During the Biblical times, people associated blood with life. There was a prohibition of the consumption of blood with meat. God commanded Noah after the deluge, “Only meat with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat” (Gen 9:4). Later, God ordered the Israelites, “No one among you, not even a resident alien, may consume blood” (Lev 17:12) because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev 17:11).
Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus established the Holy Eucharist as part of his last Passover celebration. During that time, he transubstantiated the bread as his body and wine as his blood and asked the apostles to consume them. Thus, he shared his life with them. Jesus asked the apostles to continue the new Passover celebration in his remembrance, replacing the past Passover from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan with the new Passover from the bondage of Satan and sin to the new promised land of heaven.
Jesus physically separated his flesh and blood at the time of his crucifixion like the priests who separated them for the sacrificial lambs in the Temple. A soldier thrust a spear on the chest of Jesus to break his heart, assuring that he was dead. The blood, from the heart along with the fluid of the pericardium that surrounds the heart, flowed down. John presents this as a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10: “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.” The water stands for baptism and the blood for the Holy Eucharist; both are the last gifts of Jesus for our salvation.
Symbolic interpretations are given for the water and blood that came from the heart of Jesus. Water represents baptism and blood stands for the Holy Eucharist. This interpretation was confirmed in the vision of Sr. Faustina, who helped to propagate the Divine Mercy. Some believe that just as Adam’s side was opened to create Eve, God opened the side of Jesus to generate the church. Church uses the water (baptism) and blood (Holy Eucharist) of Jesus to give spiritual birth and to initiate to Christian life. Through the baptismal water, Jesus cleans the stains of original sins and through the Eucharistic body and blood, he nourishes our soul for eternal life.
Though blood represented life and God prohibited consuming the blood of any living being, Jesus offered his body and blood for his followers to consume. Thus, we share his life when we receive the Holy Eucharist. He wants us to continue his sacrificial life in the world through our service. The sacrifice of Jesus led to his glorification. He promised the same glory for those follow his footsteps.