John 19:31-33, NIV
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was
to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the
bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked
Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first
man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the
other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was
already dead, they did not break his legs.


April 28, 2012
It was all over now except to get the bodies down from the crosses.
The soldiers knew how to speed up the process. To make sure their
victims were dead, they broke their legs. It had to do with the breathing
process while hanging from the cross, and heaving themselves
upwards to catch a breath. They couldn't do this if their legs were
broken. Was the breaking of legs a blessing or an added brutality?

When the soldiers came to Jesus, they knew he was already dead and
did not need to break his legs. Why is this important enough to include
in the Gospel account? Because of the scriptures in verse 36.

There are so many ironies. The day of preparation for worship and for
learning the holy scriptures. The special Sabbath that was a part of
the week-long Passover Festival. All this holy stuff--activities, habits
and rituals. In the midst of it all they crucified the Son of God! And it
didn't bother their collective conscience.

However, don't mar our religious formalities by leaving dead bodies in
public view at the start of the Sabbath. They could kill, they just couldn't
leave the bodies hang after sundown! This is so ugly. Such a strange
sense of what is right and what is wrong.

 

                                           John 19:34-37, NIV
34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear,
bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw
it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that
he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled:
"Not one of his bones will be broken," 37 and, as another
scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."


April 29, 2012
Instead of breaking the legs of Jesus, someone gave him a swift whack
into the side of his body. Was it just to make sure Jesus was dead?
Did a soldier do it simply because he could? With no constraints on
their behavior, maybe one of them was just making sport, fooling
around, letting off stream.

Those who were watching had a surprise coming. Both blood and water
issued from the side of Jesus. The footnote in my study Bible explains
that the spear must have pierced the pericardium (holding watery fluid)
and the heart. Not an everyday occurrence; bystanders took notice.

Believers saw God's hand in this. They found verses in the ancient
Scriptures which foretold exactly what had happened. Even after his
death, Jesus was fulfilling the ancient prophesies.

 

                                              John 19:38-42, NIV
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.
Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he
feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the
body away.

39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had
visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and
aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus' body, the
two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This
was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been
laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since
the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.


April 30, 2012
We notice that everything about this crucifixion was done with Pilate's
permission. Checking in with the Roman governor before doing
anything must have been loathsome. But people do what the situation
requires.

Several factors are coming together now. Joseph of Arimathea, a
wealthy and respected citizen, was a secret disciple. Something about
the death of Jesus made him go public with his beliefs. Nicodemus
had similar credentials to those of Joseph. We first met him in John
chapter 3, when he came to see Jesus one night under cover of
darkness.

Suddenly both of these men are charged up and they join forces to
give Jesus a respectable burial. It was more than adequate. It was a
rich man's burial, complete with a brand new tomb. And an abundance
of spices to cover the bruised and massively battered body. Who
owned the tomb and how much it cost were not their concern. Rich men
can buy anything.

Preparing a dead body for burial was usually women's work. But here
Joseph and Nicodemus take the strips of linen and wrap the body with
the myrrh and aloes. Their fears have been replaced with bold initiative,
maybe even gentle and loving actions.

I cheer for Joseph of Arimathea and for Nicodemus. They finally
exposed what was in their hearts. Everyone could see their loving
devotion to Jesus and they didn't care who saw them. With the smell
of the spices on their hands, stains on their clothing, sore muscles and
dirty feet, they were going to be late for the traditional Passover rituals.
In fact, because they had touched a dead body, they would not be
allowed to participate at all. They were "unclean." Unclean yet fully alive!

Jewish people who believed in Jesus were rejected by the respectable
community. Which is why these two men kept their interest in Jesus
a secret. To be excluded from one's peers is a hurtful and lonely
prospect. By preparing Jesus for burial, they had crossed a line over
which they could never return. They had finally experienced the
eternal life Jesus had spoken so much about, and at the same time
they lost the life they had always known.

Jesus had talked about that one time. He said, "Whoever finds his life
will lose it, and whoever who loses his life for my sake will find it."
--Matthew 10:39

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