Dear Church Family:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
In this scripture passage, the risen Christ suddenly appears to His disciples. They are huddled in hiding behind locked doors because of the threats from the Jewish leaders. They are still alive…sort of…kind of…maybe. The abc’s of survival are there in place, but not much else. A spiritual hypoxia has settled in as they choke on their own fetid fumes of fear. Paralyzed by threats from without and insecurities from within they are in desperate need of healing attention. Thankfully, the doctor has arrived.
The scripture text simply says, Jesus breathed on them. He will become for them their spiritual respirator. Jesus breathed on them. The words take us back to the moment of creation itself. In Genesis, God breathed into the nostrils of humanity his very own breath of life. God’s energizing breath mixes and mingles with the dust of the ground and out comes a living soul. There is this paradox that is at the heart of what it means to be a human person. We come from the dust. We are fragile. We are vulnerable. Little things can so easily set us off. Yet at the same time we have been breathed into by the God of all creation.
Now the reviving life of God is breathed out through Jesus, creating new men out of these disciples with feet of clay. Empowered by the breath of the Spirit, they will become ministers of God’s new creation. They will pass on the peace that Jesus has given them. They will become the channel through which God will bring new life and forgiveness of sins to the world.
As we approach this Pentecost Sunday, may we pray for a fresh wind of the Spirit to blow on our lives. May we breathe out the oxide of our fears and anxieties. May we breathe in the life of his love and grace. May the lyrics of this hymn be our prayer today!
“Breathe on me Breath of God, Fill me with life anew
That I may love the way you love, and do what you would do”