On Page 288, we see a confusing text in the 27th chapter of Matthew. It reads like this…
“50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 27:50-53)
One small group asked, “who were they (holy people), were they really physically raised and what happened to them.” This is a great questions. Commentators and scholars scratch their heads a bit in large part because there isn’t much in scripture to compare this passage to.
The quick answer is…. we don’t know for sure. : )
The longer answer is….here is an idea. D.A. Carson (In his commentary on Matthew) suggests that the language implies that those who were raised were well-known Old Testament and intertestamental (the time between the old and new testament about 400 years) Jewish “saints” or spiritual rock stars in the history of Israel and the resurrection was to supernatural bodies and not to natural bodies.
The significance of this whole scene emphasizes the access of people to God (through the earthquake and breaking of the veil) and Jesus sacrificial death/resurrection which blots out sins and defeats death. The resurrection of the “Holy People” at the resurrection of Jesus symbolizes the final resurrection of those who die in him.