Breath: A Resurrection Reflection

April 2, 2024 | Jaci Miller

From deep below the surface of the pool, I stroked upward. My empty lungs craved air as I pulled at the water. Then, at the critical moment, a friend floating above me stepped on my shoulder and shoved me down. Deep in the water and deep inside, fear flooded me and I flailed my arms and legs, aching for breath. Finally, I broached the surface and inhaled, gasping. Furious at my laughing “friend,” I could only gulp air and glower at him. 

Breath has always been fundamental to human existence. We can last weeks or months without food, days without water, but only a few moments without air. Man’s very first act was to breathe. Genesis 2:7 says that after God breathed into Adam, he became a living being. That first puff of air from the Lord created in Adam the need to inhale and begin life.

As Abraham was dying, Scripture records that he breathed his last. The same happened for Ishmael, Rachel, Isaac, and Jacob. And in Mark 15:7, Jesus also breathed his last. Scripture didn’t record merely that they died, but that they experienced a final breath.

Breath has Scriptural relevance.

As you read earlier, God’s first interaction with a human in Genesis 2 was to breathe into him. This encounter gave him physical life. But God had further plans for this symbol of life.

In John 20:22, immediately after Jesus rose from the dead, His first interaction with the group of disciples involved breathing on them. To receive the Holy Spirit.

A “dead” man breathing—and breathing on them!—right in front of the disciples. A complete paradox. Symbolic of giving life, confirmation of having received life. Proof of mastering life’s opposite—death.

This full-circle approach reflected the first breath-giving in Genesis. The start of God’s plan for humanity became fulfilled through Christ when humankind received a second dose of heavenly breath.

Just as God gave physical life to Adam, Jesus breathed spiritual life onto the disciples. He was given the Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove) at His baptism and was sharing the Spirit with His followers using the same method His heavenly father did. Breathing.

The ramifications of receiving the Holy Spirit? Multiple. The fruit of the Spirit would make the faith of believers desirable to others. The spiritual gifts associated with the Holy Spirit would build up the budding church and help it spread. The comfort of the Holy Spirit would bolster the believers for the challenging moments ahead.

As Jesus prepared to send His followers in spreading the Gospel, He breathed on them as a promise that they would receive God’s Spirit at Pentecost and go, empowered by this Spirit, into the world.

The story started with God’s breath. It continued with Jesus’ dying breath. A new beginning, and a new Church, arose with Jesus’ shared breath.

I discovered in that pool that life ends without breath. And without the breath of God, the Gospel might have died as well. With one simple exhale, Jesus began His Church.

As you breathe in and out, consider what Christ wants to begin in you.