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.
The weekend of Jesus’ death is the weekend that follows the Passover. Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover on Thursday evening. It is now Friday afternoon, and the crowds that celebrated the Passover are still in Jerusalem. The celebration continues and the coming Saturday, the Sabbath, will be considered to be a very special Sabbath day.
Back onto the scene stride the Jewish religious leaders. Remember these guys? These are the same men who in chapter 18 were willing to lie, bribe, cheat, and manipulate in order to have Jesus unjustly put to death while they themselves were unwilling to enter the building where a gentile was staying. They were willing to break God’s law and murder an innocent man, but they did not want to be made ceremonially unclean so as to have to wait a month to eat the Passover.
We do not want to be like the religious leaders we see here. Instead of claiming to love God on the one hand while sinning against God on the other, we want to be people who love God with all our lives. We want to be consistent as we follow our Lord.
Why am I so hard on the religious leaders? The religious leaders go to Pilate and ask him to have the men killed quickly and taken down from the crosses. Why? They are following the command of Deuteronomy 21:23 which says that men who are hanged on trees must not remain over night so as not to defile the land.
Again, catch the irony. The men who just had the Messiah, the Son of God, put to death through political pressure and conniving, are now telling the governor that the men ought not hang on the trees over night, because that would be a dishonor to God in the land. They are hypocrites.
I urge you to examine your life. What kinds of evil do you too easily tolerate? What kinds of evil do you do while keeping your religious duties in check in other places? Don’t be like the Jewish leaders. Love God in every area of life. If you are a follower of God, he has the right to rule you in every area, not just the religious area of Sunday morning. Love God, and avoid religious hypocrisy.