I know the exact moment when I began picturing Jesus’ death along with zombies coming up from their tombs and roaming around. It was one year ago that one of my favorite writers, Norris Burkes, an Air National Guard Chaplain, wrote an article entitled “Taking a Leap of Faith Isn’t Crazy”. In it, he quoted some unfamiliar verses, and I have to admit, when I first read them I thought, “Yeah. Right. I can’t remember ever reading anything like that.”
“Night of the Living Dead” in the book of Matthew? Seriously?
I then I read it.
The Matthew 27 passage, at Christ’s death:
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When 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 NIV
Did you catch that part about people coming out of their graves? Tombs opening? The once dead appearing to many people?
Any other reporters on the scene?
I love looking up parallel events from different Gospel writers (like I did here), but for this particular occasion, Matthew is the only one weighing in. And from searching on the Internet, that seems to bother some folks.
If you start Googling “Matthew 27:52-53” you’ll find some people who are really disturbed with these verses, even to the point of saying that some overzealous translators must have added them in to add some extra “zest” to the story. As though the story really needs that.
Zombies on the Loose!
Were these “walking dead” some sort of gruesome concoction of zombies like out of the “I Am Legend” or the “Another 28 Days” movies? Did they have half-eaten faces and walk around with arms outstretched like the previews from the AMC television series, “The Walking Dead“?
I doubt it.
That part about “many holy people who had died were raised to life” gives me the sense that these people were recognizable to those of their day. Many Bible versions, including the King James Version, translate this section as “bodies of the saints“.
Saints, huh? Believers? The good guys?
Can you imagine yourself as a long ago Jerusalem resident, an earthquake suddenly shaking your home, and as you try to make sense of what’s going on, there’s a knock at your door – it’s your beloved brother whom you know had been dead and buried? Or maybe it’s Joseph — Jesus’ step-dad – hugging his sons and daughters again. Or John the Baptist – with his head back on! What kind of tales would they tell? What kind of wonders had they seen?
Maybe “Zombies” or “The Walking Dead” isn’t exactly the best description for these folks. Why, they seem more like “The Walking Living“.
Hollywood’s monsters can be scary, but these saints seem to defy that description all the way. A shocking event? Sure, I’ll give you that. But scary? I’m not so sure. Why, it seems easier to imagine them actually smiling with joy during this event rather than going, “Boo!”
It seems to me that these people simply were being themselves, after being given an unusual touch of God’s life and love.
Maybe I can’t explain why God allowed this unusual scene in history, but deep inside I know the change His love and life is making in me.
The Walking Living. Yeah, I can relate to that.
And there’s nothing scary about that.
Read Norris Burke’s “Taking a Leap of Faith Isn’t Crazy” article – Click here
Read Matthew 27:50-54 at BibleGateway.com – Click here
Online Parallel Bible Website for: Matthew 27:52 and Matthew 27:53
Feeding of the Five Thousand – a Green Perspective from Mark — by Ron Masters (yeah, that’s me)
Hollywood Zombies more to your liking? Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
AMC’s The Walking Dead Official Site – Click Here
IMDB – I Am Legend – Click Here
IMDB – 28 Days Later… – Click Here