Advent Devotionals

Advent Daily Devotional - What Happened on the Cross?

Day 20

Duncan Parlett


Day 20 – Friday, December 22


Key Verses:

“But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.” — John 19:33, New International Version

“. . . he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” — Psalm 34:20, NIV

“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” — 2 Peter 1:19, NIV


Today’s Reading: John 19

Listen to today's reading on her.BIBLE®


The movie “The Passion of the Christ” stunned the world. It shocked some, offended others and deeply moved many. 

Each year, at my church’s men’s retreat, they show the same clip from the film. Jesus is a bloody mess. Lacerations from His whipping cover His body. The hard spikes are punched through His hands and feet. Each blow brings guttural howls of pain. The cross, with our Savior affixed, is hauled upright and, with a thud, dropped in a posthole. His own weight threatens to rip His hands from the nails. 

Crucifixion was the worst way to be executed. Once hung, the victims died slowly. As their strength gave out, they struggled to raise their bodies up just to breathe. After a few days, out of kindness, the executioners broke their legs to hasten death. 

John 19 records Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. In John 19:33, we read the curious detail that Jesus didn’t need his legs broken because He was already dead. What killed him?

The movie could only depict physical suffering. Deep within His soul, the pure Son of God bore the punishment for the sins of the world. On the cross, God’s righteous anger came crashing down on the one person who did not deserve it. The One who had only known a loving connection to His Father was forsaken by Him and plunged into a stunning, despairing anguish. Jesus died paying the penalty for our sin. 

Matthew, Mark and Luke record that three hours of darkness descended on the land. Even the weather echoed the injustice of it all. 

For us, the cross has become an encouraging and familiar symbol, but in Jesus’ time, it was a well-known image of torture. It’s easy for us to forget the darkness of that day. I too forget until the men’s retreat summons another stunning reminder.

The Latin for “cross” is crux. In English, “crux” means something that is “vital, decisive, a pivotal point.” The cross was the pivotal moment in God’s story. It was a dark day but the light was rising, a light that can rise in our hearts too. 



How do the prophetic verses about the coming Messiah in the Old Testament give you confidence in Jesus as your savior? In the middle of darkness and tragedy, God was at work bringing light that shines in our hearts. How does this comfort you in your challenges and brokenness?



Lord, thank You that from the very beginning, You had a plan to redeem us and include us in Your beloved family. You took what is uniquely ours (our sin) and gave us what is uniquely Yours (Your righteousness). May Your unbroken bones remind me that You shine in this dark, broken world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Deeper Dive

Why did Jesus have to die? Explore more answers about the crucifixion.

During his 36 years on staff with Cru, Duncan Parlett has been a campus minister, a designer, and, most recently, a ministry partner development coach. He lives in Southern California with his beautiful wife Kerrie. He loves language, being creative and playing the bass guitar.

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