A Holy Day of Rest: John 19:28-37

Focus Passage: John 19:28-37 (GW)

28 After this, when Jesus knew that everything had now been finished, he said, “I’m thirsty.” He said this so that Scripture could finally be concluded.

29 A jar filled with vinegar was there. So the soldiers put a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick and held it to his mouth.

30 After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!”

Then he bowed his head and died.

31 Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of rest—a holy day, the Jews didn’t want the bodies to stay on the crosses. So they asked Pilate to have the men’s legs broken and their bodies removed. 32 The soldiers broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus.

33 When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. 34 However, one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus’ side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out. 35 The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.

36 This happened so that the Scripture would come true: “None of his bones will be broken.” 37 Another Scripture passage says, “They will look at the person whom they have stabbed.”

Read John 19:28-37 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Something that I find fascinating when I compare different translations of the Bible is how certain translations use different phrases to describe certain things. A perfect example of this is in our passage for this journal entry, where we are looking at Jesus’ death using the God’s Word to the Nations Bible translation.

What I find very interesting about what these translators chose to do is to substitute a phrase for the word “Sabbath”. In our modern Christian culture, the Sabbath has lost a lot of its significance and relevance. The majority of Christians living today believe it was something that is either for the Jewish nation exclusively and/or it was done away with at the cross.

Part of me wonders if the translators of this translation chose to avoid using the word Sabbath because they wanted to minimize the importance of this specific day of the week. Another equally valid idea is that these translators wanted to develop a translation that did not emphasize this term as there is confusion over exactly what day of the week it is.

However, the idea that rises to the top in my mind is that these translators chose a phrase that emphasizes the significance of the Sabbath, without having their readers jump to their preconceived ideas regarding this day from simply seeing its name. While most other translations will simply use the term “Sabbath”, this translation seems to have taken every reference to the word “Sabbath” and replace it with “day of rest—a holy day”.

In many cases, this makes the structure of the sentence more awkward to say or read, but it also draws our eye to it even more closely.

Determining what day the Bible refers to as “The Sabbath” is very easy to do. This translation even tells us directly. If these translators wanted to confuse what day of the week the Sabbath was, they did a very poor job here. In verse 31, we read, “Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of rest—a holy day, the Jews didn’t want the bodies to stay on the crosses.” This translation draws our attention to this significant Sabbath as being the day after Friday – or Saturday by most of today’s modern calendars. This was the seventh-day of the Jewish week – and in most traditional calendars available today, Saturday is the last day of each week.

The main idea I want to focus us on with this realization is that it is important for us to use multiple translations when studying the Bible. While many of us have favorite translations, other translations can help us draw out new insights or truths about a concept, event, or idea that we had not seen before.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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