These two chapters are very familiar to most believers, and even a lot of non-believers. Most of us have heard and/or read about the last day of Jesus’ life on earth many, many times.
But have you ever really caught what Matthew 27:52 and 53 said? Have you given these two verses any thought? Here they are again: 52The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Ok, so I have to admit that the first images that come to my mind when I read these verses was heavily influenced by our culture’s fascination with zombies and the TV show “Walking Dead”. So sue me. My brain is not 100% spiritual. I admit to being influenced by the media. I am in the world, but I am not of it.
Of course, the risen saints were nothing like zombies. We are told very little about them, but I’m quite sure that they looked exactly like they looked when they were alive the first time. Otherwise, what good would it have done for them to go into the holy city and have them appear to many people?
So let’s take a closer look at what happened here. Just after Jesus died, scripture says that the curtain of the temple was was torn in two, from top to bottom, and there was a great earthquake. Rocks were split, and the tombs were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs *after his resurrection* they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Notice the timing there. *After* Jesus’ resurrection, they went into the city. So in keeping with prophecy, Jesus was the first to be resurrected, and then these saints. Jesus conquered the grave, not only for himself, but for all who put their trust in him.
As I studied this event, I found that there are different opinions about who these people were. Note that these are only opinions, because we aren’t told, but it is interesting to think about. Some think that it was the ancient patriarchs. Others think that they were believers from that time period…those that had seen Jesus but had died before he did. We don’t know.
Also, some think that after these saints went into the city and showed themselves they returned to their tombs. Others, that they were resurrected in the same type of body that Jesus did, to die no more, and when Jesus was taken up to heaven, they went with him.
That we have such a small amount of information tells us that God wants us to focus on the resurrected Christ. That we are given only this short mention tells us that the resurrection they experienced awaits us as well, that it was not only for Jesus. That death is not the end, but only the beginning of a brand new life. There is indeed life after death. Death is nothing to fear if we have put our trust in him!