Friday in Holy Week
Scripture: St. John 19:25-37 (NKJV)
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
Jesus completed what He came to do, as evidenced by His final loud cry of “It is fi nished!” As further proof of God’s providential control over all things the Christ “gave up His spirit.” Suggesting an act of will on His part as opposed to being “overtaken” by death.
The Passover meal had been on Thursday evening, the day of Preparation is Friday, and the approaching Sabbath is the special high holy Sabbath of Passover. The Jews do not want bodies hanging on crosses on this day so they ask to have the legs broken to hasten death. Blood and water flow from Jesus’ pierced side as solemn testimony that Jesus is already dead, the result of the spear piercing the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart) and the heart itself. In this blood and water some see symbolism pointing to the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. John obviously considered the incident important, and comments that it was well attested. John is divinely inspired to record God’s ruling over of these events as the fulfillment of Scripture.
It was extraordinary that Jesus was the only one of the three whose legs were not broken and that He suffered an unusual spear thrust that did not break a bone. John tells us that all of this takes place that the Scripture might be fulfilled. This reference to fulfillment of Scripture is either to the Passover lamb of Exodus and/or to Psalm 34, which speaks of God’s care for the righteous in delivering him out of his afflictions: “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” For Jesus is the Holy (Righteous) One of God Who is also the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.