Christ’s death opened the graves. His death destroyed the power of death. The power of death is sin. Death entered into the world by sin and is the penalty of sin. Therefore, the death of Christ, who was sinless, enabled Him to bear the penalty of sin for His people.
But death mainly consists in the separation of the soul from the life of God, the decomposition of the body illustrating merely the shadow of death. Therefore, when Jesus died and bore the penalty of sin for His people, His death was not only in His body but much more terrifyingly in the awful affliction of His soul. He was cursed for our sake that we might be saved from the curse. In this way He extinguished the penalty of sin for us and made it possible for us to escape all the condemnation of our sin.
This was, therefore, the symbolic purpose behind the opening of the graves at the instant of His death. The power of sin to bring death was broken by His death, and all obstacles to our attaining true eternal life, both of soul and body, were entirely removed.
The prison doors opened
Jesus’s death opened those prison doors, removed the guard, and cleared the way. His own resurrection was the first use of that new freedom.
His death guaranteed for His people the blessings of their resurrection in that it abolished the obstacles to that new life. His resurrection was the imparting of that blessedness upon His people. His death allowed us to be legally freed from the penalty of sin; His resurrection is the actual deliverance itself. His death allowed us to be pardoned from sin; His resurrection is the proof that the payment was accepted.
His death opened Hades; His resurrection emptied Hades. His death is the grave opened; His resurrection is the dead bodies of His saints rising from their graves into life incorruptible and eternal! Such is the redeeming power of the death of Jesus Christ. “The tombs broke open” (Matthew 27:52). As a result, there no longer remain any obstacles to anyone being personally delivered from eternal death. “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me,” Jesus said, “has crossed over from death to life” (john 5:24), and “will never die” (John 11:26).
All who place their trust in Christ have been freed in their conscience from the condemnation of sin and live now as children of God, because they have already passed from death into life. In the meantime, their mortal bodies wait for their divine appointment, because all obstructions have been removed. The path from the grave up to the very presence of God, where nothing but eternal joy and pleasure await them, has been cleared.
The work is finished
At the instant of Christ’s death, the graves were opened. Remember that. At the very instant of His death, all our sins were completely answered for. The graves were not just partly opened; the obstacles were not just partly removed.
There is nothing left for us to achieve in regard to our pardon and acceptance with God. We are able to add nothing to the work of Christ. Our salvation from sin is in Him at this very moment, and it is perfect.