John 19:31-37 On Their Schedule or His?

(What God sets in motion can’t be stopped, and His plans are always awesome!)

Jesus has breathed His last. Those watching knew it the instant He departed from them but the religious leaders didn’t stick around to witness His final moments. Instead they went to try and hurry things along. They wanted to stay on schedule for their Passover celebration.

John’s account of the day confirms for me that Jesus was indeed killed at the time of the Passover sacrifice. This would also explain the religious leaders’ absence at the moment of His death. They first went to Pilate to speed things along and then went to perform the annual sacrifice.

The religious leaders didn’t want to kill Jesus until after the holiday originally but when the opportunity to take Him was only good during this time frame they took it. But things had to move quickly in order for them not to mess up their own holiday plans. Hence the speedy trial and rush to crucifixion. This was also the reason they didn’t enter Pilate’s court. There was no time for the necessary purification rituals if they didn’t remain “pure.”

Passover was one of THE most important holidays in the Jewish faith. Everything had to be done according to a prescribed plan that God Himself set down. One of the things they had to avoid was someone “hanging on a tree” for longer than sundown. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says; ““If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.” The bodies HAD to come down to prevent defiling Passover.

As the religious leaders went about ensuring their schedule wasn’t disturbed God kept things moving on His schedule. He wanted Jesus in the tomb before sunset too but for different reasons. He wanted to start the countdown! Jesus had to die on schedule AND be buried on schedule. He just let the religious leaders think they were in charge of things.

When Pilate’s soldiers came to break the legs of the condemned, to appease the religious leaders, they found Jesus already dead. This was unheard of! Crucifixion is a long and arduous death but Jesus’ lasted only six hours. There was no reason to break His legs now. But one of the soldiers wouldn’t be denied his final “stab” at Jesus. He took his spear and drove it into the side of Jesus’ chest. And out of that wound flowed blood and water.

I like how the religious leaders thought they were in charge but God really was. These last two assaults on Jesus’ body were straight from prophecy. Not a bone being broken was written in another of David’s psalms; 34:20. The prophecy of looking on the One whom they pierced is from Zechariah 12:10. That verse is VERY clear in its reference to Jesus. Funny how God managed to bring both these prophecies about through the religious leaders’ impatience. If they hadn’t been pushing to have the whole process completed by sundown these two prophecies would have been missed.

John ends his narrative of Jesus’ death by swearing by everything he has shared. He stood at the foot of the cross during Jesus’ full time there. He hung on His every word. He couldn’t take his eyes off Jesus. He had nothing to give his Lord except his attention and witness. That is EXACTLY what Jesus needed from him that day. He required at least one eye witness. That witness needed to be male to carry any weight. That witness needed to be someone who was respected and credible. John fit all the criteria. Jesus’ factual death was attested to by John, the eye witness. There was no slight of hand or near death experience. Jesus was truly dead. AND His death happened on HIS time schedule.

Father God, thinking over the “coincidence” in how Jesus death “just happened to coincide” with scripture penned over 500 years prior is AMAZING! You knew the exact moment and method that was going to be employed because YOU orchestrated it all. You left nothing to chance.

I have watched in awe as You do this same sort of thing in my life. I think I have every detail of my plan worked out and then You change something up. This messes with my whole timeline and path only to discover the amazingly better ending You put in motion. Sometimes I go kicking and screaming into the “change hut”, but what You have waiting there for me is SO much better. Thank You Lord for messing with my status quo and getting me back on YOUR timetable, not my own. I used to say (when anxious for You to move how I wanted You to) that I wished You would wind Your watch. I knew I could trust You with my needs but I wanted You to move my way right then! I have since learned how waiting on You, no matter how long that takes, is the BEST option. Sometimes I need to step back and watch as You make the dominos fall. Thank You for NEVER leaving me to try and work everything out on my own. Thank You also for letting me help sometimes.

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