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. (Mat 27:52-53)
There were many graves around the city of Jerusalem. As with all cities, most of the people who die are buried close to the city or within the city. It would be hard to find otherwise situations. Until recently, people had to walk to burials of family and friends. Also, people were buried close enough for the family to visit the grave site during the year.
Jesus preached publicly: “….I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (Joh 11:25) When he spoke these words, His close friend, Lazarus was dead and buried. While Lazarus was sick, Jesus waited with His disciples a distance away and avoided going to see him while he was dying. He could have raised him from his sick bed, but that was not Jesus’ purpose with Lazarus. He was going to display one of his major themes of who He (Jesus) was at the tomb of Lazarus. He is the resurrection and the life.
What sane person, then and now, would not like to know they are going to be resurrected from the dead? Jesus wanted to get that across to a gathering of people so that it would be a permanent part of His public record. These words have been read at gravesides millions and millions of time. Yes, millions of time. Jesus gave His preachers something solid to preach at funerals when He spoke these words at the tomb of Lazarus. He was going to raise Lazarus for his sister, Mary, and Martha to take back home with them and for a crowd of people to talk about the rest of their lives and spread the story far and near. We are still hearing about it and we are looking at it today.
When Jesus paused before the entrance of Lazarus’ tomb, He prayed and He wept. It has been speculated as to why Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Perhaps He knew He was calling Lazarus back from his heavenly home of peace and plenty, back into a world of turmoil and suffering. I have no single verse to prove it, but we have many verses that paint the difference between our home in this world and our home in Heaven. We have heard the testimony of people who have gone to the other side and the conversation that took place there before they came back into their bodies here.
I knew Rex Crawford and Mrs. Mac in Bristol, TN who had both had similar experiences. Before I knew of their departure and their return to their bodies, I knew there was something strikingly different about them. I don’t think they knew each other before, but there they were at the Tennessee Avenue Baptist Church in Bristol, TN where Willard Tallman was the long-time pastor of the church and of these two people.
They were unusually peaceful and vibrant people. When Rex prayed, I didn’t want him to stop. He brought down heavenly glory when he prayed. I have often wished I could have prayed like that. They were both real people. Nothing phony about them. Of course, they died again even as Lazarus died again and waited his turn for his glorified body.
Jesus had not yet died and been resurrected in His glorified, eternal body. That was coming soon. Several years later, Paul wrote: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1Co 15:20-23)
These verses fulfill the annual practice of the Jewish priest who received a bundle of grain and waived it before the Lord as a gesture of thanksgiving for the grain of that year. It was also a symbol of faith that weather would permit them to gather in the rest of the harvest.
Notice in the explanation above (v.23) that Christ, Himself was the total of the Firstfruits. He was not one stalk, one small part of the sheaf of grain. He was the whole sheaf of grain that made up the Firstfruits.
Notice when the rest of the harvest would be gathered in: “at His coming.” It is simple. Christ is the Firstfruits. They that are Christ’s will be gathered at His coming. Other than Jesus, I don’t know of a single person in the Bible who was raised with a glorified body that could walk through doors. If I am wrong about this, I will be indebted you if you will show me.
When Jesus arose from the grave, many dead saints also came out of the previously opened graves and went “into the Holy City.” They were buried outside the city. They went into the city and appeared unto many. Some have portrayed these are part of the resurrected sheaf of grain called, “Firstfruits.” They are pictured as having resurrection bodies.
However, the Scripture above says that just Christ was the Firstfruits. There is no account of the raised saints walking through doors. It is inferred that they were only recently buried and that they went into town and carried out their assignment of showing themselves alive to people who, no doubt had attended their funerals.
It was God’s plan to make the type bold and underscored that Jesus had truly been raised from the dead. The enemies of the cross and the Roman government had a very big problem with not only Jesus, but many dead people leaving their graves and going into the Holy City and showing themselves alive unto many. We need to lay hold on this great truth.
Neither the Jewish leaders nor the Roman soldiers could gather up all these feathers that had been blown into the wind and stuff them away out of sight.
The resurrection of Christ and these dead people was an explosion that could not be suppressed. It still cannot be suppressed unless today’s Christians refuse to talk about it, refuse to stand upon the solid rock of testimony that our God has provided for us. Yes, these saints died again, because they did not have glorified bodies.
Jesus was the only one who had a glorified body that could walk through doors and grave stones. These saints had their graves opened for them even as did Lazarus. He had to have help in getting his grave clothes off. The Bible does not say how the many saints managed to get their grave clothes off or if they wore their grave clothes into town.
We assume that Jesus and the raised saints were provided appropriate clothing.
We read that the Israelites walked in the desert 40 years in the same pair of shoes and the shoes did not get old or worn. So, the clothing for the resurrected Jesus and the risen saints was not a problem for the God who had raised them from the dead. Their public clothing was provided for them. We are safe in assuming that’s the way it happened.
Our picture for today shows people resurrected in American clothes. I doubt that was the case. When Jesus comes and the massive crop of the bodies of saints are raised from the dead, I’ve often wondered how they will be clothed. I doubt if Walmart or Belks will get the contract to clothe the resurrected saints. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
MAY 3, 2017 - WEDNESDAY
A.M. 1Kings 6-7 P.M. Luke 23:27-38
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Memory Verse This Month:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44)
Song for Today:
My Hope is Jesus (3:58) (CMC Sou.Pines,NC)