IN Matthew 27:51,52 we are told that "the tombs were opened.
And many bodies of the reposing saints were roused, and, coming out of the tombs after His
rousing, they entered into the holy city and are disclosed to many." This is one of
the supernatural signs that accompanied the death of our Lord, which give us a flashlight
view of its powerful effects. First the curtain of the temple is rent in two from above,
to signify that God has now removed all barriers between Himself and Israel. Then all is
shaken to show that a permanent basis has been provided for His blessings (Heb. 12:27).
The bodies of the saints were roused to indicate the abolition of death; but they remained
in the tombs until His own rousing, for saints in Israel who receive life from His death
are not manifested until He appears. The expression "holy city" is striking, for
Jerusalem had just crucified the Messiah, hence was in acts unholy. It points forward to
the time when all of Israel's saints will be roused to enter the millennial Jerusalem.
Thus the foremost function of this occurrence is to give us a picture of the power of
The literal facts shed little light on the resurrection, and none on the death state.
Just as Jairus' daughter, and the widow of Nain's son and Lazarus of Bethany were roused
from the dead, and restored to mortal life such as they had before, so with these. We do
not know what became of Lazarus or of the others, except that, in due time, they also
died. Not one left the least hint of any experience in the fictitious "intermediate
state," although that should have been their chief subject of conversation if there
were such. None of these was vivified, or made alive, for Christ the Firstfruit alone has
this honor. They will again be roused and also vivified at His future presence, no more to
return to death (1 Cor.15:23).