In so many respects it must have seemed the perfect time to strike at Jesus. Here they were on the brink of the Passover, with all those pilgrims who would see for themselves the degrading end of the man so many of them had hoped would be the great liberator of the nation. And yet, this being Passover, and the lambs ready to be slaughtered, wasn’t there some niggling thing about Jesus and a Lamb?
It was only three years or so since the days when John the Baptist had been preaching and baptising. The priests and the Pharisees must have received detailed reports of his teachings; some of them had been there to hear his words for themselves. And they might well have known that John had pointed to someone, and had said of him: “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” Did they suspect, or know, that he had been pointing to Jesus?
As Jesus and the thieves hung on their crosses, the leaders sent a request to Pilate for permission to have their legs broken. The reason they gave him, which in itself I don’t think we have any reason to doubt, was their desire to hasten the deaths so that the bodies would not be left hanging there during the solemn feast of Passover.
As most of us know, one of the requirements for the Passover lamb was that not one bone of its body was to be broken. Did the priests and Pharisees therefore have a second intention, an undeclared, and very deliberate one? If they could succeed in having Jesus’s legs broken, this would convince many, or perhaps all of His followers, that He could not possibly be the Lamb of God.
They received their permission. But in the case of Jesus, they were too late. He was dead. And not one bone of Him had been broken.
John 1:29 (above)
Ex 12:46: “You shall not break a bone of it”
Num 9:12: “They shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break a bone of it”
Ps 34:20: “He keeps all his bones; none of them is broken”