I was reading this verse:  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.  (Matthew 27: 52-53)   I believe this statement to be true in that the dead arose including possibly people from the Old Testament.  Do we know where the went? Did they die again? I would assume it would be such a large event that confirmed everything in the gospels, that many articles would have been written about it and passed down for generations particularly in a culture that placed special importance on paternal lineage and godly ancients of old.  For example, if I were a 1st century Jew and saw heroes such as Isaiah or King Ddavid ( or even my godly father) being raised from the dead and talking about Christ, I would cause such an uproar that I would have to ask the famous jewish recorders, government officials, or historians to record it before I die.  If I were affirmed that many of my neighbors also saw this, then surely this event would not go unnoticed or untraced.  So if this happened, was this event recorded anywhere else outside of the bible? If not, why do you think it wasn’t?  It seems odd to me that Jerusalem would still not accept Christ’s divinity presently as well (as well as historically) if there were many witnesses and as a consequence, articles , attesting to this event.


I, too, have occasionally wondered that this event is noted in Matthew 27, yet the claim and facts related to it are not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament, by the early church fathers or by Jewish witnesses.

I am afraid that this will probably have to remain somewhat of a mystery. I do not like unanswered questions, but this is one of them. My thought is that these people appeared only for a very short time–perhaps for just a couple of hours immediately after the death of Jesus. Because it happened at the same time as an earthquake and the general darkness, which was observed by ALL in Jeruslaem, the other two manifestations were more generally noted by those in Jerusalem. We know that the darkness was known outside of Jersualem, even by non-believers. This is because a Greek historian named Thallus tried to provide a “natural” explanation of the darkness in about AD 50. He proposed that perhaps a solar eclipse was the cause of the darkness, which is not possible because we know the timing of all solar eclipses back for thousands of years.

So, my speculation is that the appearances were very short-lived and that they were less noted over time because not all saw the appearances. This speculation, so should be taken with a grain if salt.

As to why many Jews did not believe in Jesus, that is a good question. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man asks to go speak to his family. He is told that they have the Law of Moses, which should be enough. Even if someone were to appear from the dead, it would have no effect. Most people who reject Jesus Christ do so, not because the evidence for the resurrection or for the inspiration of the Bible is lacking, but because of the hardness of their hearts due to sins such as pride, selfishness, lust and greed. There is probably no “logical” explanation of why the appearances of temporarily resurrected Jews in Jerusalem at the time of the death of Jesus had little effect in the long term. I do believe that the evidence of the empty tomb and of the miraculous ministry of Jesus were stronger than the appearances at the death of Jesus. This is why it is the resurrection and the other miracles of Jesus which were preached by the early church, not the darkness, earthquake and resurrection appearances at the time of the death of Jesus.  We should note that many thousands of the Jews, including those living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ ministry were indeed baptized into Christ.  This somewhat reduces the need to “explain” why a still larger contingent did not believe in Jesus.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.