Was there more than one resurrection?
When reading over the events that led up to the crucifixion of Christ and the Crucifixion itself, one may completely ignore what happened while Christ was on the cross. These events certainly would have made anyone take notice for the whole land was filled with darkness even at three in the afternoon. Perhaps they thought, as they mocked and jeered Him that it was simply a storm coming up. However, the land began to shake and they were in the midst of an earthquake. Those who were in the holy Temple saw something else that would have jarred them to the core. The heavy curtain that hung in the Temple, that was the place where the high priest went, tore from the top to the bottom. This curtain separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies in the temple (Heb. 9:2-3) The people surely wondered in the midst of darkness, the earth moving and the screams of the people, how did this happen? (We know, in hind site, that this was great symbolism that God was opening the way to all people to worship Him. The price for sins had been paid by His Son.)
There was more to come to rattle the senses of the people that day… and it was going to be witnessed by many. There was a number of resurrections before the Resurrection of Christ. (Some theologians place the resurrection of believers at the time of the Crucifixion and others after Christ rose again.) Regardless of when it was, the witnesses who saw those who once were dead…then saw them alive.
These people who were resurrected may be overlooked by readers of the Scriptures …but not by those who were there. The earthquake continued; rocks fell, and graves of believers who had died were opened. Many of the people were buried in a rock tomb, perhaps like the one shown below.
Let us read the Holy Scripture together from Mathew 27:
“… From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 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, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection (or during the Crucifixion as the case may be) and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
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!”
Miracles had surrounded the ministry of Christ. The blind were healed; the crippled walked, and the dead were raised. People were witnesses. God, the Father, poured out His miracles when His Son died on the cross…through
darkness…earthquakes…and the tombs of the dead were opening to allow the dead to live again.
Even today, we are told not to look for signs, but to trust that God can do miracles when He so desires. Doctors tell us of miracles of healing that do not have any rationale or understanding. There will always be doubters. Yet, we can look no further than our universe and the stars that stay in their perfect patterns. We can see the birth of a baby with everything that is needed to breathe and grow. Have we ever wondered how a heart can beat every moment without stopping for sometimes over one hundred years? It is all miraculous. We as believers look forward to knowing the true meaning of our own resurrection.
I saw a wacky movie the other evening with the main character saying to himself, “I was born a Jew and I’m not certain if I believe there is a God.”
He began searching and went to a priest to see if he could find God in another faith, but ended up wondering if he had done the right thing. He even talked to a religious group of Hare Krishnas who were dancing and beating their tambourines. Then he decided that he could not stand at the airports and give out literature as this group was doing.
Would he have believed that there was a God if he had seen a real miracle? He was looking to religious organizations to show him the truth and to prove to him something that only God can give…the miracle of personal faith and new birth.
Some of the people at the cross of Christ continued to mock while others fell to their knees, knowing that this truly was the Son of God.
We are approaching the day of Crucifixion which is called “Good Friday” in the Christian world. I’ve often wondered why it could be called “Good” when it was such a terrible, dark day. In Germany, the day is called “Sorrowful Friday” which probably is a better meaning. The only answer to “good” is that of the wonderful message of God’s love for us and our redemption.
The answer then to our question is YES, there were more resurrections…and will be another one to come for all people:
” Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
(John 5:28, 29 English Standard Version)
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