Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Breathe on Me
Over the past couple of months, you have no doubt become much more aware of people breathing on you. Social distancing has led you to a pretty good idea of how far away six feet is. You have been hesitant to be any closer to people who might infect you with the coronavirus.
Now you read in the gospel of John that Jesus breathed on his disciples after he rose from the dead. Maybe you never noticed those words before, but they jump out at you now. What was Jesus doing?
Jesus explained a couple of things that he was doing. The first explanation is that he was connecting his disciples to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He was sending them just as his Father had sent him. They would be going with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power he provided.
What power? That’s the second explanation Jesus gave his disciples. He told them that now they had the power to forgive the sins of penitent people and withhold forgiveness from impenitent people.
That power to forgive people is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Every Christian has it, and every Christian will want to practice it until it becomes as natural as breathing. When someone asks for forgiveness, Christians are eager to assure them that they are forgiven because Jesus has earned forgiveness for them.
Perhaps some people have not done right by you during this pandemic. Forgive them. Breathe these words out loud: “I forgive you. Just as God has forgiven me, I forgive you, for Jesus’ sake.”
Then take a deep breath and relax. This is how a Christian lives now that Jesus has risen from the dead.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit and letting me breathe words of forgiveness. Amen.