Last night I asked my son Brent – who is the original Bibliologist in our family (with three degrees in ministry, Christian education, and theology) turned software developer – “What is the weirdest story in the Bible?”
He immediately answered “the zombies in Matt 27.” He is right . . . this is a strange one.
Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Mat 27:50-53)
At the moment of Jesus’ death, there was an earthquake and a bunch of holy people were raised from the dead. The word translated raised means to “bring into being.” Yet, they stayed in their tombs for a few more days until Jesus was resurrected.
Weird enough! But why would they stay in their tombs – which had been opened in the earthquake? Was it because they had nothing to wear except decomposing burial clothes? If I find myself coming to life in a casket . . . I am out of there, naked or not.
But then, when Jesus is resurrected, they walk on into Jerusalem. Did they walk in a group? Did they dance like the Thriller zombies? Did they go home? If they had been dead a few generations, how would they even know who their living relatives were? Imagine your long ago buried great-great-grandma showing up at your door.
What happens to them? Do they live for some amount of time and then die again? Are they reburied in their old tombs? Still the questions gets weirder . . . Is it possible that they are still living among us? Now that is the way I want the story to end . . . I want them to still be here living and working among us. Look around . . . what about the guy one cube over?
Well, they are never mentioned again in scripture nor are they mentioned in the other three gospels. If all scripture is given for edification, what do you take away from this story?