Today marks the first Sunday for the new year. And on behalf of the Church Council, may I wish all of you, a “Blessed New Year”.
We have a greeting “Peace be with you”, prominently printed on the wall of the side entrance of our sanctuary hall. This phrase is taken from John 20: 19 & 21, wherein the Lord Jesus Christ used it in his conversation, when he appeared to His disciples, after His resurrection. It was a standard Hebrew greeting (Judges 6:23; 1 Sam 25:6; 3 John 1:15), still used in the Middle East today. But these words are far more than a greeting. At a
profoundly personal level, Jesus is summing up the essence of his work and presence in the world.
It’s our prayer that perhaps whenever we come to our Lord’s day on Sunday or whenever we have the opportunity to read the phrase, “Peace be with you”, we want to know the reason(s) as to why Jesus said these words in John 20. A parallel passage in Luke 24:33-43, also describes how the followers of Jesus remained in Jerusalem and did not return immediately to Galilee. Jesus appeared to them unexpectedly; they were frightened, and their doubts only disappeared when Jesus provided evidence to them by displaying his wounds and eating a meal.
In John 20, the writer builds the same scene but with important differences. It is in the evening of that Easter Sunday (John 20:19) and the doors were shut (ESV – the doors being locked). Fear has gripped their hearts and they were worried that the tragic fate of their Lord Jesus may soon be theirs. The temple authorities (the Jews) will find them and arrest them too. But instead Jesus comes to them and stands in their midst and said to them twice, “Peace be with you”.
The disciples’ response (John 20:20) to Jesus’ appearance, after they see the evidence of His wounds, is likewise a fulfilment of what was promised. “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy… Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take you’re your joy” (John 16: 20-22). Once they see Jesus in the room, the disciples were filled with joy.
Some of us may have experienced severe “Ups and Downs” in 2015. What are thoughts in our minds as we start the year 2016. From the accounts of the gospels, the disciples of Jesus, went through a tumultuous time. There were high points of confidence in their ministry but yet there were moments of deep fear of uncertainties and extreme challenges. At last Watchnight Service, we were encouraged through Luke 21:34-36, to stay awake and watch for ourselves, the second advent (coming) of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The comforting words of our Lord Jesus Christ’s “Peace be with you” to His disciples, will be for us as well, as we journey into the new year. Stay away from “dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life. Stay close with God and walk with the Lord daily and closely (reading of His Word and prayer will help us to know God). There will be trials but these will all be turned into joy! Lastly, from John 20, we could see that after seeing the Lord Jesus resurrection and affirming the fulfilment of what was promised, the disciples went on to build the early church in ways beyond human imagination. Peace be with you!
Elder Andrew Lim