“Now 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. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The 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. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” Later, 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. He 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. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At 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. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. ” (John 19:31–42, NIV)Crucifixion is an agonizingly painful death because it is slow. After hours of hanging by the nails pierced in your hands, occasionally drawing the strength to ignore the pain in order to push yourself up with your legs so that you can catch a breath, eventually it is too much and your body collapses over your lungs and you suffocate to death. In order to expedite the process, the soldiers would take a hammer to the femur, eliminating the ability lift up for a breath and death comes more quickly.
There is nothing pretty about this process and when the soldiers came to Jesus to perform the inhumane duty, they found it would not be necessary. He was already dead. But to make sure, they drove a spear through His side and into His heart causing blood and water to flow from the wound. Like many of the events of the life of Christ, all these things happened according to the prophesy spoken hundreds of years before the events actually took place.
And why is this important. John tells us, “this testimony is given so that you also may believe.” You see, these events are being recorded based on eyewitness accounts. They are telling you just what they saw that day and they even go as far as to help you understand that what they saw was expected long before it ever happened.
You and I were not there to see it with our own eyes. And for most of us, we do not know the Bible well enough to understand what the Old Testament saints had written that spoke of these events to come. But John is writing so that you can hear it from someone who was there and who also lived with an understanding of what God said would someday take place. This person is telling you why he believed so that you may also believe.
The greatest tragedy in the world would be for an event of such significance for the whole of humanity to disappear into oblivion. If no one tells the story, eventually, the story will be forgotten. Take the time this week to tell someone why you believe. If you are reading this and you do not believe, ask someone who does why they came to their conclusion. The least you can do is make an informed decision. Ignorance does not absolve any of us from guilt.
Listen to the story. Tell the story. Look with eyes of faith so that you may also believe.