Not One of His Bones Shall Be Broken

By: Zach Collins

I want to engage your imagination for a moment. Imagine with me that you have been tasked with picking up a person from the train station. Her name is Maggie Smith. It is a seemingly simple task, but there is a small issue that complicates this task: You have never met Maggie Smith. If you are going to pick up the right person from the train station, what would you need? A description. You would need to know pertinent details of this person’s physical appearance, and details about their life, to identify the right person to pick up from the train station.   

In the Old Testament, God told the descendants of Abraham of a special person that was coming to bring them salvation and reconciliation. He was called the Christ, or the Messiah. Their hope hung upon His cross, as the righteous of the past, present, and future would enter Heaven’s gates by His blood (c.f., Hebrews 9:15). He was the most important person in their life, but they had never met Him! So, God provided them, through the writings of the prophets, the information they needed to identify the Christ, or the Messiah. These writings are called messianic prophecies. Throughout the pages of the Old Testament, these prophecies provide us with many important details about the life of Jesus. For a moment, contemplate the prophecies of His birth. The Jews were told that Jesus would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). In fact, they were told which city Jesus would be born to a virgin, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Amazingly, they were even told what cloth Jesus would be wrapped in after His birth, swaddling cloth (Ezekiel 16:4). These prophecies were written hundreds of years before His birth. 

The prophecies of the Old Testament are the circle of the Bible, bringing us important information and building our faith in their revelation. However, the prophets not only spoke of the cradle of Christ, they also spoke of the cross of Christ. In Psalm 22:16, David prophesied the mode of His death, “They pierced My hands and My feet”, that is, crucifixion. Can we appreciate the magnitude of this prophecy? This prophecy was written by David in, approximately, 1000 BC. Most estimate that crucifixion was not invented and used systemically until, at the earliest, 600 BC. Isn’t this amazing? Many hundreds of years before the invention of crucifixion by the Persians, David prophesied that Jesus would die this torturous death. The mistreatment of Jesus is prophesied in detail, including the spitting and the pulling of His beard before it happened (c.f., Isaiah 50:6; Mark 10:34). 

To me, one of the most chilling prophesies of crucifixion is found in the inspired pen of David, when he wrote, in Psalm 34:20, “He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.” Customarily, it was the practice by the Romans to break the legs of the victims of crucifixion to expedite the process of death. This practice made breathing more difficult and would cause the victim to die quicker. This was true of Jesus’ crucifixion. In John 19:31-36, the Romans soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the others who was crucified with Him (v. 32). But, when they came to Jesus, He was already dead. They did not break His legs (v. 33). Why? The inspired John gave us the explanation, in v. 36, “For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.”  

The Creator of the Universe instructed His creation, through the Old Testament, to look for the Messiah who would create the opportunity for salvation and reconciliation in our lives. He gave us important details and descriptions that would help us identify the Savior. One of those minute details is that, in His death of crucifixion, not one of His bones shall be broken. About 1,000 years later, this prophecy was fulfilled and matches perfectly with Jesus’ death on the cross. 

Meditate on these things.