Matthew 27:50-52 (HCSB)

Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

     If you fall asleep you are going to wake up again.  Matthew here [and the NT writers in general] use the term “fall asleep” for those Christians who have died.  This is not an accident.  The assumption is that they were going to wake up.  It demonstrates the hope of the resurrection that the early church held.
     Some examples:
Acts 13:36 (HCSB)
For David, after serving his own generation in God’s plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed.
1 Corinthians 15:6
Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:18-19 (HCSB)
Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 (HCSB)
Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

     May we have the same confidence in the resurrection that our brothers and sisters from the 1st century had.
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