And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many.
Now the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.Matthew 27:51-54 ASV
And the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent. Why was this earthquake a miracle, seeing that earthquakes are ordinary events?
The peculiar violence of the quake was sufficient in the vicinity of Calvary to rend the rocks, yet the great buildings of Jerusalem, not more than a mile away, were left undisturbed.
Insinuations of skeptics and even some commentators that no earthquake occurred are dissolved in the plain light of the New Testament words that “the earth did quake” (Matthew 27:52) and that the people who witnessed it “feared exceedingly” (Matthew 27:54).
There is a historical occurrence of just this type of earthquake within very recent times, Three-quarters of a mile northeast of the village of Novice, Texas, during the 1950’s, a violent earthquake took place in the center of a cornfield at three o’clock in the morning, while the village was asleep.
Our family friend, was living there at the time, and I have seen the devastation wrought by that earthquake in which several hundred thousand tons of rocks, some of them ten feet in thickness, were rent and cast up from the earth in a very grotesque geological disturbance covering many acres in the heart of that field.
Seismometry teams from a number of universities and colleges examined it and diagnosed it as an earthquake, having a very high epicenter, with the focus only a couple of hundred feet beneath.
The strange story of that little earthquake received widespread newspaper coverage throughout the United States, especially in scientific journals; and there are many pictures of it, some of which were made by this writer, and which show the corn rows leading directly into it.
As a matter of comparison, none of the houses in Novice was damaged by that violent little earthquake so near to it, although the shock was sufficient to rouse people from their slumbers for many miles in all directions.
Any traveler to Golgotha needs only to consult his eyes to see that it happened. To this day, Golgotha is a proof of it, where the rocks were rent on account of Christ.
If this extraordinary earthquake was of the type described above, its miraculous element would consist of its extreme rarity and timing; but there is the strongest evidence that it was far more than that.
Now we say that this earthquake was not only supernatural, but non-natural as well that is, miraculous.
It was supernatural in that it was an interference of God, and non-natural, in that it was not the result of any of the natural causes of earthquakes, or any combination of them.
The meaning of the earthquake does not lie solely in the opening of the grave but bears an independent testimony of its own.
It was Calvary answering to Sinai.
There was a great earthquake at Sinai (Exodus 19:18) when the Law was given; and that Law, so long associated with sin and death (Romans 8:2), was being removed and replaced by the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
Appropriately, the earth itself should have borne witness to the event that mercy had triumphed over justice, and grace had superseded law.