The original Biblical Zombie Apocalypse, for real!

If you believe the Bible, you MUST believe this rarely told story from Matthew’s gospel. It involves dead bodies coming to life and wandering the streets of Jerusalem after Jesus’ death on the cross. Don’t believe me? Read it below!

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:50-54)

Exactly who these “holy ones” were is a matter of conjecture (if you believe the Bible). The early Christians thought it many have been those from the days of Noah in reference to another passage.

18″For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19After being made alive, d he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water…” (1 Peter 3:18-20)

Whomever the writer had in mind is inconsequential to the imagery he creates. Jesus dies, the veil in the temple separating the most Holy of Holies from the Holy Place is rent in two, an earthquake so severe it breaks the rock tombs allowing the recently resurrected saints to stroll into Jerusalem. What a sight!

Modern commentators propose these were the first “Christian” martyrs who died for Jesus during his ministry.

Biblical scholars of course question its historicity supposing it was a legend turned into an actual account by the author, but if you’re a Bible believing Christian or evangelical, it literally took place and was witnessed by many.

However, if it had taken place as recorded, it raises myriads of problems for those who trust in the divine authority and infallibility of the Bible. First, did these bodies remain alive and go to heaven? If so, they would precede Jesus resurrection which is impossible (1 Corinthians 15:23). On the other hand, if they did not, where did they go and how long did they live? Why is there no record of this incredible event in Jewish historical records?

Second, why is Matthew the only one of the gospel writers to include it? An event of this magnitude would surely be worthy of inclusion by all of them.

By far the biggest problem with treating this as historical as the undeniable impact it would have on Jesus’ promised resurrection which had not yet taken place. Jesus had been steadily preaching of his impending death and resurrection to countless Jewish pilgrims not to mention his own disciples. Yet at the time of his alleged resurrection NO A SINGLE FOLLOWER WAS AT HIS TOMB. This is inexplicable given its importance and is the single greatest piece of evidence against the resurrection of Jesus having occurred.

The gospel record the Jewish leaders, the Romans and the thief on the cross all being acutely aware of Jesus’ promised resurrection. If anybody should have been eagerly anticipating it especially after his death (a powerful reminder), it was his closest followers whom he had repeatedly informed. Even when informed by Mary of the empty grave and her encounter with an angel who confirmed Jesus’ resurrection, they were incredulous.

The disciples had a resurrection experience or a mystical encounter with the risen Jesus which was construed as every bit as real as if he appeared in person. This is the myth that became a legend eventually evolving into physical contacts with Jesus.

38″The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, c he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38-39)

46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” e When he had said this, he breathed his last.

46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” e When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:46,47)

TEXTUAL NOTE: Matthew includes the temporal clause, “after Jesus’ resurrection” (vs. 53) which is an obvious emendation from a later copyist. When compared with Mark and Luke’s identical event (see above), it is undeniable these dramatic occurrences took place “at that moment” (vs. 51, ‘idou,’ “Behold”) of Jesus death and not at the tomb.

Published by ronarends

I was born in London, Ontario, Canada. I attended Capernwray Bible School (England and Austria), Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Il.), the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario), London Baptist Seminary (London, Ontario) and Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, Tx.). I have had several temporary jobs over the years but my focus has alway been on an investigative study of the Bible, Jesus and Christianity particularly evangelicalism. Currently editing a massive literary undertaking deconstructing Christianity and Jesus.

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