John 19:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 19:31, NIV: Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders 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.

John 19:31, ESV: 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.

John 19:31, KJV: The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

John 19:31, NASB: Now then, since it was the day of preparation, to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews requested of Pilate that their legs be broken, and the bodies be taken away.

John 19:31, NLT: It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn't want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down.

John 19:31, CSB: Since it was the preparation day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special day). They requested that Pilate have the men's legs broken and that their bodies be taken away.

What does John 19:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

John mentioned once before that Jesus' sham trials and execution happened on a day of preparation (John 19:14). This seems to mean that day on which preparations were made for the "Passover Week." This is another name for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which commemorates Israel's rescue from Egypt. That rescue was heavy with symbolism of Jesus' sacrificial death, including the sacrifice of a perfect lamb (Exodus 12:5), with unbroken bones (Exodus 12:46).

Roman crucifixion practices usually involved leaving the victim's corpse to rot. Though this triple crucifixion (John 19:18) is being performed by Roman executioners, it is happening just outside of Jerusalem. Jewish law condemns leaving a crucified body out overnight (Deuteronomy 21:23). Pilate has no pressing reason to keep these men displayed, and this is a major religious season for Israel. So, he agrees to accelerate the process and ensure all is done before the start of the sabbath.

Crucifixion was designed to maximize pain and extend the process of death. A victim could languish for days before succumbing to exposure, thirst, animals, disease, or shock. In most cases, they simply lost the strength to lift themselves on their own nailed limbs, which was the only way to properly breathe. Slow suffocation was the eventual end of most crucifixion victims. To speed this up, executioners would sometimes break the shin bones of the condemned. Not only would this add to shock and blood loss, it also made it impossible to lift one's self to breathe. Death would come in minutes, rather than hours or days.

The two men alongside Jesus were most likely in normal health before they were crucified, and likely nowhere near death when this request was made (John 19:32). Jesus, however, was viciously scourged by Pilate (John 19:1), drastically accelerating His death on the cross (John 19:33).