96: Psalms 34:20


365 Prophecies: Prophecy 96

Not one of the Messiah’s bones will be broken.

Old Testament Prediction:

Psalms 34:20 “He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 19:31-33 “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.


The first place where the Bible mentions the Messiah’s bones will not be broken is: Prophecy 24, in describing the Passover Lamb.

The Feast of Passover

According to Exodus 12:3, the Lamb was to be examined on the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, or April 6 by our current calendar. This was the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, 32 A.D. This event was the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes, to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. For further details concerning this important prophecy, see Prophecy 309, Prophecies 304-312, and the chapter: The Seven Feasts of Israel.

According to the Book of Exodus:

  • The Passover Lamb must be a Male (Exodus 12:5).
  • He must be Spotless or Perfect. (Exodus 12:5). Jesus is perfect and without sin: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
  • He must be killed at twilight (Exodus 12:6). This was early evening, the time when Jesus was crucified. “And About the ninth hour (3 p.m.) Jesus cried out with a loud voice ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ ” (Matthew 27:46)
  • The whole assembly of the congregation shall kill it (Exodus 12:6). The Jews, who were gathered before Pilate, declared that Jesus’ blood would be upon them: Let His Blood be upon us and our children (Matthew 27:25).
  • The Blood shall be for a sign (Exodus 12:13). “…the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
  • Not one of His bones shall be broken (Exodus 12:43, 46).

How Jesus and the Passover Lamb are one and the same:

Exodus 12:13: “When I see the Blood, I will Pass Over you.
Romans 3:25: “…by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.

Exodus 12:13: “The plague shall not be on you to destroy you.”
Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Exodus 12:14: “This day shall be to you a memorial.”
Luke 22:19: “…And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ ”

Jesus fulfilled the feast of Passover, by becoming the perfect Passover Lamb, on the precise day the feast was observed, at the right time of the day.

A significant purpose of The Messiah’s was to fulfill the prophetic allusions that Exodus 12 describes. One of the requirements of the Passover feast was that—not one of the bones of the lamb would be broken.

Exodus 12:43,46 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover…, nor shall you break one of its bones.”

Jesus was placed on the cross on the precise day that Passover was observed.

According to Jewish tradition, the body of someone who was crucified could not be left on the cross past the start of the Sabbath, beginning at 6 p.m.[1] Since Jesus was placed on the Cross at the third hour which would be at 9 a.m. on the day before the start of the Sabbath, the Jews wanted to make certain that He did not remain on the Cross by the start of the Sabbath at 6 p.m. Often, those who were crucified would live for days on the cross before they expired.[2] To ensure that Jesus and the two men who were also being crucified were dead before the start of the Sabbath, Roman soldiers were dispatched to break the shin bones of all three men.

The act of breaking the bones in this portion of the lower leg would prevent the crucified from being able to breathe.

As these men were suspended on the cross with their arms outstretched on either side, the lungs were compressed and greatly impeded, making the mechanics of breathing nearly impossible. In order to draw a breath of air, great effort was required to push down with the nail-pierced feet of the crucified, onto the pedestal that he was standing on. The final strike on the body that ultimately caused the death of a crucified man was asphyxiation. After many hours or often days hanging on the cross, a man became too fatigued to stand up on the base of his cross any longer. Not being able to draw a breath, he would expire quickly.[3]

If the bones of the crucified were broken at the middle of the lower leg, it would be impossible to thrust the body upwards and draw a breath. Instead of death by crucifixion taking days, it could occur within minutes. When the Roman guards came to break the legs of the three men who were being crucified on that particular day, they found that Jesus had already expired, and there was no need to break His legs.[4]

We should remember that in most cases, the legs of the condemned on the cross were not broken. In many of the terrible crucifixions that were carried out by the Romans, the condemned were left on the cross until their flesh decayed from off their bones.[5] Only during times of necessity, such as when there was an impending Sabbath, were the legs of the condemned broken. This was only done to promote an expeditious death, allowing their dead bodies to be removed from the cross before the Sabbath began.

The fact that Psalms 34:20 predicted the Messiah would have none of His bones broken (as He fulfills the type of Passover Lamb) implies that the author of this prophecy knew that during the time Jesus was being crucified, Roman soldiers would come to break His legs to hasten His death. Jesus was aware of this prophecy and the fact that at a specific moment the soldiers would arrive. To prevent this prophecy from failing, Jesus dismissed His Spirit and died before the soldiers came to break His legs.

John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He dismissed His spirit. (RCR)

This 96th prophecy is truly an incredible prediction if we would give proper consideration for what has been written.

Someone had seen the events which would transpire at Jesus’ crucifixion before they took place and communicated this information to David, who recorded this prophecy in Psalms 34:20. It is certain that the author who revealed these facts to David was the Son of God, who is called the Logos or the Word of God, known to us in the New Testament as Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus saw this event in advance, spoke these facts to David, came to earth as the Messiah, and ensured that He died before the soldiers came to break His legs; thereby fulfilling His own word.

This is the stunning reality of Old Testament prophecy: God, who has seen all of the events of human history before they take place, communicated the details of the Messiah’s death for the sins of the world to faithful men who recorded these words for us in the scriptures. When Jesus came to Jerusalem as the fulfillment of all these prophecies, again faithful men recorded the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. These New Testament facts are a fulfillment of everything which was predicted concerning the Messiah. These prophecies were written from hundreds to thousands of years before Jesus fulfilled them in the narrative of the New Testament scriptures.

The fulfillment of this 96th prophecy is one of the most remarkable predictions that concern the Messiah.

[1] Deuteronomy 21:22-23
[2] M. Hengel, Crucifixion [London: SCM, 1977]; J. A. Fitzmyer, “Crucifixion in Ancient Palestine, Qumran Literature and the New Testament,” CBQ 40 [1978]: 493- 513.
[3] 1. Lumpkin R: The Physical Suffering of Christ. J Med Assoc Ala 1978;47:8-10, 47.
2. Johnson CD: Medical and cardiological aspects of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ. Bol Assoc Med PR1978;70:97-102.
3. Barb AA: The wound in Christ’s side. J Warbury Courtauld Inst 1971;34:320-321.
4. Bucklin R: The legal and medical aspects of the trial and death of Christ. Sci Law 1970; 10:14-26.
5. Mikulicz-Radecki FV: The chest wound in the crucified Christ. Med News 1966; 14:30-40.
6. Davis CT: The crucifixion of Jesus: The passion of Christ from a medical point of view. Ariz Med 1965;22:183-187.
7. Tenney SM: On death by crucifixion. Am Heart J 1964;68:286-287.
8. Bloomquist ER: A doctor looks at crucifixion. Christian Herald, March 1964, pp 35, 46-48.
9. DePasquale NP, Burch GE: Death by crucifixion. Am Heart J 1963;66:434-435.
10. Barbet P: A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon, Earl of Wicklow (trans). Garden City, NY, Doubleday Image Books, 1953, pp 12-18, 37-147, 159-175, 187-208.
11. Primrose WB: A surgeon looks at the crucifixion. Hibbert J, 1949,pp 382-388.
Bergsma S: Did Jesus die of a broken heart? Calvin Forum 1948; 14:163-167.
12. Whitaker JR: The physical cause of the death of our Lord. Cath Manchester Guard 1937;15:83-91.
13. Clark CCP: What was the physical cause of the death of Jesus Christ? Med Rec 189o;38:543.
14. Cooper HC: The agony of death by crucifixion. NY Med J 1883;38;150-153.
15. Stroud W: Treatise on the Physical Cause of the Death of Christ and Its Relation to the Principles and Practice of Christianity, ed 2. London , Hamilton & Adams, 1871, pp28-156, 489-494.
[4] Ibid.
[5] 1. Retief FP, Cilliers L (December 2003). “The history and pathology of crucifixion”. South African Medical Journal 93 (12): 938–41. PMID 14750495.
2 .Haas, Nicu. “Anthropological observations on the skeletal remains from Giv’at ha-Mivtar”, Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1-2), 1970: 38-59; Tzaferis, Vassilios. “Crucifixion – The Archaeological Evidence”, Biblical Archaeology Review 11 (February, 1985): 44–53; Zias, Joseph. “The Crucified Man from Giv’at Ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal”, Israel Exploration Journal 35 (1), 1985: 22–27; Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion in the ancient world and the folly of the message of the cross (Augsburg Fortress, 1977). ISBN 0-8006-1268-X. See also Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome, by Donald G. Kyle p. 181, note 93

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