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The First Resurrection
June 06, 2005
Hollywood employs stand alone bible text that is taken out of context as part of the story-lines of many of the films they produce. Many of the movies that feature zombies and the walking dead use the phrase "and the graves were opened" taken from Matthew 27:52 as a dire prophecy bringing doom upon the world. Most of us have heard of a resurrection day and many of us will believe it's going to happen.
We all know of one resurrection that has happened. All Christian churches celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday (with maybe a few exceptions). Anyone who has visited a Christian church should be familiar with the story of Christ's death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection. Something else happened during that first resurrection. Something really extraordinary. Something so extraordinary that you would think there would be volumes of books devoted to the subject but there's not. All we have to go on is a few bible verses and that's it.
What else happened on that first resurrection Sunday? Matthew 27:50-56 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
After Jesus came out of the grave, several others followed suit. These were the Old Testament saints. Imagine hearing the doorbell ring in the middle of the day and upon answering it you discovered it was your father who died over ten years ago. Imagine the emotions you would be feeling. There would be fear because you knew that this person was dead. There would be elation because you are now reunited with a loved one thought lost long ago. There would uncertainty as you would wonder why that person was standing at your door. There would be shock as this was the last thing you expected to see at your door.
Yet, the bible says "the graves were opened" and "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep (died) were raised" and "appeared to many" in the "holy city" (Jerusalem). I can picture women fainting in the streets as they recognized a long lost loved one. If there were newspapers at the time, the headlines would read something like "Citizens of Jerusalem Claim the Dead Walk" or "Has Jerusalem Gone Crazy?" or "Stories More Fantastic Than Moses: Fact or Fiction?"
So why is there mostly silence concerning this mindstaggering event? You would think that the story of many people coming out of their graves would be talked about for centuries but it's not. What we get is fairy tales from Hollywood depicting half-rotten corpses walking or running around trying to eat the living.
I think that the main reason that there is only a brief mention of this story in the bible and little or no mention of it all in secular writings is that their resurrection is not as important as the one who resurrected them: Jesus Christ. Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is the single most important event in all of history. Our focus is not to be one the recipients of Christ's resurrecting power but Christ himself.
One day (it could be this year) the graves will be opened again. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. Thess. Chapter 4
Copyright 2005 by Gary Goodworth
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