Pilate stands in the palace — his palace — where he has passed decision after decision after decision. This man lives, this man dies, this man is flogged and returned to the population. Except in his dream, this dream that haunts him every night, he no longer occupies the seat of decision; instead, he faces the carpenter the Jews crucified.
“Do you believe I’m the king of the Jews?” the interrogation begins. A smear of blood cakes and cracks in the corner of the carpenter’s mouth where the high priest’s men had struck him earlier in the evening.
“I…I don’t know,” Pilate stammers. “You’re a king, like Caesar.”
“I’m a king,” the carpenter agrees, “but not like Caesar. You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” Pilate asks, the words slipping out just like a thousand nights before — too fast to draw them back in. He sees the carpenter smile and he winces in pain, knowing now from the shear repetition of dreams what to expect.
“What is truth?” the carpenter clarifies. “Is that what you demand of me, Pilate? My friend, there are three that testify to the truth — the Spirit, the water, and the blood!”
Suddenly he is no longer in the palace — instead he is lashed to the mast of a small fishing boat, tossed by the wind and the waves on Galilee. Night surrounds him; he can barely see the details of the craft he occupies. The boat pitches up, up, then down, down. His stomach rolls, the bile rises to his throat. Out of the night, the carpenter speaks, “Pilate, you don’t see the wind but you feel its effects, see its progression. So it is with the Spirit. The Spirit tells you through its effects, through its progression that I am he and I am real.”
The boat and midnight are suddenly gone, replaced by water. He is in water, the amniotic sack of the womb. He can see more clearly now, although the vision is murky and what he does see is eery and unfamiliar. Force, great, pressing, crushing force sends him flying down the birth canal toward light. As his head crests, the voice reverbates in his ears: “Pilate, the water of birth testifies of my truth. I?was creator of man — found perfect in the creation of a perfect, endless cycle of recreation; I was born of man — found perfect in trial and test; I was baptized as a man — symbolizing the ceremonial watery death and burial you all must endure to join yourself with me.”
Immediately Pilate can see, from a vantage point he had appointed but had never experienced in reality. He stands, on the tips of his toes, on the shallow platform attached to the cross. Greedily, he pushes up on his perch, gathering breath into aching lungs. Each time he surges up, the iron nails in his feet and wrists ripped new paths of pain. Looking down, he sees his accuser — the carpenter, the Jewish Christ. He holds a spear inches away from his ribcage.
“Friend, along with the Spirit and the water, the blood testifies of me.” The spear finds its mark between ribs and blood and water flow down Pilate’s side. “The blood — the pure blood of a sacrificial, unblemished lamb — washes away sin. My blood cleanses, sustains. Your blood is tainted, foul, soiled. You, Pilate, die in vain.”
As quickly as the images have come, they disappear. No more storm, no more womb, no more cross. He stands alone in his place of decision. A voice echoes down the palace halls: “Pilate, I am truth.”
Text 1 John 5:6–12
This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three who testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is God’s testimony which he has testified concerning his Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who doesn’t believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. The testimony is this, that God gave to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has the life. He who doesn’t have God’s Son doesn’t have the life.
- Jesus came by water and blood — but what does that mean? Is this passage referring to the water of natural child birth or the water of baptism? What about blood? Does this signify death? His communal remembrance?
- The Spirit, the water, and the blood testify concerning Jesus. How does the Spirit testify that Jesus is Lord? Depending on your viewpoint regarding water and blood, how do they testify that Jesus is Lord?
- John says that God’s testimony is greater than man’s testimony concerning Jesus Christ. What is man’s testimony and what is God’s?
- John also says that anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Agree or disagree? If you do agree, how do we have this testimony in our heart? More importantly, how does this testimony reveal itself?
Water to Wine
- Give thought this week how the Spirit, the water, and the blood all testify to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- Focus your prayer time on the following passage: Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. John’s absolutes can be exhilarating and chilling at the same time, can’t they? Spend time with the Lord this week on affirming the testimony of Jesus Christ in your own heart and pray that the Spirit will help you relay that testimony to those who need it.