Prophecy Of The Messiah: “Not One of His Bones Shall Be Broken”

Amongst the incredible prophecies of the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled, there are a few which defy logic. How could a person engineer the events of their own death so that they could fulfill prophecies that were written nearly one thousand years before? During the crucifixion of Jesus the normal procedure that requires the breaking of the lower legs to hasten death before the beginning of Passover, was not done to Jesus.

When we explore the text which describes this event, we are awestruck by the fact that Moses and David both predicted that “not one bone” of the Messiah would be broken.

The first two of these prophecies were written in context with the Passover Lamb. We learn later in John’s Gospel that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” What Moses penned for the Passover Lamb was intended for Jesus who comes into the world as the Lamb of God, who dies on Passover for the sins of the world.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! ~John 1:29

In the two prophecies of Moses describing the Passover Lamb, he is specific that none of Messiah’s bones can be broken. If Jesus had experienced the breaking of His bones while being crucified, He would not be the True Messiah because this would constitute a clear violation of the Old Testament prophecies which predicted that Messiah will have no bone broken.

The Old Testament prophecy of the Passover Lamb that Jesus perfectly fulfilled:

They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones. According to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.” ~Numbers 9:12

The New Testament Narrative Of This Event:

Nail through foot

Therefore, 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. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.” ~John 19:31-33

Happenstance Or A Supernatural Event?

There are three prophecies in the Old Testament that specifically state that the Messiah will have none of His bones broken:

Prophecy 24: Exodus 12:43,46
Prophecy 36: Numbers 9:12
Prophecy 96: Psalms 34:20

During the course of crucifixion, on rare occasions, it was necessary to break the shin bones of the condemned person hanging on the cross in order to hasten his death. In order to breathe and continue living, it was necessary to push down with the feet onto the wooden platform that was secured to the cross. By attempting to stand and relieve the pressure exerted on the lungs due to the outstretched arms that were nailed to the upper cross member, the nail that was driven through the flesh and bones of both feet, would cause the tissue to be torn and bleed profusely. The pain that was necessary to complete the simple process of breathing became a continuing self torture. The condemned would have to choose between the intense pain of raising himself up to breath, or dying from a lack of oxygen.

When a crucifixion took place on the day before the Sabbath or a special feast day, Jewish law required that the body of the condemned must not be left hanging on cross (tree) overnight.

If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day…” ~Deuteronomy 21:22-23

When the Roman soldiers came to break the legs of Jesus in order to hasten His death, they found that He was already dead. These men unknowingly became instruments in fulfilling the three prophecies of the Old Testament which specifically state that the bones of the Passover Lamb could not be broken.

It it clear that this specific aspect of the Messiah’s death is of particular importance to the Lord, being repeated three times. Upon examination of the circumstances surrounding this event, we can see why.

The purpose of these many Old Testament predictions is to validate the identity of the one who is the true Messiah. The source who revealed to us that that the legs of the Messiah would not be broken would have to know in advance that there would be two other men who were also being crucified on the same day. He would need to know that the crucifixion of the Messiah was going to happen on Passover, the day before the Sabbath. As a result of the specific day in which this would take place, the bodies of these men could not remain on their crosses past 6 p.m., on the day of their execution. The only way to make certain that they could be removed before the beginning of the Sabbath at 6 p.m., was to accelerate their death by breaking the lower portion of their legs at the shin bone, so that lifting themselves to breath would be impossible.

The fact that both criminals would have their legs broken, while those of the Messiah would be left intact, is a remarkable piece of information, considering that in about 90 percent of all crucifixions, the executioners did not break the legs of those on the cross.[1] The author of this prophecy knew in advance that this crucifixion would occur just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath which would require the legs of the crucified to be broken, yet leave the bones of the Messiah unbroken. These specific facts were in direct fulfillment of Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, and Psalms 34:20.

Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”[2]

This specific detail allows us to understand that the fulfillment of this prophecy was extremely difficult. The fact that every event did occur exactly as Moses and David wrote, calls for our consideration that when Jesus fulfilled their words precisely, it leaves us with no other conclusion other than the fact that He is the one that these prophecies were written for.

Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12 were written 1,500 years before Jesus was born. Psalm 34:20 was written 1,000 years before Jesus was born.

In order for any person to be the true Messiah, He would have to fulfill the requirements of the Passover Lamb. When God told Moses what the specific details for the sacrifice were, He had in mind the time when His Son would come to earth 1,500 years later and be our Passover Lamb. God included the details of this procedure in His instructions to Moses in both Exodus and Numbers, in anticipation of the time when Jesus would arrive. The fact that the legs of the Messiah would not be broken, while those of the two men would, is an extraordinary revelation. To fulfill this requirement Jesus knew that He would have to die before the Roman soldiers came to break the legs of the two other men. In order to accomplish this, Jesus would need to have power over life and death, so that He could command His spirit to depart His body, before the soldiers came to break His legs.

Jesus Must Have Known The Events In Advance

How is it possible to write in describing these explicit details unless the author had actually seen the events take place before they happened? This is truly an incredible prediction when we consider the extreme difficulty in causing the many specific details required to bring about this prophetic fulfillment.

Jesus was not a helpless condemned man dying on a cross with no control over anything that happened to Him. He not only told Moses to write the prediction 1,500 years before these events took place, He controlled the specific way in which He died to insure the precise outcome. Jesus exhibits stunning control over all these circumstances so that His bones would not be broken in fulfillment of these three prophecies.

Let us imagine for just a moment that the timing of any one of the events concerning the crucifixion had been altered in the slightest. Let us say that the beating that Jesus received by scourging was just slightly more severe. The pressure from the strikes against His body just a little harder. What if the soldier beating Jesus with the scourge had hit a vital organ with the metal pieces of the scourge, causing it’s failure? Jesus may have died before He even made it to the cross. What if Jesus did not have the ability to control the precise moment that His Spirit departed His body? He would still have been alive when the soldiers came to break the legs of the other men, and His legs would have also been broken. This simple change in the entire process would have invalidated Jesus claim to be the Messiah— for the prophecies specifically state that the legs of the Messiah cannot be broken.

One of the stunning calling cards that undeniably identifies Jesus as the promised Savior, is the fact that the Roman soldiers did not break His legs to hasten His death. Jesus was in complete control of the precise moment that He died. He said in advance that He had the power to lay His life down when He wanted to, and He had the power to take it back again in resurrection three days later.

No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down when I chose. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it back again. This command I have received from My Father.”[3]

In this 36th Old Testament Prophecy, Moses commanded that the Passover Lamb could not have any of his bones broken while in the course of his preparation and death. It was Jesus’ intent to fulfill the purpose of the Old Testament Passover Lamb by being The Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, with no bone broken.

See 400 of the Messianic Prophecies in the Messianic Prophecy Bible

[1] Koskenniemi, Erkki; Kirsi Nisula and Jorma Toppari (2005). “Wine Mixed with Myrrh (Mark 15.23) and Crurifragium (John 19.31-32): Two Details of the Passion Narratives”. Journal for the Study of the New Testament (SAGE Publications) 27 (4): 379–391. doi:10.1177/0142064X05055745. Retrieved 2008-06-13.
[2] John 19:33-34
[3] John 10:17-18, Author’s translation.

Categories: Jesus is the Messiah, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, The Crucifixion of Jesus, The Prophecies of the Messiah, The Suffering of Jesus

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9 replies

  1. So why do so many preachers when offering communion say “This represents Jesus body broken for you…”


    • The word, “broken,” from the Koine-Greek, κλάω klaō, is a word only used in the breaking of bread. Here Paul, as a preeminent Hebrew and Koine-Greek scholar, rightly applies κλάω (broken) to Jesus’ Body.

      Paul does this because of what Jesus said about Himself: “I Am the bread of life.”

      John 6:32-36 “Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.”

      Jesus is saying that when God gave the Israelites the Manna in the desert, this bread from heaven, was a representation of what Jesus would do for us later. Jesus became the True Bread from heaven, when He came to die for our sins and redeem all those who believe, back to God.

      Paul further illustrated Jesus as the Bread that came from heaven, in 1 Corinthians 10:

      1 Corinthians 10:16-17 “When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body.

      Paul applies the breaking of bread, as an act of fellowship or sharing together, by all those who know and love Jesus.

      At the beginning the Lord commanded the priests to bake 12 loaves of bread, representing each one of the 12 tribes. This bread represented a gift of fellowship from those who believe, to the Lord, as each person in the 12 tribes of Israel shared in His goodness, love, and provision.

      Leviticus 24:5-8 “You must bake twelve flat loaves of bread from choice flour, using four quarts of flour for each loaf. Place the bread before the LORD on the pure gold table, and arrange the loaves in two stacks, with six loaves in each stack. Put some pure frankincense near each stack to serve as a representative offering, a special gift presented to the LORD. Every Sabbath day this bread must be laid out before the LORD as a gift from the Israelites; it is an ongoing expression of the eternal covenant.”

      In the New Testament the breaking of bread together was a sign of common fellowship (koinonia), much like the original 12 tribes who gave an offering of bread to the Lord as an act of their love for Him.

      The breaking of bread then, is a symbol of Jesus, the True Bread of Life from heaven, who gave His body and blood to pay for our sins on the Cross. The giving of Jesus body was intended as an illustration of the Bread of Life God gives to all of us as we decide to turn from our sins and trust in Jesus.

      The bread of Jesus body given for us is a sign of our fellowship together with Him, and with each other.

      When we partake of Communion together we break the bread as a symbol of sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in our fellowship together. We do this to honor Jesus’ great sacrifice for us, and as a sharing our ourselves with Him as we eat the bread believing that He made it possible for us to obtain heaven.

      The breaking of bread and this term being applied to Jesus, it is not speaking of His literal body being broken, but as Jesus is the True Bread of Life from heaven, we are sharing in His death and resurrection.

      We break the bread into pieces and each one of us eats a part of the original bread, which is meant to represent Jesus and what He did for us. Just as when we eat a meal together and the things we eat in common, go into our bodies and become a part of us, the bread we eat, representing Jesus sacrifice for us, goes into all of us together and we all become a part of what Jesus has accomplished.

      A really beautiful and incredible experience!


  2. In addition to scripture the documents of the early church fathers are now open for examination and study. They have been enjoyed by scholars of diverse religious orientations. Truth is truth and when looking for it everything lines up. These documents form part of the capital ‘T’ tradition that along with the bible [a ‘Catholic’ book] aligns the base of all Christian truth.


    • The Catholic church was established in the late 500’s AD. The books of which the Bible is comprised of, were written over the course of over 1500 years by 40 different Semitic authors. The canonization of the books was in progress long before the catholic church canonized any of the biblical books (For example, the Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible was canonized in 4th century AD).


  3. The broken bone date’s back to the baker and his separation of his head that was placed on the pole.This is an actual sign language! The meaning is separation from God from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.The language is about a broken relationship with God,skull mountain is a magnifying event showing Jesus atlas/axis is unseparated.Atlas/ axis is also showing the future ballistic missile,the pole and warhead.It is a seen written language written into the hearts and minds of man.This language occurred before any seen hand written word by man and his alphabetical seen word from the unseen spoken word.


    • Ron,

      Thanks for posting your observations. I am not sure where you obtained this information from; the idea that the broken bone originated in the baker of Daniel. The true origin is from the Passover Lamb, which Jesus purposely fulfilled.

      Many years ago when I first began my biblical scholarship, I was taught that with every strong house there are four walls. In every point a student of God’s word is seeking to make, there must be at least four supporting scriptures that clearly give evidence of the point put forth.

      I did not see this in your comment.

      I think that merely using the baker as attributing this to a future ballistic missile, is a dangerous departure from a true exegesis of scripture. Perhaps you can provide the source of your comment so that I can better understand the conclusions you have made?

      It is very dangerous to over spiritualize scripture in a manner that the texts of the Bible do not support. I await further clarification…



  4. Hello, yes, I agree, your detail on this topic is very helpful. Prophecy has always blown me away, and I heard about this particular prophecy earlier this week on the radio… then googled the topic and came across your article. I am going to share with family and others. Happy Easter!


  5. Great article, thanks for writing!


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