I asked a pastor if he knew the story of a whole bunch of people being resurrected days before Jesus rose on Sunday. The pastor, embarrassed, said that no, they had never heard that. So I blew the dust off my Bible and turned to Matthew chapter 27 and read verses 45-53.
The text says that Jesus is on the cross and screams that God has left him. Then someone gives him a sponge full of wine. Then he screams again and “breathes his last.”
When Jesus died, it says the holy curtain in the holy temple was ripped in a holy half, the earth shook, stones split apart, and. . .
“The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep [died] were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.”
I asked the pastor why this dramatic part of the story is forgotten or ignored. By the look on the pastor’s face he agreed with me it was a wild tale. If this story was told every Holy Week, it might make some people start asking questions, such as,
If this part of the story is so strange and unbelievable, almost mythological and magical, why isn’t the Easter story itself unbelievable too?
And think about it: if all these walking dead zombie people really had wandered into town, seen by multitudes, wouldn’t THAT have been the REAL story to pass on from generation to generation? “Moses came to our door selling stone tablets!” “Elijah rode his chariot into our garage!” “Habakkuk sat on our back deck and fed the birds!”
Whole books would have been written about these appearances, signed by all the families who saw these godly ghosts, right?
Well, maybe it’s better to just not read these uncomfortable verses, or talk about them, or preach on them, don’t you think?