On Palm Sunday we read this passage in Church;
Luke 23:44-46 (NASB)
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour,
45 because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." Having said this, He breathed His last.
I was stirred to research 'breath'. Out of a treasure of insight, these thoughts stand out.
Genesis 2:7 (MSG)
GOD formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!
The 'breath of life'. What a interesting distinction from the rest of creation. When God breathed into us, we became not just alive, but also a living soul. When man is shaped and formed he has the breath of life breathed into him and it animates humans in a way that no other creature shares.
But this mention of breath is not the first appearance.
Genesis 1:1-2 (NASB)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit (ruach) of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Did you know what the Hebrew word (ruach) for 'Spirit' means? breath, wind, spirit: (New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). The breath of God moved over the surface. Like oxygen is to fire, so the breath of life was to creation.
“Breath is used in the Bible as a powerful symbol of the life-giving presence of God. Like God Himself, the air we breathe is invisible, odourless and tasteless—it cannot be perceived at all unless it moves. It is usually peaceful and still, but it is a reservoir of enormous power. The air is a massive ocean—invisible, yet completely necessary for our life, for we are quickly dead without it. It seems reasonable to suggest that one reason God created the air—and respiration—was to show us graphically how great and immediate is our need for Him.”
That very picture is described by Jesus to Nicodemus;
John 3:5, 8 (MSG)
Jesus said, "You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it's not possible to enter God's kingdom.
...You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God."
While Scripture says life is in the blood, it is because blood depends on the injection of oxygen from our lungs. Someone has said, “Water (H2O), the liquid of life contains oxygen. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the metabolism of life contains oxygen. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, the food of life contains oxygen.” Oxygen permeates every element of our being. We were also created to have the breath of life permeate every part of our being. A outside, invisible source that sustains us. Just as our physical life depends on breathing oxygen, so our soul depends on the breath of God. You might say man cannot live on oxygen alone.
Just as a runner pants for air, the exertion of life also causes us to pant for God. Eastern mystics teach meditation upon one’s breath as a way of controlling body functions and gaining inner peace. As Christians we can also benefit from meditating upon the breath of life, a powerful biblical metaphor used to speak of His very presence. Psalm 150:6 (NASB)
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
Just as the air we breath serves a dual purpose enabling us to speak, the breath of life speaks out the living Word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 (MSG)
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way.
We don't have time to go into it, but what a picture of God speaking creation into existence, and the power of our words.
The significance of this Easter day and the breath of life was prophesied to us;
Ezekiel 37:1-5 (MSG)
GOD grabbed me. GOD's Spirit took me up and sat me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun. He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "Master GOD, only you know that."
He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of GOD!' " GOD, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life.
What died in the fall was the breath of life God breathed into man. Which is why this event after the Resurrection has such great importance;
John 20:22 (MSG)
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said.
The restoration of the breath of life.