Matthew 27:52 - 53
AMP - 52 The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep in death were raised [to life]. 53 And coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
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Without addressing the facts related to the incident recorded by Matthew directly, I would only note that other canonical gospels (whether synoptic or not) contain distinctive elements that are unique to that gospel, and that might evoke the same desire for confirmation elsewhere in the gospels or in secular history as the account in Matthew cited in the question does. (I am thinking specifically (for example) of the Nativity narratives recorded by Matthew (such as with respect to the star observed by the Magi and Herod's slaughter of the innocents) and Luke (the detailed and more personal/private events recounted in Chapters 1 and 2); the raising of Lazarus, which was reported only by John; and the account of Jesus' ascension, mentioned (as far as the gospels are concerned) also only by Luke (although Luke also started the book of Acts with an account of the ascension (Acts 1:1-11), and both Luke and Paul mentioned the ascended and glorified Christ having appeared to Paul -- Luke in Acts 9:3-6 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:8 -- and John recorded a vision of Him in Revelation). That being the case, and in light of the broad agreement of the gospel accounts in general, I would view these incidents not as possible inventions of the writers, but as added evidence of the authenticity of the gospels, since each writer told the story from his own distinctive perspective, rather than being a verbatim copy of each other (which, if that had been the case, would, in my opinion, have only raised justified suspicion as to their credibility); and also as evidence of the functioning of the Holy Spirit, both in inspiring the gospel writers to find/know and record exactly what God wanted to be known; and in guiding those who undertook the prolonged task of determining whether given writings and accounts were to be regarded as canonical, apocryphal, or pseudepigraphal.
My answer is short and simple. Whether or not we choose to accept that the incident took place depends on whether or not we chose to accept the things of God by faith or reject them as religious myths. None of us lived in the days of Jesus' earthly ministry or has seen the Risen Christ in person. We have no idea where His tomb is located except for oral tradition. All we have with us is the record of the word of God in the Bible which we accept as representing His voice to us. We also have a rich history of traditions of the working of God through the church communities in all ages since the New Testament Church. Thankfully, those who have placed their faith in Christ have the conviction by the Holy Spirit that that the gospel narratives are records of God's word which are true, infallible and absolute. With this fact in mind, we choose to accept that the gospel narratives were preserved for us as a witness of what factually took place during Jesus' earthly ministry, including during His death, resurrection and ascension to heaven. We equally hold that the Bible accurately describes the things that will take place in final chapter of human history when Christ shall be unveiled. Those who doubt the opening of graves and the resurrection of saints during the death of Christ at Calvary must also reject or doubt His deity and divinity and His resurrection power, His saving grace and His majestic reign as God and King. They will also doubt His soon coming as Messiah and the judgment of Satan and the wicked. The Bible teaches in 1Corinthians 1:18 that "the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who perish but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God." It is that simple.
There is a corollary passage in the gospel of John. In 5:21 we read "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will." In 5:25 we read "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." In 5:28-29 we read "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment". The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 shows us what happens to all the people who lived and died before Jesus's death. Lazarus was with Abraham in a place called paradise (or Abraham's bosom) the place of the dead Old Testament saints/believers - the blessed dead. The Rich Man is in Hades in great torment. This is the place of temporary judgment for all unbelievers until the second coming of Jesus when they face the white throne judgment of God and are sentenced to eternity in Hell. In Luke 23:40-43 The thief on the cross confessed his sins and asked Jesus to save him and Jesus said "truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." When Jesus died he descended into paradise and declared that he is their long awaited Saviour and sprinkled them with his blood for the forgiveness of their sins. When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the spirits and souls of all these holy and righteous ones, rose up from the grave and some of them appeared in Jerusalem. When Jesus ascended back to heaven all these saints went with him. Death had truly been defeated. Jesus also descended into Hades and proclaimed his judgment against their rejection of God's plan of salvation, announcing that he was coming back again when they would face a resurrection unto judgment and spend eternity being punished in Hell. Once a person has died their destiny is fixed. But the good news is that today is the day of salvation. Just like the thief on the cross, today you can believe in Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.
Firstly, 2Timothy 3:15 states "... all scripture is GOD inspired/GOD breathed..." and the scripture in question is confirmed by that statement if no other. This is of course applicable IF you believe the entire Word of GOD. Secondly, while reading Ezekiel 37, I came to verses 12-13, which say: "Therefore prophesy and say to them, this is what the sovereign Lord says: 'My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.'" Isn't this exactly what happened in Matthew 27:52-53? The scripture in Ezekiel, however, may refer to end times, but it sounds like a reference to Matthew 27:52-53 to me.
The free flow of information we have today didn't exist in ancient times. This miracle, like others in the New Testament, may never be confirmed by independent sources since it was an affront to both the Jewish and Roman authorities at that time. The authorities in Judea would likely have suppressed any and all written accounts of the miracle to retain as much control over the population as needed, thus ensuring their continued positions in Jewish society and within the Roman Empire. However, the miracle can be confirmed by the Holy Spirit for those who pray diligently and have a true need to know.
The graves were opened. Death to the saints is but the sleep of the body, and the grave the bed it sleeps in; they awoke by the power of the Lord Jesus, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into Jerusalem, the holy city, and appeared unto many. Who these saints were, that did arise. Some think, the ancient patriarchs, that were in such care to be buried in the land of Canaan, perhaps in the believing foresight of the advantage of this early resurrection. Christ had lately proved the doctrine of the resurrection from the instance of the patriarchs; (I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Matthew 22:32), and here was a speedy confirmation of his argument. Also, these that arose were modern saints, such as had been Christ in the flesh, but died before him; as his father Joseph, Zecharias, Simeon, John Baptist, and others, that had been known to the disciples, while they lived, and therefore were the fitter to be witnesses to them in an apparition after. What if we should suppose that they were the martyrs, who in the Old Testament times had sealed the truths of God with their blood, that were thus dignified and distinguished? Christ particularly points at them as his forerunners, (That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Matthew 23:35) And we find, that those who were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, arose before the rest of the dead. Sufferers with Christ shall first reign with him. (And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Revelation 20:4-5) It is agreeable, both to Christ's honour and theirs, to suppose, though we cannot prove, that they arose as Christ did, to die no more, and therefore ascended with him to glory. Surely on them who did partake of his first resurrection, a second death had no power. That Jesus Christ, by dying, conquered, disarmed, and disabled, death. These saints that arose, were the present trophies of the victory of Christ's cross over the powers of death, which he thus made a show of openly. Having by death destroyed him that had the power of death, he thus led captivity captive, and gloried in these re-taken prizes, in them fulfilling that scripture, I will ransom them from the power of the grave. That, in virtue of Christ's resurrection, the bodies of all the saints shall, in the fulness of time, rise again. This was an earnest of the general resurrection at the last day, when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And perhaps Jerusalem is therefore called here the holy city, because the saints, at the general resurrection, shall enter into the new Jerusalem; which will be indeed what the other was in name and type only, the holy city, (And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2) That all the saints do, by the influence of Christ's death, and in conformity to it, rise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. They are raised up with him to a divine and spiritual life; they go into the holy city, become citizens of it, have their conversation in it, and appear to many, as persons not of this world.
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