They Did Not Break His Legs
THEY DID NOT BREAK HIS LEGS
John 19: 31—37
When you think of the crucifixion of Christ the first thing that probably pops into your mind is the suffering.
- His crucifixion was horrible.
- The ridicule and mockery, the physical pain, and the hatred and jealousy would be excruciating; only to be made worse by the denial and betrayal of those who were supposed to have loved Him.
- His crucifixion was truly horrible; and so when we think of the crucifixion of Christ the suffering is probably the first thing that comes to mind.
But there is so much more to the cross other than just the suffering, the cruelty and the dying.
And what I want to do is show you just a part of the crucifixion that the people in the day the crucifixion took place apparently did not comprehend.
- And it is something that many of us may not see and understand today.
- And yet, it is something that should give us a tremendous amount of hope and assurance or in some instances it will perhaps be a warning.
Look at the passage that was read again and notice starting in verse 32.
32 The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs;
Now, as far as I know this is the only mention in the gospel accounts of the fact that they did not break Jesus’ legs.
- In verse 31 we are told it is the “day of preparation” for the Sabbath.
- And because they didn’t want any bodies left on the cross on the Sabbath day…what they would do is they would come along and check those who had been crucified.
- And if they were not dead, they would break their legs.
And according to some scholars, the reason they would break their legs is because what the people who were crucified could do is push up with their legs which enabled them to catch their breath…and to relieve the discomfort some.
- But by breaking their legs they couldn’t do that.
That may be true, but one thing is for sure, by breaking their legs that increased the injury and often sent the body into deeper shock.
- And thereby, hastened the individual’s death.
So, they were checking each one who had been crucified and if they were still alive, they were breaking their legs…but when they came to Jesus…He was already dead…and so they didn’t break His legs.
But there is something more significant to the fact that they didn’t break His legs than just the fact that He was already dead.
- Look at verse 36: For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.”
The fact that they didn’t break His legs or His bones is a fulfillment of Scripture.
- And the fact that they don’t break His legs…tells us something.
- What is it?
Well, look at Psalm 34: 20.
- This is the verse that John in John 19 applies to Christ; that John says is “fulfilled in Christ.”. Look what it says. It says:
20 He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken.
- So what does this tell us about Christ? And about the crucifixion.
Well, look at the context of these words starting in verse 19:
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.
- The bones in this passage belong to the one who is “righteous in the sight of God” and that is what John is saying about Christ.
- Those people in John 19 who crucified Christ wanted everyone to believe that they were crucifying a common criminal…a traitor.
- And worse than that they wanted people to think He was a blasphemer…a sinner of the worst kind.
But John says, “That is not at all that He was. The fact that they didn’t break His bones is God’s way of declaring Him as being “innocent” or “righteous.”
But there is more. Look at verse 21: Evil shall slay the wicked; And those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants; And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
The fact that Jesus’ legs were not broken declared Him as righteous and those who crucified Him as wicked!
When word came to them that they didn’t have to break Jesus’ legs that should have said something to them!
- It should have said, “Oh, no, you just crucified God’s righteous One.!”
- “And because you did, you are condemned and doomed to die by your own wickedness.”
- This should have alarmed them….and made them realize their error.
- But sadly…it didn’t.
Look at this. In Acts 2 starting in verse 22, the apostle Peter tells these very same people what they did…and who it was they had crucified.
- And in verse 37 it says that “the people were pierced to the heart and cried out “What shall we do?”
- And Peter tells them in verse 38 to “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
- And verse 41 says that there were “added that day about 3000 souls “ that were saved.
- And we think, “Wow, 3000 in one day.”
- But, when you consider the whole of Jerusalem…
- And all those who were there the day He was crucified….3000 doesn’t seem to be very many.
Listen, most of the people still refused to acknowledge their sin.
- And most of them still refused to repent.
- And most of them refused to recognize Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
- And most of them refused to be baptized.
- And as a result, their own wickedness would destroy them.
And that begs us to ask the question today…what about you/I?
- Are you/I still refusing to acknowledge our sin?
- Are you/I still refusing to repent?
- Are you/I still refusing to name Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
- Are you/I still refusing to be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins.
- Are you/I still condemned by our own wickedness and subject to be destroyed?
This whole thing took place so that you may be saved.
- For your sake, do not deny its purpose.
But there is more behind the fact that they did not “break his legs.”
- Look at Exodus chapter 12.
By the time you get to chapter 12 here, God has already tried 9 times to get Pharaoh to let His people go.
- And 9 times Pharaoh refused.
- So God would send one more, very strong message to Pharaoh.
- Chapter 11:4 tells us that “about midnight, the Lord would go into all the midst of Egypt, and all the first born in the land of Egypt would die.”
- Whether it was the first born of Pharaoh, or the first born of the slave girl, or the first born of the cattle, all would die.
But God would make provision for His people to escape this plague of death.
- In chapter 12 God speaks to Moses…and He tells Moses to tell the people that on the 10th of the month they are to each take a lamb for themselves…each household…and keep it.
- And it was to be an unblemished lamb…God didn’t want their rejects.
- God was worthy of their best.
It was to be a male lamb…symbolic of strength.
- And it was to be a lamb, a year old…symbolic of life and vigor.
And on the 14th day of the month, all the people together, every household together, was to kill their lamb just at twilight.
- And they were to take some of the blood of the lamb and put it on the two door posts and on the lintel of their houses.
- And then they were to roast the lamb with fire and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, that same night.
- Leaving none left over.
And I want you to notice now verse 46:
“It is to be eaten in a single house; your are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.”
Now, if they obeyed these instructions look at what would happen; vs. 13.
“And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
This was their only way of escape!
- If they didn’t put the blood of this lamb on the door posts and lintels of their houses…then there would be no “passing over” of death…and the first born of the house would die.
- And, if they didn’t prepare the lamb as they were supposed to…and eat of it as they were supposed too…there would be no deliverance from bondage.
This “Passover Lamb” was God’s will, and it was their only way of escape from death and bondage.
- And it was their only hope for life and a new beginning!
Now, none of this would have any bearing on us if it were not for these words found in 1 Cor. 5: 7 where Paul says that “Christ is our Passover.”
- When Paul makes this statement, do you know what that makes Christ?
- It makes Christ’s death the will of God…and it makes Christ our only escape from death and the bondage of sin.
You see, back in Exodus, the Israelites weren’t allowed to have altars to offer up sacrifices on.
- So when they put the “blood of the Passover lamb” on the door posts and the lintels of their houses… they turned them into altars.
- And when they put the blood of that lamb up on the door posts and the lintel…that indicated that an atonement for sin was being made…since you always sprinkled blood on the horns of the altar when atoning for sin.
And because Paul says that Christ is our Passover…and His blood was shed on the cross…that makes the cross an altar.
- And that makes Christ an atonement sacrifice for sin to anyone who partakes of Him.
And that is another reason why His legs were not broken!
- To remind us…to confirm to us that He is OUR PASSOVER LAMB.
Now, once again, there are two sides to this.
- For those of you who have come to Christ…and who have been washed by His blood at baptism…the fact that He is God’s righteous One and Our Passover Lamb…will hopefully encourage you to remain faithful to Him…even unto death.
- Your faith is not misplaced…and no matter what might come…or befall your physical body…you grow in your commitment and remain devoted to Him.
But now, here is the other side of the picture.
- When they crucified Him in John 17…the people at that time didn’t see or comprehend who He was.
- When they came and “did not break His bones”, the people still did not see who He was.
- Even though they had been told by the prophets of old…they denied who He was and rejected Him.
- Years later, even after Christ was raised from the tomb…and ascended into heaven…and even after the apostles once again told the people that Jesus was the Passover Lamb…they still rejected Him and denied Him.
- Consequently, they would be destroyed…because deliverance is found only for those who have received atonement by the Passover Lamb.
And the question is: What about you?
- His blood was shed on the altar on a hill called Golgatha…to atone for your sins.
- It is only through Him that you can escape the condemnation of your sins.
- It is only through Him that you can be delivered from the eternal punishment of your soul.
- And it is only through Him that you can have a new beginning.
- People for centuries, in spite of who He is, have rejected Him.
- The question, for some of you this morning is, will you.
- When the Lord comes in judgment, will you die in your sins.
- Or will you let the blood of the Lamb wash away your sins and give you eternal life?
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023