Jesus dismissed His spirit at three o’clock, about the time the Passover lambs were being slaughtered, although the horrific agony went from twelve o’clock to three o’clock. From nine to twelve He was hanging on the Cross, but then it turned dark. Now, interestingly enough, in verse 31 to 37, the Roman soldiers did not do what they were commanded to do. We see, “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, 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.” As you know breaking their legs would prevent them from holding themselves up. Again, the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association describes this very reality. When He is inhaling, He is having to push down because inhalation is active in normal breathing but is passive in a crucified victim.
So, to exhale, which is passive in normal breathing, becomes active in a crucifixion, you have to push down to do that. Of course, that becomes an agonizing process. So, the cruelty of this death is caused by your instinct to live. You see the idea there? The only way that you could hasten the crucifixion, then, would be to break the legs so that the victim could no longer push Himself up.
So, they wanted to get Him down for the high, holy day, because, as you know, the Jewish day was from six o’clock to six o’clock. So, Jesus, by the way, was crucified on Nisan 14, which is the day of Passover and He was crucified at the same time as the Passover animals were being slaughtered in the temple. This was not an accident. He was raised, and not accidentally, on the feast of First Fruit and He sent the gift of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the symbolic meaning of the feast of Pentecost. All of these fulfillments took place. Let me continue on in our text. “So the soldiers came along and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” Now, if we turn to Zechariah chapter 12, we see in verse ten, “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 over Him, like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” As I understand it, this is an image of how the people of God will eventually acknowledge that this was really the One who was their Messiah. Also, in Revelation chapter one, you see this imagery as well. In verse seven, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So, it is to be. Amen.”
So, the piercing is the fulfillment if the Scripture in Zechariah. It is intriguing to me that by not breaking His legs, they fulfilled Exodus chapter 12, which said that not a bone was to be broken in the Passover lamb. It is also repeated in Numbers chapter 9, verse 12. But, they did do what they were not supposed to do, and that was piercing His side. But, by so doing, they fulfilled the prophecy inadvertently. Now, John makes an unusual comment next, but there is a good reason for it. In verse 34, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and immediately blood and water came out. 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.” I think that he is saying this here as proof that Jesus did have a real body. It is proof of that. In 1st John chapter one, verses one to four is really a commentary on how he saw and beheld. He experienced a real death, then, and this is to counteract an early form of Gnosticism that actually denied that Jesus was the Christ, and this developed more and more in the second and third centuries with these Gnostic Gospels.
Now, he goes on to say, “For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘Not a bone of Him shall be broken’.” Verse 38 reads, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.” It is interesting that from this point on no unbelievers touched the body of Jesus. Once He had accomplished His work, no unbelievers touched His body. God, I think, prepared these two very influential men, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, to prepare His body for burial. Otherwise, the body would have been carried off and thrown in a ditch, along with the other thieves. I think this a clear fulfillment of Isaiah chapter 53, another text we were looking at earlier. Specifically, in verse nine, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.”
So, again we see the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. It is interesting that Joseph and Nicodemus had enough cloth and spices necessary for His burial. We also know that Mary and the other women planned to return after the Sabbath and complete the burial procedures. We see this in each of the Synoptic Gospels, although it is not recorded in John. Now, the text goes on to say, “So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.” A new tomb like that, hewn out of the rock, would have been a very expensive proposition. “Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” Jesus finished the work of a new creation. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away, and behold, new things have come.
So, now He would rest as the Sabbath was about to begin. Then, on the third day, He would rise from the dead. Let me point out something here. A lot of people are troubled with this idea of three days and three nights, thinking He was going to in the grave three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. How, then, could He have been crucified on Friday and raised from the dead on Sunday, if it is supposed to be three days and three nights? The answer to that is that is a Jewish idiom. There are a number of texts, for example, in Esther, which talks about how they prayed for three days and three nights, and then it says, “On the third day.” Here is how it worked. In the Jewish reckoning, and it is even in the Talmud, a portion of a day shall be reckoned as a whole.
So, you had a portion of the first day, all of the second day, and a portion of the third day. That is three days and three nights in the Jewish idiom.
So, this indicates a Friday crucifixion and I think it holds best with the text. Now that we have tied these threads together, are there any closing questions? Please state them below.
He did not die of asphyxiation, but rather He gave up His spirit. Asphyxiation, that is to say, the inability to breathe would finally take over. A person could only hold themselves up so long pushing themselves up by digging their heels in, so, this an another prophesy fulfilled all the way back in Genesis as a matter of fact the very first prophesy that was prophesied. Look it will you? Typically the victim would die from an inability to breathe. This could often take many hours and the Jews, knowing this, had to hasten that process because they wanted the bodies off before sunset because that was the beginning of a high day and it was associated with the Sabbath connected to the Passover.
Yes, He chose to die. I think that is why the Centurion said, when he saw the way Jesus died, “Surely, this Man is the Son of God.” My point is that a Centurion, who does the grisly work of execution again, and again, and again, said, basically, that this one is different. He never saw anyone die as this Man died. You see the point there?
So, that is an extra addition that would intimate that Jesus, having said it was finished, then said, with a loud voice, “Into Your hands I commend My spirit.” Then He breathed His last. Again, I think it illustrates the point that, “No one takes My life from Me. I have the authority to pick it up and I have the authority to lay it down.” I think there is a consistency about that and it would make perfect sense. He did die a real death, but He died volitionally (A conscious choice or decision), not as a tragedy, but as a Savior. He came for this purpose and it was His submission to His Father’s will, so we can now actually have a relationship with God. Keep in mind that Christ did not die for our sins merely to cleanse our sins. That is the basis on which He can now have a fellowship with us. The cleansing of sin is needful, but that is only the means by which He could be restored to an intimacy with us. Do you see that point? It is the means for the restoration of a right relationship. We now have peace with God, before we did not.