19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:19-23)
In John 20 the newly resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples. Jesus’ activity among them not only includes blessing them and allowing them to examine his wounds, but also breathing on them. Now I can honestly admit that I have never been in a situation where someone
was breathing on me and I considered it a good thing. But here in John 20 we can imagine that John is looking back to texts in the Hebrew scriptures. Texts like Genesis 2 where God breathes life into Adam in preparation for his mission to be a caretaker of all of God’s creation. Or texts like Ezekiel 37:10 where the valley of dry bones regain life through the breath of God and turn into a army of living people. The image of Jesus breathing on his disciples is an image of God new creative action in the world. Here again God is bringing new life into a people to prepare them for his mission.
When has God breathed new life into you? What mission was God’s breath meant to empower you for?
Here is John 20 Jesus’ breathes on his disciples in order to empower them for their mission to bring God’s forgiveness to the world. Have you ever had to mediate a relationship that had gone sour. Have you ever had to be the go between for two parties to be reconciled. Well here God is sending His disciples and us on a mission to relay to the world that He wants them to come home to Him.