"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.""
"Receive the Holy Spirit.""
Every one of us must breathe every day. In fact, we must breathe every moment of every day. We don't get to save up breaths for later on. If you don't like the smell of the atmosphere you are in, you can't decide not to breathe and catch up on your breaths later on. Every moment of every day, no matter where you are and what is around you, you must breathe. Of course I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. However, what we don't always remember is that there is a spiritual atmosphere around us all the time just like there is a physical, oxygen-filled atmosphere.
What kind of spiritual atmospheres do you go through during the day? When you wake up in the morning is the atmosphere of your home a God-filled one where you are able to breathe in the breath of the Holy Spirit? When you go to work or school or wherever your day takes you, do you spend a good chunk of your day in an atmosphere where others are breathing out complaints and criticisms, or thanksgiving and encouragement? You breathe in the same air as them don't you, but do you breathe out the same air as them? Do you breathe out words of criticism or words of praise?
It isn't always easy to breathe out words of life when you are breathing in everyone else's grumbling words. But Jesus gave us a clue here in this verse in John. The disciples were in the presence of Jesus after He was resurrected. He was talking to them--breathing out words of life. He said, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And after He said that He breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit--the very breath of God--into them. They had to breathe His breath in first before they could breathe out. You can't breathe out life until you breathe it in! As a believer in Jesus Christ, you can breathe in the very breath of God--His Holy Spirit--and as your spiritual lungs stay filled with His breath, you can breathe out words of life wherever you are! How do we do this?
When we receive His peace and stay in the presence of the Lord wherever we are, breathing in His Words and the breath of the Holy Spirit, then we will stay filled with His breath. As we walk and talk with Him wherever we are so we continually breathe in His Words, rather than the poisoned atmosphere of the complaints of others around us, then we will be able to breathe out His words into the atmosphere around us--filling it with life instead of death. Life overcomes death! Good overcomes evil! Light overcomes darkness!
Jesus gave us another clue when He continued His conversation with the disciples and said, "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." If we hold on to the hurtful words of others and take offense then we succumb to that atmosphere of death, which is contrary to the Spirit of God who is loving and forgiving. Quit struggling and beating yourself up for giving in to the atmosphere around you and instead breathe in His peace, His breath, His words, and His Spirit. Stay in communion with Him throughout your day, and watch the atmosphere around you change!