OceanSide church of Christ

Click here to see all of the YouTube videos belonging to OceanSide
(opens in a new browser)

 Previous Return to Sermons Next  Click to download Audio



The Day of Preparation before the Sabbath

John 19:31-37

Victor M. Eskew




A.    In our last lesson, Jesus died on the cross of Calvary.


B.      Two events happened immediately.

1.      The veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom.

2.      There was a great earthquake that was felt throughout the land.


C.     Had Jesus died on any other day than Friday, we would not be discussing our subject today:  “The Day of Preparation before the Sabbath.”


D.    John is the only gospel writer to record this particular part of the crucifixion narrative (John 19:31-27).


I.                   PERMISSION SOUGHT BY THE JEWS (John 19:31)


A.    Problem (John 19:31a)


The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for the sabbath day was a high day)…


1.      The Law of Moses ordered the removal of the bodies that were hung upon a tree that day (Deut. 21:22-23).


And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou shalt hang him on a tree:  his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.


2.      On this Friday, the need to remove the bodies of those crucified was even greater.

a.      The next day was the Sabbath.

1)      This was a holy day for the Jews (Exo. 20:8).

2)      It was also going to be “a high day.”  It was high or great because the Passover also fell on this day.

b.      Friday was “the preparation.”

1)      At 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the Jews began serious preparation for the Sabbath and the Passover was more involved in preparation.

2)      If the bodies remained on those crosses, the Law would be violated and the Sabbath would be defiled.


B.      Permission (John 19:31b)


…besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.


1.      The Jews were not in charge of the crucifixion.  All that was done had to go through Pilate.

2.      They asked Pilate to break the legs of the crucified ones.

a.      The legs were an important part of the torture of crucifixion.  The crucified individual would use his legs to push up on the nails in his feet in order to grasp a breath of air.

b.      When the legs were broken, this action could not be performed.  Very quickly, the criminal would suffocate and die.

c.       Robertson tells us that their legs were broken with a heavy mallet.  Can you imagine the additional pain that came from having one’s legs broken?  The only relief was that death would soon follow.


II.                PIERCED BY A SOLDIER (John 19:32-35)


A.    The Actions of the Soldiers (John 19:32-34)

1.      The criminal’s legs broken (John 19:32)


Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.


2.      The Christ’s legs not broken (John 19:33)


But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.


a.      There are some who doubt that Jesus really died on the cross.

b.      Here is the first evidence that He did.  The soldiers were so sure of it that they did not break Jesus’ legs.

3.      The Christ’s side was pierced (John 19:34).


But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.


a.      First, we are reminded of the cruelty of the Roman soldiers.

1)      This soldier knew Jesus was dead.

2)      Out of cruelty, he thrust his spear into the side of Jesus.

b.      The wound that was made in Jesus’ side was quite large.

1)      Some estimate it would have been 4 to 6 inches in length.

2)      The scar was deep enough for a man to put his hand into it (John 20:25).

c.       Out of His side came blood and water.

1)      Some believe the spear pierced the pericardium which is the fluid sack around the heart, thus producing water and blood.

2)      Others believe that this was a unique occurrence that happened only in the case of Jesus.

3)      NOTE:  We are inclined to believe the latter because of the verse that follows.


B.      The Affirmation of John (John 19:35)


And he that saw it bear record, and his record if true:  and he know that he saith true, that ye might believe.


1.      John affirms that what he saw is true.

2.      He even notes the event in his first epistle (I John 5:6a).


This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.


3.      The fact that water and blood flowed from the wound of Jesus served a purpose.  The purpose was that man “might believe.”

4.      Some have said that the water and blood indicate the close connection between baptism and the blood of Christ.  It is in the water of baptism that we touch the blood of Jesus Christ (See Rom. 6:6:3-4).

a.      “…baptized into his death.”

b.      “…buried with him by baptism into death…”


III.             PROPHECIES (John 19:36-37)


A.    A multitude of Scriptures had been fulfilled during the hours of the crucifixion.  Two more were fulfilled at this time (John 19:36a).


For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled…


B.      The fulfillment involved two different types of prophecies.

1.      The fulfillment of a type (John 19:36b)


…A bone of him shall not be broken.


a.      This reference involves the Passover Lamb (Exo. 12:46).

1)      The Passover Lamb was a lamb without blemish or spot.

2)      It was a Lamb whose blood enabled the Jews to be free from death.

3)      This lamb when prepared as a sacrifice was not to have a bone of its body broken.

b.      Jesus is our Paschal lamb (I Cor. 5:7b)


…For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.


1)      Jesus was a perfect Lamb, having no blemish or spot.

2)      He enables us to be free from the second death, that is, punishment in the lake of fire and brimstone.

3)      Not one of His bones was broken during the crucifixion.

2.      The fulfillment of a prophetic voice (John 19:37)


And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.


a.      These words are recorded by Zechariah in Zechariah 12:10.

b.      Many looked upon the pierced Son of God.

1.      The Jews

2.      The Roman soldiers

3.      The women who followed Jesus

4.      John, the disciple of Christ


C.     Barnes:  “We must here be struck with the wonderful providence of God, that so many scriptures were fulfilled in his death. All these things happened without any such design on the part of the men engaged in these scenes; but whatever was done by Jew or Gentile tended to the fulfillment of prophecies long on record, and with which the Jews themselves ought to have been familiar” (e-sword).






A.    Even after Jesus has died, His body was still subject to cruel treatment.


B.      Too, Jesus continued to fulfill prophecy after prophecy. 

1.      The Jews, especially the Jewish leaders, should have recognized these prophecies.

2.      Their hearts, however, were so hard that they missed every one of them.


C.     The fulfillment of prophecy will not end here.  Jesus will continue to bring to pass the sayings of the seers of old as we witness His burial in our next lesson.