Water and Blood in Passover and Easter

Water and blood are key elements in the “Passover to freedom” story and in the Easter story. Their connection with the act of birthing was also poured into this study. This inquiry sprung out of the writings of John the Apostle. John was a young fisherman, who got a title of “Son of Thunder”, reported seeing blood and water flowing from Jesus’ side (John 19:34), he had the love and the bravery to be at the cross when others did not. 1 John 5 has this theme discussed in verses 26-28 when he links to water, blood, and Spirit agreeing about Jesus and His coming. The birthing connection is in verse 26 where it states-He did not come by water only, but by water and blood (NIV). The “come by water only” statement needed investigating. I have heard and read dramatic preachers get graphic, and probably a little weird, on this topic. I will try to keep it in good taste and leave the drama out, but just list facts with a few opinions.

The “coming of water” is normally linked to His birth through Mary. But looking at the whole story and history of Passover it just seems like Mary in a stable is not the only “birth” experience. There are many verses that highlight women and birthing in the Bible. Even the trip through the Red Sea is viewed as a birthing experience because Israel was freed as a nation on the other side. The water and the path of dry ground provide some of the imagery, but I would add the dead Egyptians were the “blood” in this story. The water and blood of the Nile River (Exodus 7:17) also gave birth to freedom over the Egyptian gods. The blood on the doorpost needs to be added into this scenario, but here God is passing through the land taking out the cult of the firstborn. So, Jesus’ Christmas arrival is important, but in view of His mission to bring together God’s plan, He had other water and blood experiences. His baptism in the Jordan by John and His blood poured out by the Jews and Romans is the major one. I can narrow His trip through the Jordan even closer to Passover because in Matthew 19 He is on the east bank of the river and had to pass through the water to get to Jerusalem. This same route was also taken by Joshua, David, and Elisha who are types and shadows of Jesus.     

ATONEMENT, BORN AGAIN, and BIRTHING

The three elements in 1 John are not always together in a story or verse. That does not nullify their importance in any particular story or verse.

Atonement – Atonement is because of sacrifice and those, especially in the Old Testament, normally have blood and water involved in the ceremony. You may not agree with some of these, that is fine. Please let me know why. I will list some examples of “water and blood” before the Law was given. It is possible that there is some stretching in these:).

  • Genesis 3:21 – God made them clothes of skins (some sheep died) and those may have been washed in the river in the Garden.
  • Genesis 6 – People and animals died by water in Noah’s Flood. The Flood cleansed the world.

Water and blood are parts of many specific sacrifices in the Law. The ones I want to highlight are in Leviticus 14: 6 and 51. These are birds (doves or young pigeons) that are being killed over a jar of water. The water and blood mixture then has the bird, hyssop, scarlet yarn, and cedarwood dipped in it. On a practical note, the yarn and hyssop probably made a “brush” to deliver the sprinkled water onto the thing being atoned. The other metaphors are the bird being the Spirit, cedarwood maybe the cross and it makes it fragrant, hyssop was used at the cross with the wine vinegar, and the yarn could represent Jesus’ body. 

Hebrews 9: 19 (NIV) also has these elements- When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. And Hebrews 9:22 (NIV) brings these thoughts together- In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Birthing – Birthing and baptism may overlap depending on how you read the story. Someone higher than my paygrade made it that way, sort it out as needed, and talk to Him.   

The waters of Creation (Genesis 1:2), the Red Sea, and Joshua crossing the Jordan can be birthing examples. The blood in the Red Sea and at the Jordan were people dying-Egyptian army, first-born, and the peoples of Jericho and Ai. At a Jewish Passover celebration, they give honor to the crossings by mixing wine and water together in the four cups they drink during the meal.

Ezekiel 16 is an allegory of Israel’s birth and its rejection by the world and how God claimed her, and then how she ignored God. 

Waiting is a part of birthing. The child has to grow inside of the mother. She gets to feel the movement of the baby and she experiences changes. As a father, I got to watch those changes, but I could not feel my wife’s discomfort and pain. Time is part of birthing stories- 430 years for the Red Sea, 40 years for crossing the Jordan, and Mary had the nine months waiting for Jesus. 

Born Again – The story of Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3 is the cornerstone of teaching for the born-again experience. Other New Testament references for the born-again experience are: 

  • 1 Peter 1:23 where the seed is the living and enduring word of God.
  • Ephesians 5:26 Christ gave Himself for the Church and cleansed her by washing with water through the Word. 
  • Titus 3:5 Jesus saved us through washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
  • Romans 12:1+2 Part of this Rebirth is offering ourselves as a sacrifice in spiritual worship and being transformed and renewed in our mind.  
  • Colossians 3:9+10 We have put on “the new self” and it is being renewed in knowledge of its Creator (NIV). 

A thing that is apparent is that the Father likes, what we call “types and shadows”, to announce in His first covenant what will be in the second covenant. In the “birthing’ section are many examples that show baptism-Noah’s Flood, Red Sea, crossing the Jordan. So, I had to look for a rebirth shadow, which often looks like a birthing shadow. I so wanted to use Joseph coming before Pharaoh as a rebirth example. The issue was he was shaved and changed his clothes, but no water was mentioned. Those two acts are more associated with ending the Nazirite vow. (Shaving has become a whole other topic.) If I may, here is what I think shows rebirth, with water, and the cry from people’s hearts for the “re” experience.

  • Jonah being thrown into the sea, changing, and finishing his mission. (Granted he had a bad attitude.)
  • Naaman and Elisha in 2 Kings 5:13+14; Naaman was cleansed by the water and left changed.
  • Asaph in Psalm 80 ask three times to be restored to God. Okay, we can play with the translation of Hebrew into English but the sentiment is there. 
  • David in Psalm 51:10 (NIV) Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.
  • Isaiah 40:31 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
  • Jeremiah in Lamentation 5:21 Restore us so we can return and renew our days.

That is a lot of “re” but to have a rebirth, or be renewed, or restored we had to have some measure of those things before. Matthew 12:35 (NIV) gives us a glimpse- A good man brings good things out of the good stored in him.  

There are other mentions of water and blood in the Bible. I tried to keep this post about Passover and Easter and the topics that water and blood are a part of in our redemption story. 

This is a good article from the Jewish perspective, on natural and metaphorically birth.

article

The Sermons on Two Mounts-Topics of the Sermons

This edition of the Sermons on Two Mounts series is about the topics of the sermons. Like the first sermon (Matthew 5-7) these sermons contain more than one bullet point. I separated out the locations and the audiences as best I could. The actual topics may be called other things, this is still a study, so if you have a suggestion please leave it in the comment section. I have written on some of the lessons, they will appear in blue and are linked to that WordPress post. Notes to myself are in italics if you are wondering. This is primarily from Matthew, Mark and Luke are slightly different and there is a very small reference in John; some of those will be present. 

The references to Tuesday of Holy Week are:

  • Matthew 21:18 to 23:39-24:1 to 26:5
  • Mark 11:20 to 12:44 -13:1 to 13:37
  • Luke 20:1 to 21:4-21:5 to 21:38
  • John 12: 37-50 This one is iffy, John goes from Monday to Thursday with this in the middle of that narrative. It seems to fit with the teachings on Tuesday. 

Mount of Olives

            To the disciples

Faith and prayer from the fig tree and mountainMark 11:26 sounds like Matthew 6:15 which is in the Sermon on the Mount. Reference Matt. 18:21-35 where Peter is being taught about forgiveness. And the Lord’s prayer. Stop doing fig tree activities, see Genesis 3:7.

Temple Mount

            To leaders in the presence of the crowds

                        Authority (around John and believing him)

                        Two sons (doing what the Father wants)

                        Tenants (ownership of the work). Mark and Luke are more dramatic in their telling of stories, Matthew is very factual and focus. Mark 12:6 is very dramatic about the son. Luke 20:17 is dramatic. All mention of vineyards in Matthew is in three parables-two here and Matt 20. See Isaiah 5:7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel.

Stone rejected/Fruit produced

                          Banquet (end time?)

 Questions and answers Matthew 22:15-46 by and to the Pharisees

Civil Law – Roman coin/taxes and what does and does not belong to God. Mark also has Herodians, not Luke. This would have had serious legal implications. They were not liked so this is an alliance for ill-will

                        Jewish Law– Marriage and the resurrection (draws in the thought of the kingdom)

                        Greatest Law-love God and neighbor

                        Law-giver/ruler/enforcer

                                    David and Lord

            To the crowds and the disciples; leaders were still present

                        Seven Woes to holders of Moses’ seat (Genesis 18).

  1. Shutting up the kingdom to the people.
  2. Make their disciples worse than they are.
  3. Gifts, gold, and swearing oaths.
  4. Problems of why they give.
  5. Clean the inside first then the outside.
  6. Appearing righteous.
  7. Guilty of killing prophets.

Mark and Luke have the story of the widow’s offering. These woes are in Luke 11: 37-52 the teachings are very similar. Woe = quai. The seven woes are part of the fig tree dying and the stones being pulled down. https://franknelte.net/article.php?article_id=363

Matthew 24:1 prophecy about Jerusalem and the Temple. Relates to the fig tree dying.

Mount of Olives

        Disciples

                        Watch out

                        Persecuted

                        Abomination in the Temple

                        Distress

                        Son of Man Coming

                                    Fig Tree-additional lesson 

                        The time. Reference Isaiah 61 for year and day.

                        Keep watch

                        Faithful

                                    Ten Virgins

                                    Talents

                                    Sheep and Goats-both were allowed in some offerings/sacrifices 

            Announcement of Crucifixion – Matthew 26:1-5 This is not part of the sermons, but Jesus told the disciples several times He would die. These are other references and the predictions in the Tuesday teaching.  Matthew 21:39, 20:18+19; John 3:14 and 12:34 are predictions.

Thorns and Thistles and the Tree of Knowledge

I will get to the point right away with thorns, thistles, and the Tree of Knowledge. Thorns by themselves are a sticky subject, but I will include thistles and the Tree. The three big references to thorns are where we get stuck in our thinking: Genesis 3:17, the original curse, the crown the Romans put on Jesus after beating Him, and Paul’s messenger of Satan in 2 Corinthians 12. But there are fifty-four verses with thorns in the Bible. (That number stays consistent in the various versions.) When we add in briers, nettles, thistles, tares, and weeds, the picture of problem plants in the Eastern Mediterranean expands and covers our field of study quite well.

The Tree of Knowledge had a good and evil component to it. The plants that are part of the curse of man’s greed in wanting knowledge and not life also have a good and evil/painful component. Some useful flora with thorns are roses, citrus fruit, and blackberries. In the Holy Land and in the Bible, they used thorn plants for whipping people, burning to cook food, and making barriers you did not want to go through. They use up a lot of water and seem to grow quickly, so they will damage the crops.

Thistles can have magnificent flowers, medicinal properties, and are eaten by humans and animals. The spines are painful if you disrespect the plant and get careless around it. (Israel put them on postage stamps.)

Off-topic, slightly.

Genesis 3 was a real eye-opener for Eve and Adam. Death entered the Garden, and they started dying. They found out serpents could move with no legs. Eve would discover pain and child-bearing. Desire and authority rushed into her life. Thorns and thistles were to be a complication in food production. Adam received pain because of them. That death entailed decomposition. How many of these concepts did they know about before greed and lust won their thinking?

Metaphors 

Exodus 22:6 is the initial statement of an issue with thorns-they dry out and become a fire hazard. (The things that get into your skin will burn you up.) Numbers 33:55 is the first usage of thorns as a metaphor for someone causing you pain. Gideon in Judges 8:7 promises to apply them and briers for torture and inflicting pain. Okay, to employ them for that is difficult because they must be gathered, and holding them requires serious precautions.

These plant protectors certainly are a proven problem (evil) and a teaching tool (good). If you have been a Christian for very long, you have heard many sermons about them. Some people spend a lot of time trying to figure out what type of thorn you are, and why you cause them so much pain. There is also a lot of moaning about the thorn poking them, and how they have to endure it in life.

Jesus 

Metaphorically, Judas Iscariot was a thorn in Jesus. Peter may have been a thistle at times (LOL). The thorny crown is possibly the only thing Jesus wore on the cross. So, with the nails, the Roman scourge, and spear, they released the blood that covers our sin (s) before the Father. 

Paul 

Steven Furtick has used Paul’s thorn in several sermons (September/October 2012), these in part, spurred this study. He did a great job with the topic.

It seems right, yet wrong, to always assume that Paul’s thorn was a bodily ailment. (A mental or spiritual issue can easily lead to physical pains.) Many try to make it an eye problem caused by the blindness from his conversion as the source of Satan’s angel against him. (Please note that the thorn was not from God.) Many try to claim a thorn as great as his. Paul got that thorn so he would not be conceited. Do you really want one like that? You probably never got an amazing revelation while in Heaven. I will also bet that writing a good part of the New Testament and supervising many churches are also not in your resume. Get the point, we deal with things and they cause troubles for us, but why compare them with his thorn. Paul’s message from this-stop complaining and ask for a deeper understanding of grace.

My Take

Thorns and briers are painful. Thorns and briers cause issues. If you elect to mess with one of those bushes, you will most likely be in pain. Their fruit or flowers may tempt and possibly be worth the discomfort you judge. The suffering is the same if someone else sticks you with one, or you find it by accident. Shoes and lawn tractor tires that found them in the grass had to be fixed. Cutting them down and burning them are the best ways of getting rid of them.

Thistles can come with beautiful flowers, and the plant has a strange type of attractiveness if all you do is look at it. If you allow a thistle to stay in your yard, it will create many more of them once they mature. Get them out of your ground early in their life. Let them grow and digging them out later can still cause pain, don’t leave the root or a stub. 

Isaiah 55:13 does offer hope that the curse of thorns and thistles will be reversed. 

Knowledge is good and can be bad. Thorns and thistles are bad even if the plant produces something useful.