Matthew 27: 50-53. “Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
Matthew tells us that Jesus cried out with a loud voice. He did not weakly whisper; He shouted! It was a shout of victory; the battle was won. John 19:30 says, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”
Strong to the very end, that was my Jesus! His life was not taken from Him; He gave it up when all the work was done, all the prophecies had been fulfilled. No one could have taken His life from Him against His will.
Some amazing things happened when Jesus gave up His life. First, the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn in two pieces, from the top to the bottom.
Second, there was an earthquake in which the rocks themselves were split.
Third, tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints arose. After His resurrection, they went into the city and were seen by many people.
The veil. It was not rent by the earthquake, but by the hand of God. It was done from above. It must have happened just about the time when the priests entered the holy part at the evening sacrifice. What a thing to see! As the earth rocked and shook, the veil, which is thought to have been about the thickness of a human palm, was torn in two pieces from the top down! The most holy place was opened now, showing that the sacrifice of Jesus had eliminated the need for any more blood to be shed to cover sin. Acts 6:7 tells us that many priests became converts to the New Way. It is no wonder!
The earthquake.Only in Matthew is this event recorded, because the death of the King shook the very earth itself and split the rocks. Only in Matthew is Jesus presented as the King, Messiah, Creator and Ruler of all the earth.
The tombs. The open graves declared the most wonderful news ever: His death had broken the power of death forever. Through His death He destroyed Satan, he who had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). It wasn’t until after His resurrection that the bodies of the saints left the tombs and entered the city, to be seen by many. He had to rise from His own grave, defeating sin and death, before those who had already died could leave their graves and be seen in the city.
Everything was done in its proper time. Every single event, from the Last Supper to Jesus surrendering His spirit of His own volition, was done according to scripture, including the resurrection of Jesus and then of those saints who left their graves, showing the power of His death and resurrection.
What happened to them? We don’t know. We’ll know someday. What we do know is that their appearance must have amazed all those who saw them, and convinced the people that Jesus had indeed risen from the tomb. It was an amazing proof of the efficacy of His death and resurrection. That is all we need to know.