With the Sabbath fast approaching, the Jews requested that the death of Jesus and the two criminals on either side of Him, be hastened. The Romans developed a method for accelerating the death of one being crucified; by breaking the shin bones.
Being pinned to the cross, the only method that would allow the condemned to breathe was to press down on their pierced feet—into the wooden platform beneath, raising their body upwards; relieving pressure on the lungs and allowing breath to be drawn. Once the shin bones were shattered, the crucified could no longer raise themselves to breathe, resulting in a swift death.
In fulfillment of the Scriptures, when the soldiers arrived at Jesus’ body to break His legs, they find that He is already dead.
We should remember that Jesus also came to fulfill the entire type and purpose for the Old Testament Passover Lamb. According to the provisions of the Book of Numbers Chapter 9, “Not one bone of the Passover Lamb could be broken.”
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover…, nor shall you break one of its bones.” —Exodus 12:43, 46
Although the Roman soldiers break the legs of both criminals who were crucified next to Jesus, when they examine Jesus; they find that He has already expired, negating the need to break His legs.
Think for a moment and consider what an amazing event this was. How carefully God had to plan and arranged the events of Jesus’ crucifixion so that He would fully pay for the sins of the world on the cross, but die before the soldiers arrive to break His legs.
Imagine what it would have meant if Jesus had continued to live just a short time longer, and the soldiers had also broken His legs! Jesus would have failed to fulfill the prophecies that describe the Messiah as the Passover Lamb with not one bone broken. A simple failure in just this one prediction would have meant that Jesus could not fulfill all the prophecies of the Messiah, and He could not be our Savior. What great precision and control the Lord has orchestrated to ensure that Jesus would fulfill these many Old Testament prophecies!