Breathing is important to living. We need air in our lungs to live. When we breathe in, we bring in the much needed oxygen into our lungs which then transfers it to our blood cells and brings it to our brains to function effectively. Lack of oxygen leads to faulty functioning and even to the extreme brain damage.
Last week Monday I went in to the ER for pneumonia. I had a hard time breathing. My lungs crackled when I breathed. I was placed on oxygen to help me. I was a bit disorientated at times. My lungs weren’t functioning correctly. And even though the crud is out of my lungs, I’m still wiped. I can’t exert myself too much otherwise I run out of breath.
We need to breathe. We need the breath of life.
The breath of life was give at creation. In Genesis 2, after God formed man from the dirt and named him Adam, He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils. And so Adam came alive. The word used here for breath is ruhah. It’s a Hebrew word that means breath, wind, but it also means spirit and is used to describe the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.
In Genesis 1:2 we read that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. The same word is used here, ruhah. The breath of God is His Spirit which gives us life and sustains us. The Spirit of God came a number of times upon His people in the Old Testament. God’s Spirit came and went, filled people with power, strength, knowledge, wisdom, and then left again.
Yet on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came in His fullness and completeness. The word in Greek here is pneuma, it too means breath, wind, and is used for the Holy Spirit. In fact, pneuma is where we get pneumonia from. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, came upon the followers of Jesus and filled them.
Ten days prior to this, Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus, fully human, fully divine is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. A bit of earth is now in heaven. And God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, the breath of heaven is on earth.
The Holy Spirit is He. And He is personal. He gives us life. Real life. Real spiritual life. Without the Holy Spirit within us, we aren’t really alive. We’re moving. We doing stuff. But we’re not truly living.
In order to truly live, in order to truly have the breath of life in us, we must be born again, born spiritually, born into a new life.
Jesus is asked by the Pharisee Nicodemus about entering the kingdom of God. Jesus says he must be born again, born into the Spirit. Jesus tells him
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit…The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:6,8
It is the Holy Spirit, He who fills us, gives us life, makes us truly living, that allows us to have the breath of life within us.
When God made humanity, he gave us the breath of life into our lungs, and when Jesus came, died, rose again, and ascended to heaven, God once again gave us the breath of life, true spiritual life, life in Jesus.
Though I struggle now with recovering from pneumonia, I know each breath I take is precious. Each breath I take is important. Each breath I take fuels me. More than that though, I know that as a follower of Jesus, I have the Holy Spirit in me, filling me, giving me true life, life in abundance.
And so I breathe deeply the Spirit of life, the breath of heaven. I breathe deeply the Holy Spirit, knowing He is personal, with me, guiding me, directing me, comforting me, giving me life. I live not by oxygen alone, but by the very breath of God, being fed by His word, being carried by my savior, and given life by His Spirit.
Breathe in the breath of life, the breath of heaven. Breathe deeply and be filled and live not with oxygen, but with the breath of life, the Holy Spirit.