“Aside from Jesus healing people, this appears to me as the biggest supernatural event in the Gospel: Other people rising from the dead, out of graves.”
Then it pop out two questions:
Why it is not found elsewhere in New Testament and why only one-line mention for this event?
To begin with, it is not clear in what way this event is felt as the “only” greatest supernatural event in Gospel, particularly in view of the fact that there are many other instances in Gospel about the people rising from the dead.
Each and every miracle that Jesus performed, including numerous other phenomenons that surrounded Him (His birth, transfiguration etc.) were not ordinary but were all greatest supernatural events. Regardless of this, we find that some of these events are not mentioned in all the Gospels.
It is common to see that some people attack the Bible for having four versions of the same story in the Gospels and other people attack the Bible for not having four exact copies of the same stories in the Gospels. Birth of Jesus is mentioned only in Matthew and Luke. Since it is not mentioned in Mark and John does it means that we should discard the fact that he was ever born?
Likewise out of many other similar instances that are mentioned in New Testament about people rising from the dead, some of them are uniquely found only in a particular Gospel. The event of Lazarus rising from the dead is recorded only in John’s Gospel and in no other gospel. This event in Mathew in similar manner is recorded only in Mathew. Both are not ordinary events yet they are not appearing in all the Gospels.
Possible reasons for “these passages” not appearing in other Gospels:
We can only speculate. Nevertheless we can certainly deduce following conclusions by having a closer look at these passages:
- “The graves opened”. It would be not right to take these words literally because when someone is raised from the death, this is likely to be an expression in describing that event.
- “Many of God’s people who had died were raised from the death”. Note that not all the dead people came out of graves but only God’s people (Holy people) came back to life.
- Also note that the next passage is very specifically saying that they went to holy city- meaning Jerusalem. It is not that these dead people came out of the grave and strolled the streets of their respective localities where they lived. We can conclude here that they were seen by a very few people, that too by those who were in the know of recognising them.
- This event would be a personal experience for each one of these people who saw the risen people and would not be a public phenomenon or an exhibition, where all the dead people would be parading through the holy city with a tag on them so that all people will see.
- These “God’s people” could also be from all over the world. So it is unlikely that all the people who saw them in (holy city) Jerusalem would recognise them.
- There is another possibility: These few chosen people witnessing the event, could be also holy people who were witnessing their presence in holy city something similar to encounter of Jesus with a few chosen, for we find something like this here:
Acts. 10:40 but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen, 10:41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
What Mathew is recording was possibly his own testimony of this unique event or of those pious witnesses who confided in him during his ministry in the holy city.
Hence it is likely that this event was occurring in isolation with the knowledge of few and failed to rattle everyone in the holy city to become it known to everyone at that time. We would never know God’s mind but one possible reason for restricting the knowledge of this event to few chosen could be that Jesus was not yet resurrected and for that reason the Jews were not be alerted about it till it happened. This event in Mathew could be one of such kind, which was known only to a very few and somehow Mathew was one of the few who knew it.
Regarding second sub-question: The context where this event is narrated is in the midst of narration of yet another great event that was occurring: Dying of Son of God on cross for the humanity. Deviating from the narration of this and detailing on an event of people rising from the dead (when there are already other detailed narrations running into several verses on such similar events elsewhere in Gospels) would have diluted the importance of this main event of dying on the cross.