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. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Later on Jesus told his disciples, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Still later, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
This does not mean that the resurrection of those who came out of their tombs at the time of Christ’s resurrection was their final resurrection. I imagine that they all died again. But while theirs was not the final resurrection, it was a resurrection, and it pointed to the day when all who are Christ’s will be raised by him.
Paul wrote, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will be changed-in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothed itself with the imperishable,and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:51-57). The resurrection of many of the saints who had died when Jesus rose was a pledge that it is coming and an encouragement for those who wait for it.
Here we have four great miracles: the hours of darkness, the tearing of the veil, the earthquake, and the resurrection of many holy persons who had died. There was also a fifth miracle, and it was the greatest one of all.
Standing by the cross was the Roman centurion, the leader of those who had the task of crucifying Jesus. We can assume he was a pagan, but when he saw what happened when Jesus died, God quickened him to spiritual life, and he cried out with true faith, “Surely he was the Son of God” (v. 54). It may not have been a full confession. It lacked much that he would surely come to know later. But it was correct as far as it went, and we cannot doubt that Matthew included it as an example of what is required of all who come face to face with Jesus. Have you made that confession, acknowledging that Jesus is both the Son of God and your Savior? You need to. It is the only way that anyone can be saved.