harassed by the persecutions of the world — flee straight to the Friend of sinners with the prayer, "O deliver not the soul of Your dove unto the multitude of the enemies."
But John tells us that from the side of Christ, there flowed water and blood. It affords a testimony to the accuracy of the narrative, for we are told that long-continued agony such as Jesus had suffered has a tendency to produce a quantity of water around the heart.
It affords also an illustration of those streams of salvation that come to us through the Savior's crucifixion. It shadows forth the blessings that follow from His death.
It tells of the blood that cleanses from all sin. It tells of the fountain open, and open for you.
Are you just waking from the sleep of sin, from a life-time of indifference to the service of God? The message is for you: "Wash, and be clean!"
Are you a backslider? Have you turned away from Christ? Do you feel as if such sin could never be forgiven? Yet despair not. True you have brought dishonor upon His name; you have said in fact to those around you, "I have tried the world, and I have tried Christ — and the world is the best master." Yet once again turn back to Him. He will pardon. "Wash, and be clean."
Are you a believer clinging only to Jesus — and yet distressed on account of your manifold sins and infirmities? Here is your safety, here is your comfort — a continual resort to the open fountain. By it is the only place on earth where every sin withers and dies — and where grace and holiness and love thrive and grow.
For with the efficacy of His blood to cleanse, does Jesus ever join the power of the Spirit, the living water — to renew and sanctify. You cannot separate them. "The water and the blood" will ever flow on together. Both are given through Christ's meritorious suffering and death on the cross. And He gives not one without the other. Grace to forgive, and grace to sanctify — both or neither will Jesus bestow.
As you look to Him daily to wash you from your sins in His own blood — so likewise look to Him every hour for fresh supplies of His quickening, sanctifying Spirit.
Flow, my tears, flow still faster,
Thus my guilt and sin bemoan;
Mourn, my heart, in deeper anguish,
Over sorrows not your own!
See a spotless Lamb draw nigh,
To Jerusalem, to die
For your sins, the sinless One.
Think! ah, think! what you have done!
Can we view the Savior given
To the smiter's hands for us?
Can we all unmoved, unhumbled,
See Him mocked and slighted thus?
View the thorny chaplet made
For His meek and silent head,
Hear the loud and angry din,
And not tremble for our sin?
Must I, Jesus, thus behold Thee
In Your toil and sorrow here?
Can I nothing better yield Thee
Than my unavailing tear?
Lamb of God! I weep for Thee!
Weep, Your cruel cross to see —
Weep, for death that death destroys!
Weep, for grief that brings me joys!
Poor is all that I can offer,
Soul and body while I live;
Take it, O my Savior, take it —
I have nothing more to give.
Come, and in this heart remain,
Let each enemy be slain —
Let me live and die with Thee;
To Your kingdom, welcome me.