Jesus died upon the cross about 3 PM on Thursday afternoon of Passion Week.  Looking on from a distance from fear for their own lives were some acquaintances and a number of women who had followed Him from Galilee as minsters to the physical needs of Him and His retinue of disciples.  These would have heard the great cry He let out as He gave up His Spirit and witnessed the supernatural darkness turning to light, while also experiencing the earthquake and splitting of rocks that opened the tombs of many saints who would later appear to many in the holy city.  Among the women were Mary Magdalene and another Mary who is noted as the mother of James the Less and Joseph (abbreviated as Joses, Mat 27:56, Mar 15:40) and likely the wife of Clopas (Joh 19:25).  With them was Salome, the mother of James and John, who was also likely the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary and so Jesus’ aunt.  These three had earlier been with Jesus’ mother Mary near the cross along with John, who perhaps because of his youth was less likely to have been viewed as a threat to the Roman soldiers carrying out His crucifixion; Joh 19:26-27.  As Jesus’ mother had left the scene not wanting to see her Son suffer and die, her sister Salome retired with the other Marys to the greater distance away for both their safety and comfort, not wanting to leave Him, but neither able to bear His sufferings, and fearful from their association with Him of those who had crucified Him.

What do all three synoptic gospels record next as important to the gospel?  See Mat 27:57-60, Mar 15:42-46, Luk 23:50-53.  About what time would it have been “when it was evening”?  How long would Jesus have already been dead by that time?  Who among the three women noted as observing Christ’s death from a distance are also noted as having remained to see what happened to Jesus’ body?  See Mat 27:61, Mar 15:47.  Why would Salome have not remained with them?  Hint: to whom would she have felt obligated to go to comfort and report the outcome?

Writing much later, what significant fulfillment of prophecy does John record that he personally witnessed that happened in the interval of time between when Jesus died and when He was taken down from the cross?  See Joh 19:31-37 and note that not only was John the only disciple Scripture mentions as having been at the crucifixion, but also as tarrying with Him after His death.  As the gospel had gone forth and spread throughout the Roman world by the time John wrote so that most believers at that time were in fact Gentiles, what is significant about his description of the Sabbath in Joh 19:31?  Cf. Exo 12:16, Lev 23:5-7 and think: similar to today, is it likely that the Gentile believers, many of whom would not have been familiar with the Jewish customs, may have confused the Sabbath required on the first day of Unleavened Bread with the seventh day Sabbath?  As Jesus was three days and three nights in the tomb (Mat 12:40), counting back the nights, on what day must He have been crucified?  Why would this have been confusing, as it still is today, to those who only thought of the sabbath in terms of the seventh day or Saturday, which only with difficulty allows for three days, and clearly does not allow for three nights? [1]

The typical Roman practice was to leave those they crucified upon the cross to linger in agony as a warning to others until they eventually expired, which process could take up to several days; in what way would this be problematic with Jewish law?  See Deut 21:22-23, Jos 8:29, and consider what would happen if the criminal expired close to or after sunset, or even the next day, which was the “great” Sabbath marking the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or even the day after that, which was the seventh day Sabbath.  Any of these would have put the Jews in a catch-22, since either attending to the removal of their bodies on the Sabbath or leaving them until the Sabbaths were over would have violated their law.  What does John say the Jewish authorities did to avoid this pickle?  See Joh 19:31.  Why would breaking their legs hasten their death?  Note: death by crucifixion typically comes not from the loss of blood from being nailed to the cross, but from suffocation; the wounds from the nails would bleed, but the nails themselves actually helped to stop the bleeding.  In order to breath, the victim must push up upon the spike nailed through the nerve centers of his feet while pulling up with the arms nailed through the nerve centers of the wrist causing excruciating pain (which word derives from crucifixion).  See here for more information.  By thus breaking his legs the victim could no longer push up with them to draw a breath and would then suffocate to death relatively quickly in great pain from the broken legs while trying to pull himself up with his arms alone with increased pressure upon his pierced hands.  How would they break their legs?  Note that the word in John 19:31 means to break in pieces or shatter, and was done with a heavy mallet or iron club.  This practice to hasten the death of those crucified was referred to in Latin as crurifragium, to fragment the legs.

[1] If Jesus was crucified on Friday, three days in the grave is only obtained by the stretch of counting as a day whatever few moments Jesus would have been in the tomb on Friday, since Jewish days (Saturday in this case) begin at sunset, just before which He was laid in the tomb; Luk 23:54.  As it is though, by Jewish reckoning, since Jesus was laid in the tomb just as the high Sabbath of Unleavened Bread was dawning on Thursday evening, He was in the grave Friday (evening to evening), Saturday (evening to evening), and part of Sunday (evening to morning) since He rose early in the morning on the first day of the week, i.e., three days, and Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night, three nights; Mat 12:40.