John tells us that after Jesus surprised His frightened disciples, He breathed on them. That is what living people do. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. But Jesus didn’t just inhale and exhale. He purposely breathed new atoms from resurrected lungs into them. Heaven on earth, in earth, with earth. They smelled His breath. Coffee? Wine? Myrrh? Or the smell of a newborn babe sighing on your cheek. HIs breath made the whole room alive.
But more than that, He filled them with the Holy Spirit and sent them to… breathe on others. He tells them that when they forgive someone’s sins, they ARE forgiven. Period. Mouth to mouth resuscitation, but better. No more shame, guilt, secrets, trepidation, worry, or fear.
God’s breath gives life. We are all born dying. We are born DOA in a sense. Dead in sin. Dead in the body, as we all learn as we get older. We are dying. We need more than just mouth to mouth resuscitation. We need breath that gives us eternal life! God’s breath forgives everything, releases us from the eternal consequence for our sins and gives us eternal breath that we will breathe forever.
Jesus’ warm breath gives life, a new outlook on the future, peace, and hope. Jesus’ breath changes everything. But unless you were one of those 500 so-and-sos who got to inhale His breath, you might think you missed the party. But you didn’t. Jesus breathes into His Church and sends them out to exhale on others. There is no difference. When you are breathed on by that fumbling middle-aged man in the pulpit, you receive Jesus’ breath. When you do your best to explain what the cross means to your co-worker who isn’t so sure about any of this, Jesus is speaking, breathing, giving life.
Sorry, no hocus pocus. No ceremony or cosplaying religiosity needed. Jesus speaks through ordinary folks. It works. He says so. He rose, after all. Just like He said, too.
Through His church, pastor and people, Jesus breathes on people who have closed themselves off from God. He breathes on people who have given up on life. He breathes on people who hide in the dark rooms of their fears and failures. He breathes on the dying inside and out. He breathes on them through you! Even with our coffee breath and fumbling words, His Church, His breathed on people, have been made alive to breathe this same hope into others.
Just as He got around the disciples defenses and stood right with them, close enough for them to feel His breath, we are called to hang out with others, in their situation. To walk with them in their struggles, and to breathe on them, speaking His words of forgiveness and hope. It’s not just a one time event, but continuous.
The world pretends it’s full of life. Our canary tells us something different. Breathe on us, dear Jesus, every 8th day.