When They Heard of the Resurrection
Introduction: To bring you up to speed, the Apostle Paul was trying to avoid this crowd of antagonistic persecutors. The men in the church at Berea loaded Paul and sent him to Athens to wait for the rest of his team, Silas and Timothy.
In this passage, the central theme is the preaching of the resurrection. It comes up several times in this story.
A. Provoked by their Idolatry – vs. 17 “…he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”
While Paul was waiting for them, he began to look around.
What he saw burdened and broke his heart.
The Bible says his spirit was stirred within him.
He was motivated; stirred; provoked by the rampant idolatry.
The Bible says the city was “wholly given” to idolatry.
What happened next is what happens when a God-called preacher goes stir crazy!
The Bible says he “disputed” with them daily.
He went into the synagogues and in the market.
Paul preached unto them Jesus according to vs. 18.
B. Persuaded by their Intrigue – vs. 18-20 “…we would know what these things mean.”
They were intrigued by the novelty of his message. It was new. It was strange. It was fascinating.
The Bible says that these people “encountered” him.
That word means: to come together to converse
- Verse 18 – “What will this babbler say…?”
BABBLER: lounging about the marketplace and picking up a substance by whatever may chance to fall from the loads of merchandise; a beggar; a parasite
They looked at Paul like he was a beggar looking for crumbs.
What they didn’t know was they were the beggars.
He didn’t need what they had; they needed what he had!
Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
- Verse 19 – “…they took him and brought him saying, May we know…?”
- Acts 17:20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
C. Prompted by their Ignorance – vs. 23 “…Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”
There’s nothing that creates a greater burden in the heart of a true man of God than ignorant worship.
Jesus addressed that very thing with the woman at the well in John 4.
- John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
The Apostle Paul saw an opportunity to educate these people on the “unknown God” they had built an altar to.
NOTE: They were not true worshippers, because:
- 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
- 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
So, Paul preached – starting in verse 24 through 31.
His message dealt with Bible doctrines such as:
1. Creation – vs. 24, 25
2. God’s Omnipresence – vs. 24b
3. A knowledge of God – vs. 27
4. Made in the image of God – vs. 28, 29
5. Repentance – vs. 30
6. Judgment – vs. 31
7. Jesus Christ – vs. 31
8. Resurrection – vs. 31
I find it fascinating that they had no real response to anything he said until he got to the resurrection.
They didn’t seem interested or put off by Paul’s claim that the Unknown God” was the creator of all things.
They didn’t seem to have a problem with His omnipresence.
They didn’t care about God’s unique requirement for worship in verse 25.
They didn’t have a problem with repentance or judgment.
It was the message of the resurrection that brought about the greatest response.
More specifically, the resurrection of the dead.
When Paul preached the resurrection of the dead, it resulted in three distinct responses.
There were three kinds of responses to the message on Mar’s Hill.
And those same three responses are people’s reaction to the gospel message even today.
I. A Rude Dismissal
Several things about these mockers that I’d like to point out.
A. The Insensitivity of their Mocking
Here is a group of people that is mocking Paul’s message of the resurrection.
They had no idea who they were talking to!
If they had any idea what Paul had been before he got saved, they wouldn’t have been mocking.
Here was a man that had terrorized the Christians.
He had arrested men and women; wrecking havoc in the church.
He had done everything within his power to shut down the work of God.
Now, he’s standing in a strange place in a foreign country boldly disputing and preaching.
And they had the audacity to mock him?
B. The Insanity of their Mocking
According to verse 21, they’d been devoted and worshipping an altar to THE UNKNOWN GOD.
A man shows up out of nowhere and tells you more about him, and your first response is to mock him?
You worshipped a vague, abstract, unknown, unreal, impersonal, impotent piece of stone.
He tells you that this God loves you, died for you and raised himself from the dead, and you mock him??
NOTE: They were like people today – more comfortable with their superstitions than with the Scriptures.
People today don’t want you to interfere with their devotion to superstition and ignorance by giving them facts!
II. A Reluctant Disinterest
That’s the crowd that says, “Thanks but no thanks.”
This is the crowd that comes at Easter, listens to the choir and the preaching, and walks out lost.
That is the crowd that says, “Not right now. I’ll think about it and maybe talk later.”
They were disinterested, but they needed to hear more.
They were interested, but not enough to ask questions right then.
They knew there was something to it, but it wasn’t important enough.
The problem with this crowd was they gambled; made assumptions:
A. They assumed they would have another opportunity.
They assumed they would live long enough to hear the message again.
They assumed they would be around awhile longer.
- James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Jesus told of the man that lived like he would live forever.
- 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
- 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
- 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
You are not guaranteed another opportunity to hear the message!
Don’t squander the opportunity God has given you today!
B. They assumed God would send that preacher back a second time.
Do you realize that Paul was the first person they met that knew about that UNKNOWN GOD?
They failed to recognize just how blessed they were to have Paul show up and tell them the truth in the first place.
Do you realize that they left, assuming that they would be blessed enough to have 2 visits by that preacher?
How many people reject Christ because they assume that God will be merciful to give them another chance?
III. A Receptive Devotion
There will always be a crowd that will be RUDE and mock the preaching.
There will always be a crowd that is RELUCTANT and procrastinate.
But thank God for that crowd that will listen and be RECEPTIVE!!
The Bible says in verse 34 that certain men believed!
Oh! The power of faith in the preached word of God!
Oh! The power of believing in the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Oh! The power of being receptive to the glorious gospel!
And notice their reaction – they clave unto Paul.
There’s something about Christians – you know it’s real when the believers become cleavers!!
I find it interesting that there were two different attitudes toward the Apostle Paul.
One crowd was willing to walk away and assume that Paul would return to elaborate on his message.
The ones that believed clave unto him – they didn’t want him to leave.
One group didn’t care if he left; the other group didn’t want him to. They clave unto him!
Isn’t it amazing the relationship that people develop with God’s man immediately after they get saved?
God will give you a love for the truth, and a love for others that love the truth.
What will be your response WHEN YOU HEAR OF THE RESURRECTION?
Will you mock and laugh and make fun?
Will you walk away without fully accepting the magnitude of the message?
Will you leave this morning, planning to come back next Easter and hear me preach about it again?
Or – will you believe, and let God transform your life?
SEE – if Satan can convince people that there is no life beyond the grave, he’s got them!
No accountability, no judgment, no reckoning, no penalty or punishment for sin.
Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible has this question:
- Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again?
The Apostle Paul made it clear in verse 31 – God has appointed Jesus to judge the world.
And you and I have an appointment at that judgement!
- Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
What is your response to the resurrection this morning?