But when his audience heard Paul talk about the resurrection from the dead some of them laughed outright, but others said, “We should like to hear you speak again on this subject.” So with this mixed reception Paul retired from their assembly. Yet some did in fact join him and accept the faith, including Dionysius a member of the Areopagus, a woman by the name of Damaris, and some others as well. (PHILLIPS)
Christians can and do disagree on a number of things. Honest Christians also admit to some ambiguities in their beliefs, some uncertainty as to whether some parts of the Bible should be taken as factual events or metaphorical reflections.
But when it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, sober historical narratives written in the lifetime of hostile eye witnesses assure us that it literally happened. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, he was merely a misguided martyr. There would be no victory over sin and death.
So, it is no surprise that Paul affirms the resurrection when he spoke to the intellectually sophisticated Athenians. It is also no surprise that some of them mocked him by laughing at the absurdity of it. This is what happens to any of us who assume we live in a closed universe with no possibility of interruptions to what we believe to be natural laws.
But it seems Paul’s talk of the resurrection stirred up some curiosity too. Honest seekers after truth will no want to merely dismiss something they don’t understand: they will want to explore things further. And it is no laughing matter. If Jesus stayed dead, our faith is dead because it is deluded. If Jesus rose from the dead, our faith lives on because it is based not just on felt experience or deep need. It is based on a well attested historical event.