I've often wondered why this Good Friday account found in Matthew's Gospel is rarely, if ever, talked about:
"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 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!' " Matthew 27:50-54 ESV
Perhaps it is because apparently through the centuries there have been many interpretations of these verses, called signs, and their significance. All three of these signs (the curtain of the temple torn in two from top to bottom, the earthquake and opening of tombs, and the resurrection of some saints) appear to have happened at the three o'clock hour on Good Friday, at precisely the moment when Jesus gave up his spirit. We've all heard reference to the first two in sermons and hymns, but how often have we heard about the saints who were raised from the dead, many of them?
For one thing, I think we don't want to entertain the thought that some dead saints were raised before Christ was raised. Scripture does seem to indicate that they did not appear to many in Jerusalem until after Christ's resurrection, but it seems quite clear that they came out of their tombs at the same time the other signs occurred, namely, at the time of Christ's death.
What a mysterious event! Can we even dare to imagine this sight, people who had died and were buried in tombs, coming back to life and making appearances to many people?
We do not know where they were from 3 o'clock on Good Friday until sometime after Christ's resurrection on Sunday morning. But they did not appear to many until then. Likewise, we do not know where Christ was during the moments in between his bodily appearances after his resurrection. But we know that he did appear at least 10 times, and to hundreds of people.
I'm not a theologian in the strict sense of the word, but I do think that possibly the reason we don't hear about the saints that were raised from the dead is it sets up a conflict with the idea that Christ was the first to rise in a resurrection body. I'm sure there is an explanation, and maybe by next Easter I'll have it figured out! Obviously the coming back to life in bodily form for those saints is connected with the significance of the death and resurrection of the One and Only Lord who is praised forever and ever. The power of this historical event may never be fully understood this side of eternity, and I'm ok with that.