Q. Re: Matt. 27:52-53. I know that the saints will be risen at the rapture with Christ, but what was the purpose of these people being resurrected with Him? Is there a cross reference stating who the saints were He chose to allow to rise and who did they go to? I would think that they should have played a major role in the start of the church but they didn’t, so what was their purpose?
A. When the women went to the Lord’s tomb on the morning after the Sabbath and discovered it was empty, it was on the day called the Feast of Firstfruits. It was a Jewish holy day, but one on which work was permitted, and the first “work day” since the crucifixion. Its purpose was to dedicate the spring harvest to the Lord.
While they were at the tomb, the priests were in the fields cutting a sample of the harvest to bring to the temple. This sample was called the wave offering because they waved the bundles of grain they had cut before the Lord in a ceremony that dedicated the entire harvest to Him in gratitude for His bounty. You can read about this in Leviticus 23:9-14.
There’s no record of the identities of the people who were also resurrected on that morning or who they appeared to when they went into Jerusalem, but here’s my opinion on the purpose of their resurrection.
Jesus is called the firstfruits of them who have fallen asleep (1 Cor. 15:20) meaning He was the first to be resurrected from the dead. I believe the people of Matt. 27:52-53 were the fulfillment of the wave offering, a sample of the first resurrection, who were brought before God in a ceremony that dedicated all who would follow to Him.