Summary: A sermon on the miracle of the holy ones raised to life when Jesus died on the cross from Matthew 27:52-53
Sermon for 3/14/2010
A. Excuse me Matthew; can you give us more information? Matthew’s brief description here with this last miracle (vs. 52-53) reminds me of a situation from my own life. Crystal and I had gotten engaged without anyone knowing about it. Of course, Crystal soon told everyone she knew. Crystal was playing piano at a church on the other side of town and didn’t really know many at the church where I was preaching. How was I going to tell the church? I came up with a plan. I did not given an annoucement. Nothing was out of the ordinary. I prayed a sermon and just inserted on little phrase “My fiancé and I were watching this movie” to see if anyone noticed. After the service I was shaking everyone out and after half the people had left, one little elderly woman said, "Did I hear this right, Your fiance? Are you engaged to be married?" Those who lingered longer wanted the full story. Those who take off like a shot after the service probably still don't know I got married (and they also weren't paying attention). If you are not paying attention here you will miss the wonder of this miracle.
B. Others say that this is outlandish and cannot be true. However, it flows naturally from the account. Matthew is the only one to record this but that doesn’t mean it is not true. Maybe one of the copiers put this on several years later just to see if anyone was paying attention. Earliest manuscripts of Matthew contain these two verses. No footnotes here.
A. Have many questions:
1. Who? Many holy people. Who were they? Any famous ones or just ordinary? How many were there? How far back in time, just a year or several years?
2. When? We know that the tombs of these holy people were opened from the earthquake but did they rise at the moment of Jesus’ death or at Jesus’ resurrection.
3. How long did they stay alive? Did they just stay alive for a few hours? Did they just go back to their old lives? If they only stayed alive for a few hours or a few days, did they have another funeral? Did they go back to their tomb and lie down and die again? Did the Lord take them up without another death?
4. What did the bodies look like? Were they fully restored, or decayed? What sort of resurrections were these? How did their return from the dead affect them?
5. What did they say to their relatives and friends? Did they speak of Christ or did they know about the spiritual significance of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? What was the reaction of those who saw them? Disbelief? Panic? Happiness? How many people saw them?
7. Some Biblical facts but a lot of things to speculate about.
B. We will try to answer a few of these questions this morning.
C. Two parts to this miracle.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the two parts of this miracle and try to answer some of these questions.
1. The tombs broke open (Vs. 52)
B. Misunderstanding here. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary argues that a full stop (period) should be placed, not after “split” (vs. 51), but after “broke open” (vs. 52). Remember, we talked about the curtain tearing, the earthquake and now the tombs breaking open. This happened at the moment of Jesus’ death. The resurrections did not take place until Jesus’ resurrection. The Commentary goes on to say, “Matthew does not intend his readers to think that these “holy people” were resurrected when Jesus died and then waited in their tombs until Easter Sunday (played cards to pass the time) before showing themselves.”