Explain about the resurrection that occurred at the death of Jesus

Caller: I have a question on Matthew 27 verse 52

Pastor Doug: Ok.

Caller: ...And I guess it kind of goes into 53 also, where it says that the tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs. After His resurrection, they went into the Holy City and appeared to many. That's from the Revised Standard Version. Well what reason did they rise and then what happened to them later?

Pastor Doug: Well evidently - and incidentally, Matthew is the only Gospel that shares this detail - but there was a miniature resurrection that took place during the death and resurrection of Christ because they rose when He died, His death bought them that right. When He ascended to Heaven Sunday - you remember Sunday when Mary grabbed Him by the feet to worship Him? He said, 'Do not cling to me [the way the original reads] for I have not yet ascended to my Father.'

When Christ ascended Sunday morning, it says that He lead captivity captive. Evidently some of these saints who had been resurrected - you noticed this was not a universal resurrection? It says many of the bodies of the saints that slept in Jerusalem were opened. And so some of the Patriarchs and Prophets and Kings, maybe Jeremiah was there, maybe Isaiah, maybe even John the Baptist they rose and ascended to Heaven.

And then when you read in Revelation chapter 4, it talks about these 24 Elders that are around the Throne in Heaven - this could be among that assembly that ascended like a first fruits, sort of a wave sheath that the Lord brought of a victory, His victory over sin on the Cross when He said it was finished.

Caller: So after they rose they ascended to Heaven?

Pastor Doug: Yeah they appeared to people in the city between their rising. You see when Christ died, the graves open and they rose. Between His rising and His ascending, it says they went into the city and they appeared and some people saw these apparitions of Isaiah and the great Patriarchs who then ascended with Christ.

Caller: Okay that explains a whole lot then - that explains a whole lot. Thank you very much.