Breathe on me: 1 April


This picture portrays Christ in the moment in which he reveals his divine nature to his disciples. Bellini has painted the Transfiguration twenty years earlier but this time he shows a more relaxed style, in which the figures are freely inserted within a warmer and more natural setting. He signed it on the small chart hanging from the fence in the foreground.

John 20 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

Rom 15 17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way round to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:

‘Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.’

Jesus breathed on his disciples and imparted the Holy Spirit. As Jesus breathed on them, he gave them this commission: "Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you." Jesus’  commission from his Father is in some ways no different than ours from him. Jesus had come "to preach good news to the poor … to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of Jubilee”.  We hear our own calling. Jesus boiled this commission down to its root idea when he said, "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

We have been given the calling to help change the destiny of souls. As Jesus was sent, so are we.

The breath of Christ! How the church needs it, and yet so often when we say or sing, "Holy Spirit, breathe on me," we really mean, "Let me taste and feel the power of your Holy Spirit, but don’t make me to do anything that would embarrass me or take too much of my time." Once empowered, our joyous duty is to go into the world doing exactly what he did – seeking and saving those who are lost.

Lord, inspire me to look beyond my own forgiven sin and see those who are still putting their confidence in that which cannot save. Lord, send me to them, but not until you have breathed on me. I want to serve you, but not without your empowering Spirit. It is not possible to do your work without your power.