Joseph Francis Alward
Matthew--and only Matthew--tells us that a profound event occurred after Jesus gave up the ghost and rose to heaven.
Now from the sixth hour there
was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour
Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to
say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?… And, behold, the veil of the
temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake,
and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints
which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and
went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Paul, who spoke at great length (1 Corinthians 15:12-17) to convince his listeners that Jesus' resurrection had occurred, had nothing to say about it either; surely his listeners would have quite readily accepted the resurrection of Jesus if the resurrection of saints "appearing to many" were a fact.
One has to wonder how long the "many bodies" of these saints had been in their graves. Hundreds of years? What a stir the sight of many grotesquely shriveled, stinking corpses, walking into the holy city, must have caused. The appearance of these bodies "unto many" must have been the sensation of a lifetime for the residents of Jerusalem, but, if this remarkable event actually happened, why was Matthew the only one who reported it?
Also, how come Matthew doesn't think we should know the names of the saints which rose from their graves? Why doesn't he tell us with whom the bodies of the saints met, and what they said--assuming they said anything, and where they went after their appearance unto the many? Did the bodies of the saints dutifully return to their graves after a polite visit, or did they remain for years among the residents of Jerusalem? Can anyone but the most faithful accept this story?
For an excellent, more thorough discussion of the resurrected saints, I urge the reader to read Resurrected Saints, by Ed Babinsky.