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The Gospel of John: Manifesting God’s Glory Book 5

Jesus manifested God's glory through 8 miraculous signs in the gospel of John. These are a revelation of the feast of tabernacles.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 11

Death and Burial

John 19:31 says,

31 Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation [Abib 14], so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

The law in Deuteronomy 21:22, 23 commands,

22 If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

The chief priests were concerned that the three being crucified might remain on the tree beyond sunset, when the Sabbath day began. It was unlawful for anyone to remain hanging beyond the day on which he was executed, but this particular Sabbath was “a high day,” that is, it was also a feast day (Passover, Abib 15), and the first day of Unleavened Bread.

For this reason, the chief priests sent messengers to Pilate to get authorization to break the legs of the three in order to hasten their deaths. By breaking their legs, those being crucified would be unable to lift up their bodies to catch their breath, for when they hung by their wrists, their breath was cut off.

John 19:33-35 continues,

33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.

It was apparent to the soldiers that Jesus had already died, for He was hanging limply by His wrists. So they “did not break His legs” but instead “pierced His side with a spear.” John himself was an eyewitness of these things, and so “his testimony is true.”

John 19:36, 37 gives us the prophetic reason for this, saying,

36 for these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture [Psalm 34:20], “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture [Zech. 12:10] says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

The first Scripture that John quoted is from Psalm 34:19, 20,

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.

Bones give the body structure and definition and thus represent the laws of God. The prophecy above is based upon the fact that throughout His life and ministry, Jesus never broke the law. Likewise, even in His death, the law and the prophecies were fulfilled. Hence, none of His bones were broken.

If we may scrutinize this even more closely, we may identify bones with the soul, as Heb. 4:12 says. The word of God divides bone from marrow, which speaks of soul and spirit. In other words, the fact that none of Jesus’ bones were broken means that His soul never violated the law.

The second Scripture fulfilled above is from Zechariah 12:10,

10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly [marar] over Him like the bitter [marar] weeping over a firstborn.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was of the house of David, as was her husband, Joseph. She was among the first to “weep bitterly” for her “only son,” her “Firstborn,” at the cross. Mary’s name is suggested in the word marar, translated “bitterly” and again as “bitter.”

Mary herself is like a second Eve, who was “the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20). On the downside, Mary’s identification with Eve brought her the grief that is the result of sin, as the sword pierced her soul (Luke 2:35). No doubt we are to understand that at the moment the soldier’s spear pierced Jesus’ side, her soul was also pierced.

On the upside, however, Mary’s identification with Eve also meant that she would give birth to “her seed” (Gen. 3:15), the Descendant who was called to bruise the head of the serpent. Mary was that woman who gave birth to Jesus, whose death and resurrection crushed the head of the serpent.

The prophecy in Zechariah also speaks of “the Spirit of grace and of supplication” (i.e., prayer). This may have reference, at least indirectly, to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. However, the main focus appears to be the day of crucifixion, where grace was manifested along with the answers to prayer of generations in the past.

Grace implies a sovereign act of God, as seen in Romans 11:5, 6. Supplication, entreaty, or prayer was made since the beginning by all of creation, which has groaned in travail, awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19, 22). When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He declared the inevitability of creation’s full redemption, imputing the result as if it were an accomplished fact.

It would, of course, take time and more work for that victory to unfold, but the result was assured the moment Jesus died to pay for the sin of the world.