“And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” - John 20:22
Today is New Year’s Eve - it marks the end of one and the beginning of another, calendar year. I think we’re all in agreement, hoping that the coming year is better than the last. I’d say “it can’t be worse” - but I don’t intend to put God to the test!
Endings and beginnings are big, significant and often challenging times. Stepping into the unknown of a new job, a new home, a new relationship - even a new phone - can be exciting and scary all at once. Even when you’re glad to get rid of the old, you’re still not completely sure of what you’re getting in the new… until you get there.
The most significant transition in all of human history, happened over two thousand years ago, on a wooden cross on the Hill of the Skull in Jerusalem. The Promised One, the Son of God, the God-With-Us, unjustly hung there, transitioning from life to death. Both Mark and Luke’s gospel accounts of this event include that Jesus “breathed his last.”
It’s actually the only time in either gospel that the word “breathe” shows up. Surprising, I know. Every person breathes 22,000 times each day - it’s so second-nature that we only think of it when we’re having difficulty. When you’re stuffed up, when the air is thick with smoke, when you’ve run too far and can’t catch your breath, when some disease or virus attacks your lungs…
The gospel of John, always the outlier, mentions “breathe” just once as well, but in a much different circumstance. Before Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion, John shares about the Upper Room meal shared with his disciples. Much of Jesus’ teaching happens at that table, and one very significant event, Jesus “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
On the verge of a significant transition, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit - the spirit of God, the spirit of life, the spirit of peace, the spirit of comfort, the Spirit that hovered over the waters of creation and contained all the power and majesty of the God of the Universe… Jesus breathes on his disciples as they are unknowingly about to transition into a new world and a new way of living.
On this day of transition, with a new world… or at least a new calendar before us - take a moment to breathe, and receive the Holy Spirit that God has gifted to you. Receive the peace, the comfort, the creative energy, the life that God offers - the only real life there is. It is there, God is there for you, right know.
May you breathe, and receive, may you Grow in Jesus,