Matt 27:51-53 The Rending of the Veil CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he yielded up the ghost, which is to say that his spirit went up to God (Lk 23:46, Ecc 12:7). Simultaneously, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, the earth quaked and the rocks rent. These were major events that caused even the centurion to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.
The rending of the veil in the temple signifies three things.
First, it signifies that the way into the holiest is now through the flesh of Jesus Christ (Heb 10:17-20). In the Old Testament, the high priest entered into the holy of holies once each year to place blood on the mercy seat as an atonement for the sins of Israel. He could only enter after making the appropriate sacrifice acceptable to God. This took place on the tenth day of the seventh month each year and it is known as the day of atonement. See Lev 16:11-19, 29 and Heb 9:7-8.
Now, because Jesus Christ is the sacrifice acceptable to God, there is no more need for a priest to offer sacrifices for himself and for us. We have access directly to God himself through Jesus Christ (Eph 2:16-18). Hence, the veil was rent in twain.
Second, it signifies that we have direct access to the Lord without a priest since there is no more need for a priest to offer sacrifices on our behalf. Thus, we are priests (1 Pet 2:9) who can come before the throne of God anytime we want (Heb 4:16). And instead of offering blood sacrifices, we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Heb 13:15-16; Rom 12:1-2). Hence, the veil was rent in twain.
Third, it signifies that there was going to be a change of the temple from a building to our bodies. The priest entered the holy of holies in a building to present the atonement before God. But now God resides in our bodies, so there is no more need to go through the veil to approach unto him (1 Cor 3:16; Lk 17:20-21). Hence, the veil was rent in twain.
The opening of the graves took place after the resurrection of Jesus. This is important because Jesus was the first one to rise (Col 1:18). Some of the bodies of the Old Testament saints arose and appeared unto many during the night. Evidently, they were to have been a testimony to the resurrection of Jesus since Jews require a sign [1 Cor 1:22]. They could have had an effect on the Jews like the resurrection of Lazarus had on making believers [Jn 12:9-11]
After those bodies appeared the bible doesn’t say what happened to them. They could have been raptured when Jesus ascended the first time (Jn 20:17; Matt 28:9). This is probable since the souls of the Old Testament saints went up at the first ascension (Eph 4:8-10).
They could have returned to the graves that night before Mary discovered, at sunrise, that Jesus had arisen. He arose after 6 pm on the night following the Sabbath (between Saturday and Sunday morning). So, these saints could have appeared unto many for as much as 10-12 hours. If David were one of the saints that appeared, then we know that these bodies returned to the graves. Because David remained in the grave according to Peter (Acts 2:29, 34). We also know from Eze 37 that many more saints remained in their graves waiting for the 2nd Advent at which time they will come up at the national resurrection of Israel.
It is very unlikely that these bodies remained alive for a while like Lazarus and then died again. Jesus had taken the souls of the Old Testament saints out of Abraham’s bosom when he arose and he led them captive. If these saints had remained alive down here, then their souls would have had to return into their bodies and not go up with the rest of the saints who were in Abraham’s bosom. That seems unlikely since nothing more is said about them than this.