Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church
“Peace be with you”?
sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 8 April 2018, Second Sunday of Easter, by Justine Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm
“May the peace of the Lord be with you.” *We greet each
other with this phrase on Sunday, usually not so early, maybe after the sermon
and prayer. Have you ever wondered, why don’t we say something else like “May
good health be with you”, or “May good fortune be with you”? Why do we “pass
the peace”? What’s so special about peace?
In the gospel reading today, we know that after Jesus
resurrected from death, He appeared among the disciples. What is His opening
line? Jesus greets them and says “Peace be with you.” He actually said this
three times in this passage. Today we are going to learn why this is so
important, so important that when we greet one another, we follow Jesus’
example. Let’s look first at verse
20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors
of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the
Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be
The doors were locked, because the disciples were afraid
of the Jews. They were scared. Let’s imagine we were the disciples. The teacher
and leader we’ve been following for three years was arrested, persecuted and
crucified on the cross. Even our stronger disciple Peter has denied Jesus three
times. Of course we’re afraid! Our teacher is dead now! And this morning, they
said the body of Jesus was gone! We’re afraid of the Jews, because they may come
and blame us for stealing the body, then persecute and kill us!
If we put ourselves in their shoes, it actually makes a
lot of sense. The disciples were trying to hide and keep the door locked, so
the Jews can’t find them.
And In their fear, something dramatic happened. Even the
doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. This is impossible! It’s a
miracle, not only because Jesus came through the locked door, He is alive!
Jesus showed up when they were most fearful and confused. Jesus knew their
hearts, so he said “Peace be with you.” What a great comfort to the disciples.
They knew this is their teacher Jesus, because not too long ago, Jesus told
them that He is giving them peace. In John 14:27 he said:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not
give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not
let them be afraid.”
Jesus has conquered death and resurrected! He is risen!
We don’t need to be afraid of what the world will do to us, because Jesus is
more powerful than the world. He is leaving His peace for us, and said to us
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Do you have something that’s troubling
your hearts now? Are you afraid of something? Jesus knows our hearts, just as
He knew what the disciples were facing. He is offering His peace to you and me
in our fear.
20 After he said this,
he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced
when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22 When
he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the
After the disciples saw Jesus and His broken body, they
rejoiced. Jesus said to them the second
time “Peace be with you.” Why? Because Jesus is going to entrust them with a
mission, sending them out to be His witness. Jesus is not asking the disciples
to go alone. He offered them His peace, and gave them the Holy Spirit. This was
a powerful and affirming moment.
However, someone is missing out this big event. Thomas.
He wasn’t there to meet the resurrected Jesus. So when other disciples told him
about this encounter, Thomas didn’t believe it. He even said, "Unless I
see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the
nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
So a week later, when Thomas was still in doubt, Jesus
appeared again. Guess what was His opening greeting? “Peace be with you.”! Yes,
this is the third time Jesus offered
His peace. He passed the peace to the disciples when they were in fear, in
preparation for a mission, and even in doubt. Similarly, in different
situations and difficulties we are facing, Jesus offers His peace to us. Peace
is a great gift from God, and it comes with a calling. We are asked to be a
witness for Christ, and to share this peace to one another.
Can you feel His peace in your heart? Or is your heart
still troubled? Indeed, sometimes our heart would still be troubled. Why? Is
Jesus’s peace not as powerful as He claims it to be? Or is there something
wrong with us? Let’s go back to Thomas, and see how his doubt was transformed.
27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see
my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but
28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you
have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to
What’s the keyword here? Can you see it? It is “believe”.
Believe is the key to fully experiencing Jesus’ peace. Thomas was doubtful
and unbelieving, but Jesus did not rebuke him. It’s OK to be in doubt
sometimes. Jesus gave room for Thomas to see and to believe.
He knows some of us may take a longer time to believe in Him, and He is patient
with us. Sometimes God would reveal himself to us according to our needs, and
we need to be patient and wait for His timing. Are you making room and
expecting God to show up in your life? Are you prepared to see, and to believe?
Verse 31 points us to the focus of what should we believe in:
31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you
may have life in his name.
We need to believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,
who is in control of the world. He is the source of all things, and the center
of all lives. Only when we acknowledge God is in control in the midst of our
problems, we can have true peace. We’re not fighting on our own, but we let God
take control. At the same time, we are willing to let Him mold us and transform
But the story doesn’t end here. Do you think the
disciples really believed in Jesus? They were so fearful and doubtful, can they
really sustain and demonstrate the peace that Jesus is giving them? Can they
carry out their calling from Jesus? In our reading from Acts today, it said:
4:32-33- 32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of
one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions,
but everything they owned was held in common.
33 With great power the apostles
gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great
grace was upon them all.
This group of believers were boldly proclaiming Jesus,
and fully living out their calling. They were no longer hiding. Their lives
were transformed. They were living a new way, sharing possessions and starting
the early church community. This is the beautiful picture described in Psalm
133: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
What was different since that time they were fearful?
Their fear and doubt have now turned into peace and power, because they believe
in Jesus, who is the Messiah and the Son of God.
Sisters and brothers, our God is truly powerful and can
turn things upside down. Are we believing in this same powerful God, or do we
tend to put God in a box, not truly believing that He can deliver and transform
us? Do you believe that Jesus can offer you peace, in all situations?
Having “Peace” doesn’t mean that everything is smooth
with us. No. Having “peace” means your heart is not troubled, even when you are
in difficulties. And if you believe in Jesus, and live out the peace in you,
you may be able to bring an impact to the gloomy situation you are in. The
process may still be painful, and you may need to give up part of yourself. Are
we ready to be transformed by God, even in our hard times?
Let me conclude with a story. A daughter complains to her
father that life is too miserable, and she is full of fear and doubt, like the
disciples. She is tired of fighting all the time. It seems like as one problem
is solved, another follows. What is the meaning of life?
So her father, who is a cook, brings her to the kitchen.
He takes some potatoes, eggs and coffee beans. He then boil three large pots of
water, and puts the three items in each pot. After a while, he puts the
potatoes in one bowl, the eggs in another and pours the coffee into a cup.
“What do you see?” he asks. Potatoes, eggs and
coffee,” she says.
He asks her to touch the
potatoes. They are soft. He asks her to break the shell on one of the eggs. The
egg inside is hard. Finally, he asks her to smell the coffee. It’s a nice
coffee smell. “What does it mean?” she asks.
Her father explains that the potatoes, eggs and coffee
beans all faced the same adversity, but each reacted differently. The potatoes
went in strong, but came out soft. A thin shell protected the liquid interior
of the egg, but once it’s cooked, the inside of the egg became hard. The coffee
beans were different. When they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed
the water and created something new.
“Which are you?” he asks
his daughter. This is also my question for you.
It’s true that adversity or difficulty happens to us and
around us. It’s how we react and adapt to it that can make a difference. We can
rely on ourselves when we face a problem, just like the potato and the egg, it
changes itself, maybe from hard to soft, or soft to hard. But the change is
only within itself, and it cannot influence the surrounding.
The coffee bean is different. Apart from changing itself,
it also transforms the water into coffee. Just like the disciples, who received
the peace from Jesus, not only changing themselves from fearful to faithful,
but also leading a new way of living – building a community with unity, and
professing Jesus with power.
The song we sung last week serves as a nice closing
reminder for us:
He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear
Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives”
Jesus lives and brings us peace. Peace is a gift, and we
receive it with a calling. We are called to profess our faith, and to pass the
peace to others.
“May the peace of the Lord be with you.” And may we
believe this peace that Jesus offered us from the bottom of our hearts, so we
can live out the true essence of this greeting, and share it with one another.
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