“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this [matter]." So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed …” Acts 17:32-34a
Approximately twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus, Paul is preaching in Athens to a gathering of the cultural elite of his day. Those who gathered there were the philosophers and educators, the business and civic leaders, and the theologians of the city, as well as the everyday people who worked and shopped in the marketplace. Once they hear about the resurrection, there was a threefold response.
That same response happens today, approximately 1986 years after the resurrection of Jesus. In Paul’s day as in ours, the response is still the same. First, “some mocked”. There will always be mockers. Even as Jesus was dying on the cross, the cultural elite in Jerusalem mocked Him. The NLT states: “some laughed in contempt”. Contempt is a good word for the way many view Christianity today.
The second response is also true: “other said, ‘We will hear you again.’” These are the people who are searching for truth. They are the ones we would call “seekers.” These are the people who need more time to think and reflect on what they heard, more time to study and find out more information, and more time to understand. We live in a time, as in Athens, where the idea of a resurrection is not a common belief.
The third response is that “some men joined him and believed.” They heard the message of the resurrection and they believed. Not only did they believe, but they became followers or disciples of Paul, who ultimately pointed them to Christ. From this setting, the church in Athens is birthed.
As we come together to worship this Easter season, we need to understand that the culture of Paul’s day is no different from the culture of our day. When we tell others about the risen Savior, the same three responses happen today. In fact, people will respond in one of these three ways every time they hear the message of salvation.
The question for you and me as believers is this: how do people respond to our testimony and witness? Do they mock? Guess what? Many believers will tell you they made fun of Christians before they became believers themselves. Do they need to hear more? Be patient and willing to meet with them again, and continue to pray for them. And finally, do they believe? Help them to know they need to join a church where they can grow in their new found faith in Christ.
It is my prayer that we can be a church that is mocked and made fun of because of the resurrection. That we are a church were people who are seeking answers can come and learn about Christ. And, I pray we are a church where believers can become followers and disciples of Jesus.
I love you and it’s a privilege to be your pastor,