Their Death Rituals - John 19:31
November 15, 2023, 1:00 PM

“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.”

All was accomplished by Christ on the cross, but not all was completed to fulfill the prophecies. The religious community needed to make a request.

Crucifixion by the cross was practiced by the Persians, Carthaginians, and the Romans. They let the birds eat the flesh of the dead criminals by leaving the bodies up on the crosses. But in Palestine the Jews were offended at that pagan custom since it went against their laws. Deut. 21:22-23 “If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

Since nightfall officially brought in the Sabbath, it was especially important for them to fulfill the law so no work was done after the sun sets. Interesting how scrupulously they kept the law while calling for an innocent man’s death. They were more concerned with the religious practices than with God. They wanted to be holy while killing the Son of God. They wanted to honor the Lord in their actions while they shouted blasphemies and unleashed hatred at Jesus. Yet it was the this very suffering and death which was and is the avenue to true holiness.

Breaking the legs of the executed was a way of speeding up the crucifixion. Since men could lift up their bodies from time to time to get their breath by pushing down on the nails within their feet, it would give relief but also prolong their death. When the soldiers saw the two thieves still alive, they took a large mallet and shattered their legs with a blow making it impossible to breath. With the additional shock and pain to the system, death was very quick. When they saw Jesus was already dead, they did not break His legs. This was according to prophecy, that not a bone of His would be broken. If He had lived any longer, He would have been a victim of this practice.

It was just at the 3 o’clock hour that all the requirements through the non-believers was completed. God used the Jewish practice and the insistence on their part to fulfill Scripture. Believer, non-believer, Jew, Gentile, men, and women fulfilled the plan of God.

Application: How often in your life can you look back and see the hand of God in details that you didn’t think about at the time? How often has He used events to open doors or close doors that were clearly His guidance and purpose?

God also used and still uses those who do not love Him to bring about His purposes.

Prayer: Lord, I can’t help but worship You when I ponder how perfectly the truths expressed in Romans 8:28 come into play in my life, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." We worship You!