1 John 5:4-10
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
In the name of + Jesus.
Having a single witness will do, but two witnesses are better. Two witnesses are better, but a third witness is the clincher. This is true in a court of law, where three witnesses who agree in their testimony for/against a defendant would be enough to sway any jury. This was also true in the Old Testament, where Deuteronomy tells us of the need for “two or three witnesses” (17:6; 19:15). You can almost hear it in the words of our LORD through the prophet Moses, “two is good, but three will convict.”
Jesus had promised to give the Holy Spirit after His ascension. And this Spirit would be the helper, Jesus tells us, for “he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). So, there is one witness that points us to the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. And that witness of the Spirit would be enough.
But if one is enough, two is better, and a third is convincing. And so, to the Holy Spirit, our LORD has attached the water and the blood. The Spirit, the water, and the blood, these three agree; these three agree and that each of them testifies—bears witness—to the saving work of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Baptismal waters cleanse us because the deliver the benefits of the blood. The blood shed on the cross was the payment for our sins, and that payment is credited to us when we have “our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). Water and blood go together with the testimony of the Spirit as three witnesses that “sharing in the common task of offering all-important, mutually reinforcing testimony to the summing and final significance of the person and work of the man Jesus, the Christ/Son of God” (Schuchard, 1-3 John, p. 537).
The above window, and much ancient artwork, captures this idea. When Jesus was crucified, his side was pierced, and “at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). The spirit takes that water and that blood and uses it to deliver to you forgiveness, life and salvation. The waters of Holy Baptism connect you to the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6), and the blood of the chalice is offered to you for the forgiveness of sins. And both are used by the Spirit to point you to Jesus, to testify of Jesus, and together, they convince us that this faith is the faith which overcomes the world.
If one will do, and two are good, since “the Spirit, and the water and the blood” together are three, together they are the three that convince us of the victory which is ours in Jesus.
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Heavenly Father, let us abide forever in Christ and never doubt the testimony You have given about Your beloved Son. Amen (TLSB, p. 2180).