Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would 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. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” John 19:31-37
It was the Jewish custom that the dead should be buried the day they died. An unburied body would defile the land. When it came to religious practices of the lands they had conquered they were very practical as long as it did not conflict with Roman rule or order they would allow the conquered people to obey their religious practices and laws. Since the next day was a Sabbath and a Passover the Jewish authorities would not want the dead left on the cross over night. So they went to the Romans to hurry things up.
Death on a cross is not something that happens rapidly. It could take a day or more for a person to die on a cross. Crucifixion was a slow painful death. Eventually the person was so exhausted from pushing up to breath that they gave up and suffocated. So to hurry things along on that day the soldiers went to each of the three men and were going to break their legs. With broken legs they could no longer push up and would suffocate in short order.
But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead. There was no reason the break Jesus’ legs but the ever efficient Romans made sure Jesus was dead and they thrust a spear into Jesus’ side piercing His lung and His heart. If somehow Jesus had still been alive this would have guaranteed Jesus was dead before He was taken off the cross. What was done to Jesus makes the swoon theory of the resurrection look foolish. That a man could endure a Roman scourging, being nailed to a cross for hours and then have their lung punctured in two places as well as their heart punctured and live defies logic. When Jesus was taken down from the cross He was dead.
John was an eyewitness to the crucifixion. In today’s verses he writes what was done to Jesus and that Jesus was dead when He was taken off the cross. If there is one thing the Romans were very good at it was killing people. One of the reasons a Roman soldier would make sure a person convicted to crucifixion was that if they let the person live the soldier would be killed.
Jesus died on that cross that day, there can be no doubt. We have an eyewitness to the death and to execution was carried out by very capable and highly motivated soldier.
Have a blessed day,