This bit of text got me in a bit of trouble with one educated gent. Mostly the part in bold.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook and the 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. Now the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that took place, were extremely frightened, saying, "Truly this man was God's Son!"
(Mat 27:50-54 LEB)
This fellow asked with six options what we thought these people did milling about the city. The last option is the one I chose, really he shouldn't of given it for someone like me, it was: Option 6: Other thoughts? I answered: probably went to the nearest Pub. My mind was thinking I'd be hunger and thirsty – made perfect sense. Apparently it was a wise-crack. So I defended myself explaining he shouldn't of gave option six then because I don't think any of the top five are right. It remained a wise-crack. Even though the author and half a dozen others enjoyed it.
Quick look at two translations and point of interest:
Matthew and Mark (15:39) have the centurion saying “Truly this man was God's son”, Matthew is the only one with “and the earth shook and the 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.” Note the Nets (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)
The section of interest is (NETS): 51b The earth shook and the rocks were split apart. 52 And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised. 53 (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) 54 Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!”
Sorry if that is confusing but the geekness in me wanted to show the difference in wording, punctuation and the parenthesis difference. I like the the KJV and NIV versions too.
We decided we really did want some answers on these verse's but they are difficult verse's. So I enlist your help, no not because I don't have my own thoughts, because I'd like to know yours. I have read through several translations and their commentaries and other materials plus explored the Greek. What I don't know is how do the different Denominations teach these verse's, how do you understand them even what questions you may have, I'll add them to mine has I continue to search.
A few thoughts:
With the sky darkening, the curtain torn and the earthquake and rocks split these are signs that denote God in action. Those that oppose God thought if they kill Jesus they would win against the threat he posed. As Paul says in Hebrews (?) If they had known they wouldn't have killed him. (top of my head translation)
This resembles a battle or some dicisive action (my thought) in the spiritual realm . 1Peter 3:19 may will fall within this time. I can will see quakes and rocks splitting when satan comes to claim the death and God says NO then Jesus declaring YOU LOSE to the chained fallen.
Tag to this a bit of ambiguity of the “tombs opened” did they open at this point (quakes etc.) or after Christ was resurrected by the Father? The tombs could of cracked open during this time though some find it difficult to say.
Only after Jesus resurrection did the holy ones rise and come out of the tombs and enter the City. Maintaining Jesus is the first of the resurrection. But, there are questions about these folk and little to no information to help. Most think the quakes, split rocks and raising from the tombs and entering the City are localized to make the final statement of Truth and resurrection to the people.
What we don't know - was this resurrection of all those holy ones who fell asleep before Jesus death raised also after his resurrection. Making the cross and resurrection the focal point of the promises of old kept and the promises of the new will be kept.
Or, do we take these verses at face value and move along. I still think the Pub was a good answer.
Just a few thoughts of which I am sure someone has others.
This does not answer your question but it is just an observation that popped into my head as I was reading this. For the first time, I thought about how this affected the cover-up story. There was an attempt to on the part of the religious leaders to claim the disciples had stolen Jesus' body so that was why the tomb was empty. The problem was, you suddenly had all these people walking around who had also been resurrected. I have no doubt that at least some of these people were known to have previously been dead for some time, LOL! Perhaps they could try to explain away Jesus' empty tomb by saying his body had been stolen and hidden away or he hadn't really been dead but how did they explain this? Hmm...
The Baptist's herein NZ being akin to the English rather than the USA Baptists taught the 'priesthood of all believers.' Meaning that we were not heavy into non essential doctrine or teaching as laid out by the hierarchy, for we all are able to come to our own understanding and interpretation.
Having said that, the reason I suspect that Matthew included this happening is more due to the fact that his gospel is written solely for the Jewish mind. I suspect, without confirming this point, that in Jewish teaching the coming of the Messiah would be heralded by the resurrection of the dead. I may need correction on that aspect of Jewish understanding. But my point of the audience of Matthews gospel is beyond question.
Good blog as it has caused much thinking on my part.
On the road but was thinking of this post..update.
(The curtain was torn top to bottom)
(The Earth shook and the rocks split)
The curtain torn is become so common in telling seems the enormity of the event escapes us. Thoughts: many think the essence of Yahweh had left the Temple long before this event. True or not this event shows He is not there...the Holy of Holies is bared (opened) for all to see the Glory is absent. The fact it is open is an event itself. Access is no longer restricted.
This event and the earthquake and rocks split are at the point of death or immediately after as if no time passed. Think of the times you've read 'the earth shook and the mountains trempled...' Passages or 'the foundations of the earth shook'. These episodes reflect something major within the spiritual realm often parallel with something in our realm on earth. Here humanity no longer belongs to Satan upon death. There are only two physical signs given on earth of God's victory in the obedience of Jesus even to death. The earthquake and rocks splitting and after His resurrection the faithful rise from their tombs and are seen.
We may not be able to grasp the enormity the death on the cross and the resurrection had in the realm of spirit; the upheaval to how things were to how they are now. All we may understand today is our assurance rest in Jesus by faith. That is enough, though never, should it be the end of our growth in spiritual matters.
NOTE: this is a snippet of my conclusion by far not all of the thought and possibilities of these short sentences. But I am writing this on my phone and I am not good or fast with it so it must do.
Access no longer restricted! The barrier between us and God was torn down! I can't remember off hand how thick this curtain was but it was not like a window curtain. It was extremely thick (and tightly woven) so this was not something easily torn. It was also quite high so to be torn from the top to bottom... yeah. For this curtain to suddenly be torn in two from top to bottom was a supernatural event that could only be done by God.