Read John 19:31-42
31Now 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. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The 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. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," 37and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."
38Later, 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. 39He 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. 40Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41At 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. 42Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (NIV)
We get John’s account of Jesus’ death confirmation and disposition of Jesus’ body. As I have stated before, John’s timeline is that the Passover is still to be celebrated. This makes the day after Christ’s death a “special Sabbath.” It is both Passover and Sabbath as the two converge on the same day of the week. This puts Jesus’ death on Friday according to John and is the traditional day we remember his death, “Good Friday.”
John gives us some details that are missing from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the synoptic gospels. John tells us of the breaking of the legs of the two crucified with Jesus. John tells us that Jesus’ side was pierced by a spear and John tells us that blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side. The first of these, the breaking of legs of the two, but not Jesus was important for John to point out as if fulfills what was said of Jesus. The piercing of the side also fulfills what was said of the Messiah. John throughout his Gospel points to who Jesus really is. There is no question throughout the Gospel.
It is the third item that is interesting, the blood and water image. Many doctors have written over the years that this was a sign of a ruptured heart. It is an image that many latch on to, Jesus died of a broken heart. He carried our sin which broke his heart. But that is not what John is trying to point out. I don’t know if John even knew this. What is critical to John and has been consistent in his Gospel, is this point to Jesus’ humanity. Jesus was fully human. He became one of us to die for us. In John’s life, there were those going around claiming that Jesus was not human and that he really didn’t die. They claim he was spirit and that he switched places with one of the guards. Others claimed that Jesus lifted off the cross and looked down on the people and laughed. But for John, these claims are nonsense. Jesus was fully God and fully human. His death was a real human death.
We get the story of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin. This is a strange part as they would have been present during the questioning of Jesus. This means they were probably silent during the whole ordeal. The question is raised, can there be a secret disciple. Our discipleship is to demonstrate to others the power and love of Christ through our own lives. In this act of taking Jesus’ body and placing it in a nearby tomb was the beginning act of these two moving from secret disciple to full disciple. I think we all move from this way in our walk. We seek Jesus, but are afraid to let others know we are seeking Jesus. But there comes a moment when we are ready to proclaim to the world we are a follower of Jesus.
As you read this account, what strikes you the most about this Scripture and your walk with Christ? What does is mean to you that Christ was pierced for our transgression? Where are you in your discipleship journey?
Blessings and Peace