Matthew 27:51-55

Mat 27:51 (KJB)
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

When Jesus had died, in the temple, the veil was rent in two from top to bottom which was the second veil between the Holy Place and Holy of Holies. It was rent from the top because it would have shown that no mere human did this. The thickness of the veil was a handbreadth equal to about 3 inches or 7.6 cm. It was an act of God. The Holy of Holies was now open and there was no more need for a human High Priest because one can now approach the Father through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 14:6 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. The era of the Mosaic system was now at an end and the age of grace began. Then there was a great earthquake at that time and one of the things that Jesus told His disciples was that earthquakes did not mean the end. It was just the beginning but right now all things looked bleak. (Nahum 1:5 KJV) The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.

Mat 27:52 (KJB)
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

Since there was a great earthquake, the graves of many of the saints were opened. No doubt the rocks which were rent and the stones which were in front of the graves had moved because of the earthquake and caused the graves to be opened. The Jews could not go out there and close them back up because the evening was fast approaching which meant the Sabbath and the Passover. The graves remained open until after the resurrection of Christ very early on Sunday morning. Then once Christ arose, the bodies of the saints who had previously died, known as sleep for the believer had arisen.

Mat 27:53 (KJB)
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Then after Jesus was resurrected, than all the believers that were raised with Him at that time also came out of their graves. This showed the power Jesus had over death as His followers were resurrected. There are two possible understandings of this verse. The first is that these were the graves of the early believers who had died and upon the resurrection of Jesus, they were returned to life. Now not the type of life where they would have to die again but it would be having a body like the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be they had gone into Jerusalem and spoke with other believers. In the three year ministry of Jesus, He had raised three people from the dead and this may have been a situation like the bones of Elisha. (2 Ki 13:21 KJV) And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet. When a man was being let down in his grave, his body touched the bones of Elisha and instantly he was revived and lived again. These who were resurrected were testimonies of the fact that Jesus defeated death and they were to strengthen the other believers in Jerusalem.

The second possible understanding is that these believers who were resurrected went directly into Heaven and appeared to many of the Old Testament Saints. (Rev 21:2 KJV) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The holy city is also called the New Jerusalem which is the body of believers. On the last day, the believers will be resurrected unto their glorified spiritual bodies and will reside in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Mat 27:54 (KJB)
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

Now back to the crucifixion on Friday. Once Jesus had died, and the centurion had seen all the things surrounding the crucifixion including the earthquake, he had no problem in realizing that Jesus was different and He was no regular prisoner. He no doubt heard others speaking about the fact that Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God and I am sure the centurion was at many other executions and never saw anything like the events he witnessed that day. It caused him to realize that Jesus was who He claimed to be and that was the Son of God. Maybe this centurion had become saved at that time or at a later time because there were some centurions who had become saved. Cornelius was a good example of this. The fear that he experienced had turned into his better understanding of who Jesus was.

Mat 27:55 (KJB)
And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:

Jesus did not only travel with His disciples but He also had many women in the company to help out. They had to stand away at a distance from the cross probably for their own protection. They were now witnesses of the fact that Jesus really died on the cross as they saw the spear pierce Him and heard Him give up the Ghost as He commended His spirit into the hands of His Father. (Luke 23:46 KJV) And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. They would also help in preparing the body for burial the best they could with the little time they had before sundown and the approaching Sabbath and Passover when they could do no work.