[Listen to the sound file while you read — two inches to the right of this line on this page, marked “Aubre’s Gift”]
An Evening Devotion for the Silent Saturday of Holy Week
The Savior’s Side is Pierced by a Spear.
Adapted from the accounts of
Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; John 19:31-37
Jesus is Pierced in Fulfillment of Scripture.
[The Passover had been celebrated for over 1,400 years. The fire of its rituals and patterns and associations had been burned into the Jewish soul. Every Jewish family knew that care must be taken to not break the bones of the sacrificial lamb. Passages like the following had been memorized and could be recited by heart.]
IT (the Passover lamb) SHALL BE EATEN IN ONE HOUSE; YOU SHALL NOT TAKE ANY OF THE FLESH OUTSIDE THE HOUSE, AND YOU SHALL NOT BREAK ANY OF ITS BONES.
THEY SHALL LEAVE NONE OF IT UNTIL THE MORNING, NOR BREAK ANY OF ITS BONES; ACCORDING TO ALL THE STATUTE FOR THE PASSOVER THEY SHALL KEEP IT.
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—in order 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.”
The soldiers mutilate the body, and the sovereign God brings to fulfillment the Scripture:
“AND I WILL POUR OUT ON THE HOUSE OF DAVID AND THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM A SPIRIT OF GRACE AND PLEAS FOR MERCY, SO THAT, WHEN THEY LOOK ON ME, ON HIM WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, THEY SHALL MOURN FOR HIM, AS ONE MOURNS FOR AN ONLY CHILD, AND WEEP BITTERLY OVER HIM, AS ONE WEEPS OVER A FIRSTBORN.”
Imagine the heartbreak of the disciples and of the courageous women who, along with the apostle John, did not run and hide. The disciples have not only the loss of Jesus and the brutality of His death, but the dashed hopes of their own dreams and the memories of their own cowardice with which to contend.
The women and John have seen up close the tortured body, the agony of both His body and soul, and the piercing of His side that seems to them the final indignity.
Emotions and memory collide from so many different directions that they feel like petrified wood— cold, lifeless and hard.
They are numb in their exhaustion, aimless in their confusion, broken by their sorrow. Where do they go? What can they do?
What is there left to do but weep?
Zechariah’s words perfectly match the cry of their hearts.
THEY SHALL MOURN FOR HIM,
AS ONE MOURNS FOR AN ONLY CHILD,
AND WEEP BITTERLY OVER HIM,
AS ONE WEEPS OVER A FIRSTBORN.”
“Pierced but triumphant Lord, Your body was pierced through for our transgressions. You were crushed for our iniquities. You bore the iniquity of us all and purchased with Your own blood our redemption. Truly, truly You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help me never to forget the spectacular and lavish display of Your love. Help me fix my gaze upon the beauty of Your holiness and never let me wander from Your commandments. In Your holy name, Amen”