John 19:1-20:31

There is a key verse, full of intense theological meaning, nestled in the middle of chapter twenty. This verse is usually overshadowed by its parallel account reported to us by Luke in Acts. Read John 20:22. Here we see Jesus breathing on the disciples so that they will receive the Holy Spirit. At first glance this seems very strange, but upon further investigation this event proves to be the finale in John’s theological presentation of Jesus. In John 1, Jesus is presented as the Word, the Logos that becomes flesh and shines the light of God to the dark world. Throughout his Gospel, John presents Jesus as the Bread of Life, the Light of World, the Living Water, the Resurrection, the Good Shepherd, and The Only Way to the Father. Here in v. 22, John presents Jesus as the culmination and combination of all those things. The word “breathed” is the Greek word emphusao from which we get the word emphysema. It means to breathe, duh. But it is not just any breath that He breathed. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) this is the word used when God breathed life into the nostrils of the lump of clay that would become Adam. It is the breath of creation in Psalm 104:29-30. It is the breath of reanimation in Ezekiel 37:5,14. When Jesus breathed on the disciples He was demonstrating that He is the creator, the giver of life, and that He, in that moment, was recreating the Kingdom of God on Earth in the hearts of His disciples. The Holy Spirit was the presence and the power of the Kingdom. The Spirit is the breath of God, the life-giving power of God in the heart of the disciple. Jesus, through His death and resurrection re-created the world and has breathed it into His followers. We, too, carry this Kingdom within us and are called to breathe the Kingdom into the world with every breath.

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