Day 38 (Maundy Thursday – April 18, 2019)


John 19:31-37

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”


A popular version of Jesus’ resurrection is that he was taken from the cross in a coma and revived in the cool of the tomb. John’s personal record stands as testimony against this. Because it was the day of Preparation, for the Passover as well as the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders asked Pilate that the legs of the crucified men be broken.

An excruciating reality of crucifixion is that asphyxiation alone can cause death. The lungs are compressed by the outstretched arms and the downward weight of the body. Broken legs prevent the victim from breathing by pushing up from the feet.

As professional soldiers, the Roman crucifixion squad would have unhesitatingly carried out their gruesome work. They broke the legs of the men who were still alive on either side of Jesus. But seeing Jesus was already dead they thrust a spear into his side from which blood and water came out. John’s report is significant. If Jesus was not dead, blood alone would have flowed. To say he was in a coma is to ignore the equivalent of a sworn testimony from an eyewitness – John.

John again wants us to understand that Jesus’ death fulfilled the Scriptures. He was the unblemished lamb – none of the bones are to be broken (Numbers 9:12). He was also the Messiah of the house of David who would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10). Jesus is truly the lamb of God whose life was sacrificed as an atonement for sin; he is also God’s Messiah, the long promised king of the line of David.


Merciful God, you have made all men and women and hate nothing that you have made, nor do you desire the death of a sinner but rather that they should be converted and live: have mercy on all who do not know you, or who deny the faith of Christ crucified. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of your word; and bring them home to your fold, blessed Lord, so that they may become one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (BCP, Good Friday – adapted)

Daily Reading Plan

Read John 19:31-42