Matthew’s Passion: The cross is victory

Matthew’s Passion: The dawn of the dead?

40 Blogs of Lent: 37

Matthew 27:51-56

What are we to make of the zombie apocalypse in Matthew’s Gospel? Jesus dies, God dies and then tombs are opened and the dead roam the streets like a scene from The Dawn Of The Dead.

The events in Matthew’s Gospel are a different kind of apocalypse to Night Of The Living Dead. No slow moving, unintelligent creatures here.


This appears only in Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew’s reasons for including so fantastic a passage are curious. One is that he was using apocalyptic language, something that would have been understandable to the readers at the time. This passage resonates with the Book of Revalation and parts of the Old Testament that are known to be apocalyptic and their truth is not necessarily to be found in a literal reading.  It is truth, but that is to be found in the symbolism used.

But if the apocalyptic language theory is wrong, and these events happened in a literal way there has to be a reason that this was includedin the Gospel and has now become scripture. There has to be a reason behind the inclusion of the passage. That message is the same whether the truth is symbolic or literal, and whether it is symbolic or literal it is still truth.

This passage points to the victory of the cross. Jesus dies and the saints are resurrected. Jesus dies and is victorious. Jesus has completed his mission.

The temple testifies to the victory. The curtain that separates God from the people is torn in two. There is no separation. Jesus has won it.

The Earth testifies to Christ’s victory with a rock shattering earthquake.

The dead testify to the victory. Their graves are opened and they are bodily resurrected.

The occupying army testify to the victory of the Christ. The Centurian, their representative, recognises Jesus as the Son of God.

There are women standing by who are witnesses of the victory.

Life has conqured death, Jesus Christ has won it.

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 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!”

55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27 ESVUK

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Free image by ErikaWittlieb on

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