Matthew 27:50-53 says, “Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And Behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
The gospel of Matthew is dated between 75 and 80 A.D., and is believed to have been written by Matthew, who was one of Jesus’s disciples. The gospel was written to serve the church as a teaching manual, wherein all the teaching belongs to Jesus Christ.
Our text says, “Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit.” Jesus was on the cross dying, and just before he died he screamed, yelled or as said above, he cried out in such a way that his voice could be heard not only in the physical world, but in the spirit world as well.
Upon crying out, he gave up his spirit and died. His physical body shut down, and was no longer able to embody the whole person. When human beings die, they cease to exist in the physical realm; but they continue to exist in the spiritual realm only. The physical body, unable to embody the whole person in the observable world, becomes a corpse.
When Jesus died the city of Jerusalem became alive with unusual activity. The text says, “the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” The tearing of the veil reflects activity of a supernatural nature; i.e., activity in the spiritual realm.
The activity in the spirit realm was initiated by Jesus, as upon his death the veil in the temple ripped, and opened a way to God. When we profess our faith in Jesus, we enter into his body, which represents the God’s Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God manifest itself in our hearts, and is present during our earthly lives. And so, our entry into the body of Christ is a function of the heart. Someone might ask, “How can we enter Christ with our hearts?” God has revealed that the heart is the seat of our spirit; and in scripture, it is synonymous with the mind.
God, who knows our hearts revealed that sin and enmity directed toward God, turned our heats to stone. He revealed that our hearts are hard and cold.
When we confess Christ and allow him into our hearts, he breaks up, or melts the hard heart; which allows it to respond the presence of God. Just like the veil was torn in the temple, establishing our access and relationship with God; when the Spirit of Jesus Christ penetrates our hard hearts, He establishes our access and relationship with God.
Reflection: When someone’s mother, father or child dies, the human heart experiences grief, and morns the loss. Like the activity that began in the spiritual realm, immediately up Jesus death, there is activity in the spiritual realm when human beings die. As our love ones pass from their bodies, our hearts are touched; our minds are touched and our souls feel the life as it transcends into the spiritual realm.
To be absent from the body, is to join Jesus in the spiritual realm, as our text makes it clear that the body and the spirit are two separate entities. In the death of Jesus we art taught that the Spirit remains active after the physical body dies. This was also evident when Jesus told one of the men crucified next to him, “today you will be with me in paradise.”
It is God’s spirit that gave life to human beings, and it is the spirit that God breathed in us that was given power and authority over the earth. We saw in the death of Jesus, that his spirit exercised power over the physical world, which includes people, structures and corpuses buried in graves. To live in Jesus Christ, is to be a part of the human family that is able to transcend fleshly bodies, and exist as immortal spiritual beings.
Christ Spirit, And Power
And so, Matthew says, “And the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened.”
These events took place in the holy city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called the holy city because the house of God is situated there, and it is indissolubly linked to the theocratic institution of the priesthood.
Luke 2:49 says, “Why were you searching for me? he asked. Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” And so, on one hand Jerusalem was the place where the house of God was established; the holy city, and on the other, Jerusalem was an evil city, the city wherein Jesus was crucified.
Matthew 23:37 says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee, how ofter would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gatherers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not?
And so, their in the city of God, which has a record of killing men anointed by God to be His spokesperson on earth, Jesus is put to death by way of crucifixion.
As his spirit left his body, not only was the veil in the temple torn; in addition, the earth quaked, the rocks were split and graves were opened up. While ripping the veil in the temple, and giving human beings direct access to God, Jesus destroyed the power of death.
As Jesus entered the spirit realm, it is as though he is teaching us that the spirit realm has power and authority over the earth, death and the grave. With his spirit released from his body, Jesus caused an earthquake, rocks to split, and graves to open.
Jesus’ Shows Us Ourselves, Spirits
Then our text says, “and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared too many.”
Three things I would like to draw attention to; the first being Jesus’ death, the second being his spirit, after separating from his body, he demonstrated power and authority over the physical world, i.e., earth, rocks and graves containing corpuses.
The third thing that happened, was after Jesus died, was buried and resurrected; it was then, i.e., after his resurrection, that the spirits of the saints reentered their corpuses lying in the graves, causing them to pass from death back to life.
When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, God teaches us a lesson about His power and authority as it exist in the spiritual realm. In resurrecting Jesus, God resurrected other human being from their graves, which alludes to the story of God’s Spirit entering Adam, causing him to become a living soul; i.e., spirit.
We are not told who the “saints” were, only that they went into the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared too many. These people who were sleep (dead), rose from the grave and bear witness that we are composed of more that flesh and bones.
There was order and intelligence shaping the events that took place as Jesus died. Only after he died did the graves open. The corpuses waited in the grave until Jesus rose, before they rose, which is a sense affirms the consciousness of the human spirit in the spirit realm.
Jesus teaches us that we are spirits, and that in the spirit realm we are in a consciousness relationship with God. Absent from the body and present with Christ; our text affirms that we can play an active role in God’s Kingdom, plan and purpose.
Reflection: When I have conversations (mental, spiritual conversations) with my mother, grandmother, grandfather and others who have transitioned from their bodies, I am comforted, and better able to understand my life and the events that shape my life.
I am able to look at sin, evil, deceit, lies and disappointment as temporary delusions that are not permanent. The trouble, trails and temptations I face daily, are only temporary and constantly remind me of how much I need Jesus Christ. More than once, Jesus interceded in my life sparing me from sickness and death. It was the pure power of God that turned my rock hard, sinful, lying heart into a heart of flesh.
The earthquake that occurred when Jesus died shook my mind, heart, spirit and soul telling me to rise from dead living. The veil that tore, and gave us a direct path to God, ripped my heat open and taught me to follow Jesus, and put me on a path that enables me to participate in God’s will and plan.
Having been allowed to participate in God’s plan for my life; the spirits that passed from this life into the presence of God’s Kingdom are my witnesses; they are always present encouraging humility, and openness to learning from God. My ancestors bear witness that there is a path that leads to Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Father, in the name of Jesus touch the hearts and minds of your people and help us to understand that, You gave Your only begotten Son that whosoever confesses with the mouth and believes in the heart that You have raised Him from the dead shall be saved.
Lord, bless us with the understanding that, You loved us so much, that You gave us Your only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not parish but enter into eternal life. Father, thank you for salvation and for being the Savior of our souls. In Jesus name. Amen