Who was resurrected at the same time as Jesus?

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The book of Matthew records several very interesting events that occurred right after Jesus' death that are often overlooked by students of the Bible. What these events reveal about how God is working out his salvation plan for mankind is nothing less than profound.

The gospels record that the last thing Jesus did on the cross (at about 3 p.m.) was cry out that he was giving his spirit to God the Father (see Luke 23:46, Matthew 27:50). What immediately followed his death, recorded in three of the gospels (Luke being the exception), was something only the hand of God could have performed.

51. And suddenly the veil of the temple was ripped in two from top to bottom . . . (Matthew 27:50 - 53)

The veil mentioned in the gospels hung on the outside of Jerusalem's temple at the entrance to what is referred to as the 'Holy Place.' The veil was positioned in front of two huge brass doors which opened to the first part of the Holy Place that was directly in front of the 'Holy of Holies.' These massive doors were only opened once a day to allow a priest to burn incense on the incense altar. The only other time entrance to this area was allowed was on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat.

The veil that covered the entrance to the most holy location in the entire temple was not the kind of curtain or thin veil we might think of today. It was at least 30 by 60 foot big (9.1 by 18.2 meters) with a thickness of between 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters)!

The miraculous tearing of the veil showed that Christ's atoning death for the sins of mankind made possible, for the first time, DIRECT access to God the Father. As incredible as this is, there was still MORE that occurred that was truly amazing!

Matthew is the ONLY Gospel that records what happened AFTER the temple's veil was rent in two. First, a massive EARTHQUAKE powerful enough to shake Jerusalem and split rocks struck (Matthew 27:51). Matthew then writes the following.

 
 
 
 
Timeline of
Jesus' last days
 
 
Picture of the
Temple's interior
design
 
 
Did Jesus ever
say he was God?
 
 
What did the
Temple look like?

52. And the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had died arose. 53. And AFTER His resurrection, they came out of the tombs and entered into the holy city, and appeared to many.

The Bible clearly states that the graves of many dead saints were opened after Jesus' death. Then, after he was resurrected, they were not only brought back to a physical life but also showed themselves ALIVE to family, friends and others in Jerusalem! The question is, why did God do this?

Waved before God and Man

Though resurrected near sunset on Saturday, Jesus did not present himself to God the Father until sometime after his appearance to Mary Magdalene early Sunday morning (John 20:17). This corresponds exactly to the ancient ceremony God commanded the Israelites to perform on this very day called the waving of the sheaf or wave sheaf.

9 When you come into the land that the LORD is giving you and you harvest your grain, take the first sheaf to the priest. 11 He shall present it (wave it before) as a special offering to the LORD, so that you may be accepted. The priest shall present it the day after the Sabbath.

Every year the firstfruits of the Spring harvest were to be waved before God as an offering. Jesus, as the "first of the firstfruits" (1Corinthians 15:20, 23) fulfilled the symbolism of the wave sheaf by 'waving' or presenting himself before God in heaven as the first to be spiritually resurrected from the dead. Christ represented those who will be in the FIRST resurrection, which is one to an eternal spiritual life for those who obey God. Those who were physically raised after him and 'waved' before God and those in Jerusalem represent the second resurrection from the dead. This resurrection is back to a physical life in God's great white throne judgment for those who never received a full opportunity at salvation. (Revelation 20:4 - 5).

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