At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
One section of scripture that is hardly discussed in sermons or Sunday school is Matthew 27:51-53. We are used to hearing a reference to the vail/curtain in the temple tearing but usually the scripture teaching ends there. Let us also recall that Jesus’ death did not just mark the resurrection era but that people were immediately resurrected after Jesus’ death.
…and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27:52-53)
How strange but wonderful it must have been for the ressurected bodies or manifestations of dead to appear in the Holy City. Can you imagine your grandfather or grandmother suddenly appearing to you, declaring the good news from the grave? This is why Jesus is described as the first to be resurrected, not the only to be resurrected (1 Cor 15:23).
You can be sure that all the rest of the faithful to the Lord have also experienced such resurrection. And one day when our time has come we also will be raised to new life with the Lord.