And when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' you shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of the LORD's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'"And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 12:26-27
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. John 20:19
In our youth we learn attitudes and behaviors through being taught as well as by observing how people relate to us and with one another. Our parents both instructed us as well as modeled (hopefully) the type of behavior that they wished to instill into us and into our lives at an early age.
Sometimes we continue to do things without ever coming to understand why we do it. And because we do know the reason for its use, we tend to discount and disvalue that custom, tradition or practice. The Lord recognized the tendency of this happening in the life of his people and so he instructed them to be ready to provide the answer to the young ones when they asked why they do the rituals that they do in their worship of the Lord. The observance of the Passover pointed to the physical deliverance of their nation by the Lord from the slavery that they had been under in Egypt.
At times I am asked a similar question by people who are not familiar with a long term custom that has been handed down over the years in the Apostolic Lutheran Church wherein there is the handshake with the greeting of God's Peace. In response to this question, I usually point to the greeting that Jesus gave to his disciples after he had risen from the dead, appearing before them who were huddled behind closed doors in fear that perhaps they would be put to death next. They were afraid.... But our Lord greeted them with these words: "Peace be unto you."
I go on to explain that because Jesus suffered our death, was buried and arose on the third day on Easter morning, that God was now at peace with humankind and Jesus desired the disciples to be the first recipients of this informative, graceful and performative greeting. Jesus was informing them that they had no reason to fear their God, for His wrath against sin was appeased in Himself (in Christ), God was at peace with them and now looked upon all mankind through the merits of His Son Jesus.
They now were recipients of the peace of God through the merits of Christ by grace through faith. And now being partakers and possessors of His peace, they were then given the empowerment of the Holy Spirit so that by the mercies of God they presented their bodies as a living sacrifice in order to extend this peace unto others who yet were in ignorance of the peace that Christ had brought to all of mankind.
Let us be reminded that in the simple greeting of God’s Peace, three things need to be kept in mind.
Jesus Christ is the One who is Peace and through His death, resurrection and ascension, He has secured peace for all mankind.
Through repentance and faith, we receive His peace and are infilled with His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
Because we possess the peace of God, within us wells a deep desire to pass this amazing peace of God to others around us.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
God's Peace to you today! May those words which are grounded in the grace of God through Jesus the Christ and which come from the heart of our Father God speak peace into your heart and soul today.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala