There is a very strange verse in the gospel of Matthew.
After his (Jesus’) resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:53)
Actually, the verse is not strange if you know about the concept of general resurrection. That’s the only way resurrection was supposed to work. Everybody would be resurrected together. Any other kind of resurrection would be strange.The idea that one person would be resurrected without other people being resurrected, or that one person would be resurrected and others would be resurrected thousands of years later – well, that is a concept or story, as N.T. Wright, a conservative theologian puts it, “without precedent” (N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, p. 53). And Christians today act as if Christianity makes sense!
So point 1 is: nobody expected the resurrection of just one person.
Point 2 is: apparently, according to Matthew’s gospel, the general resurrection got started – dead people coming out of tombs and walking around Jerusalem (not an everyday kind of event), but then it petered out. We are left clueless as to why the general resurrection – dare I say it? – died out. What happened to those out-of-the-tomb folk? Did they crawl back into the tomb? Did they grab a cup of coffee? Did they get hitched up and have another batch of kids? What happened? We aren’t told. We want to know, but we aren’t told. All we know is the general resurrection petered out. At best, it was just a hiccup.
Point three: It’s not looking like the general resurrection is going to get jump started by any of us any time soon.
My cousins, Dare Smith Tharpe and Bygie Mattick, visited their mother’s (my Aunt Bobbie’s) grave on January 5. That would be Aunt Bobbie’s birthday. She would have been 89. Happy bday, Aunt Bobbie! Dare and Bygie make an annual trek to the cemetery on their mother’s birthday. This year they took a big, and I mean big – a big box of chocolates with them.
Here’s my logic: if the dead didn’t come out of their graves for chocolate, what would they come out for?
The next time you come across a Christian who knows it all ask them about those dead people coming out of the graves in Matthew’s gospel. And if you are looking for a church, find one in which people don’t have all the answers.