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When Zombies Roamed the Streets of Jerusalem

  • Tim Thornborough
  • 2017 27 Oct
When Zombies Roamed the Streets of Jerusalem

There are some parts of the Bible that seem seriously weird to us. Take the end of Matthew 27 for example, with its image of the undead wandering around Jerusalem. It’s one of those passages that I’ve never heard anyone preach on, possibly because it seems to raise more questions than it answers.

And yet, as always, when we take the time to dig a bit deeper some things start to come in focus.

"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, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and 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

Matthew’s description of the death of Jesus, written for a Jewish audience steeped in scripture, is packed with hints and echoes from the Old Testament. Jesus' final breath causes rocks to split, the temple curtain to rend, the earth to shake, graves to split open. Powerful symbols of the significance of Jesus sacrificial death. The son of God dies and the world he created shudders in horror.

But there is more to come. Since the fall, the world has been locked into the “life-death cycle”. But  as the Son of God rises, death starts to work backwards. Life flows generously and abundantly from and through Jesus into the bodies of those who knew him (the “saints”). Suddenly the life-death cycle becomes the life-death-life cycle. It is a powerful statement of what he died and rose to achieve: he brings life to all who belong to him.

The zombies of popular imagination are rotting corpses, filled with evil intent and the hunger for human flesh. But at the very first Night of the Living Dead, on the very first Easter Sunday, everything is different. This is not a story of terror, but of hope. There is life beyond the grave for those who know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. It is a promise of life in a resurrection body for all eternity.

Of course, there remain many unanswerable questions: who were these “saints”? What became of them? What did they look like, and what did they do. As with many other questions about life and death, we do not know the answers; we are not told.

But what we do know is that those who are connected to Jesus find glorious, joyous, rock splitting, curtain-cleaving life for ever.

Now that’s something that’s worth talking about on halloween, or any day of the year. Is Hell For Real? and Did The Devil Make Me Do It? are both titles from our Questions Christians Ask series; short, readable books which clearly explain how the Bible answers the questions Christians are asking.

Content taken from The Good Book Blog. Used with permission.

Tim Thornborough is the Creative Director at The Good Book Company. He is series editor of Explore Bible-reading notes, and has contributed to many books published by The Good Book Company and others. He is married to Kathy and has three teenage daughters and a boy.

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