Summary: A few years ago, I did a series on the resurrections before the resurrection of Jesus. But did you know there were resurrections that took place after Jesus'? Let's take a look at these incidents and see what we can take away from them.
THE RESURRECTIONS AFTER THE RESURRECTION
A few years ago, I did a series on the resurrections before the resurrection of Jesus. I went back into the OT with Elijah and the widow's son and Elisha and the Shunammite woman's son, all the way up to Lazarus. But did you know there were resurrections that took place after Jesus'? Let's take a look at those incidents and see what we can take away from them.
1) The tombs broke open.
Matthew 27:50-53, "And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people."
We see there were some things that happened as soon as Jesus breathed his last. The curtain being torn symbolized the way being made for people to draw close to God. There would be no more separation; all followers of Jesus would have access to the Most Holy Place.
Heb. 10:19-22, "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."
Jesus' death would usher in a way to be reconciled to God and that meant the ability to enter into the presence of God would be for all who were born again instead of just the high priest once a year. Spiritually, through Christ, we have access to the throne of God; we can draw near to God and have conversations with him.
The next thing that happened after Jesus died was an earthquake; the rocks split and it caused some of the tombs to break open. Although it appears like they resurrected when Jesus died, it's likely they came to life after Jesus did and then they made their way into the city.
But regardless, what a remarkable event! Jesus' death and resurrection caused many holy people to come back to life and go into Jerusalem. Can you imagine the shock on people's faces when they saw them? It has been suggested that John the Baptist could have been one of the resurrected. Talk about doing a double take. The one who had been beheaded comes walking into town fully intact. "Hey, Herod, remember me?"
What a statement of divine power. Everyone would be asking how this could be. The testimony of the power over death that Jesus had would be seen not only be his resurrection, but also in these other people coming back to life at the same time. But not just people, holy people.
These were not randomly selected individuals-these would be people who had shown themselves to be followers of Jesus. A distinction was made. Those who were righteous would be raised to life while those who were not would be left dead. It's an indicator of what will happen to us. The righteous will have their graves broken open and come back to life; the dead in Christ will rise (1 Thess. 4:16).
And we see they went into Jerusalem. The place where Jesus was sentenced to death was the place where their presence would signify that Christ was the victor. 'Though you put him to death, he has risen, and the fact that we're standing before you now is a testimony to that'.
Jesus' resurrection was a testimony, the resurrection of the holy ones was a testimony; then there was another testimony. Matt. 27:54, "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!”
This commander realized whose presence he was in. He probably heard the religious leaders hurl their insult when they challenged Jesus to come down off the cross if he was the Son of God. Perhaps before now the Roman Centurion snickered or sneered at such a statement.
But now, he was brought to the point of being not just convinced, but terrified. They may have connected what just happened to God's wrath. Darkness had covered the land for hours; which would've grabbed their attention. Then to see an earthquake happen the moment Jesus died really got their attention-to the point of terrified. "Oh, no, what have we done? We crucified the Son of God!"