31Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should 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 19:31-37)
Prophecies about the Messiah continued to be fulfilled after Jesus died on the Cross, and one of these happened because of the Sabbath. No work could be done on the Sabbath, which meant Jesus had to die and be buried before it began. That is why the Jews asked Pilate to break His legs. Breaking the legs of those being crucified hastened death. Verse thirty-three says that Jesus was already dead, so the Scripture was fulfilled: “He guards all His bones: not one of them is broken.” (Ps. 34:20)—all because of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was first mentioned in Scripture in Exodus 16, then shortly after, the Lord commanded the observance of the Sabbath day in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8-11). God connected the Sabbath with the rest He took on the seventh day of creation. According to Exodus 23:12, one of the purposes of the Sabbath was to give God’s people and their animals one day of physical rest each week. Today’s medical science has proven that our bodies need at least one day of rest each week to function at our peak.
In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul revealed that the Sabbath was only a shadow of things to come and had been fulfilled in Christ. Hebrews 4:1-11 talks about a Sabbath rest that is available to all New Testament believers, but is not necessarily functional in all of them. This New Testament Sabbath rest is simply our relationship with God in which we cease from doing things by our own efforts and allow God to work through us.
As you ponder the importance of the Sabbath in Jesus’ death, think about the fact that He died to give you rest. If you are in turmoil or confused in any way today, cast your care upon Him and be restored to His continual Sabbath rest.