Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened… (Mat 27:50-52a)
The earthquake opened graves near the cross. Not all the graves; just the graves of many of the saints from the Jerusalem area. The earthquake and the opening of the graves coincided with three hours of mid-day darkness and the ripping of the 60’ veil in the Temple and Jesus’ penetrating cry of victory as He gave up His spirit into the hands of His Father.
For the one million people packed into and around Jerusalem for the annual observance of Passover, these things were overwhelming evidence that the hand of God was orchestrating these dramatic events. Not only were the Jews impressed; the Roman Centurion who commanded a hundred battle-hardened Roman soldiers concluded: “This is the Son of God!”
When the graves were opened, we must realize that the tomb where they laid Jesus was not a typical burying place. Isaiah said: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isa 53:9) Jesus was crucified between two criminals and buried in a rich man’s grave, (Joseph of Arimathea).
The graves that were opened were not elaborate graves like the new tomb Jesus was buried in. It had a stone that could be rolled in a stone trough to seal the entrance. It was designed to be opened and closed several times to admit the future burial of members of the family. Most people were buried in holes dug into the ground, just like today. The stone memorials that were laid on top of the graves varied according the wealth of the family.
“Please note that the graves opened but no one came out of the graves at that time. No one would have broken the Sabbath to repair the opened graves. So, the opened graves lay there gaping open for crowds of people to see them. If they had been opened only to enable dead people to come out of them, would they not have been opened later? No, the stark appearance of these opened graves was an intensified witness of the occasion. An earthquake had opened certain graves and left other graves untouched. These graves contained the bodies of saints. The opened graves were one of the miracles of Calvary.
“We have the rending of rocks and opening of graves. They are not the same thing. The rending of rocks involved force. The opening of the graves involved design. The rending of rocks gave no prophecy of the future. But the opening of the graves was a budding of the coming glory. In a few hours, dead people would come out of those graves. Clearly, the opening of the graves was an exhibition of a greater truth that coincided with several other things” (Nicholson, edited)
The most thrilling thing about the opened graves is the rest of the story that plays out when Jesus comes out of His grave. Keep in mind that a million people are in town witnessing these things. After the drama is over, they will go back home and spread their testimony for the rest of their lives. They will be talking with their children and handing down the story to their grandchildren and the greatgrandchildren. This is truly, the greatest Passover! Ever! Tomorrow we will look at the rest of the story of the opened graves. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
APRIL 27, 2017 – THURSDAY
A.M. 2 Sam 17-18 P.M. Luke 21:1-19
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Memory Verse This Month:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Act 2:36)
Song for Today:
Then Came Sunday (3:38) (CMC ) (Choir)
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