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 of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark.And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. (Genesis 8:1)
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea;
his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea
You blew with your wind, the sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters. (Exodus 15:4, 10)
Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
Thus says the Lord God to these bones:
I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. (Ezekiel 37:4)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:1)
The breath of God is a power, a life-force.
It creates, restores, enlivens, rescues.
It rips Pharaohs from their thrones and sets the oppressed free.
It resurrects the dead and commands chaos be still.
The breath of God is a power.
The disciples gathered in Jerusalem, waiting as they had been instructed-
for what, they knew not when suddenly, the breath of God came upon them.
Like Adam, they were awakened.
Like Noah, they were saved.
Like Israel, they were delivered.
Like the dry bones in the valley, they were revived.
Empowered by the Spirit, they began to speak, to tell the story of this Jesus. The crowds began to gather.
Clouds of dust billowed as hundreds, then thousands gathered to see the spectacle. The Roman soldiers were on edge.
Was this an uprising? Should they silence the speaker, push back the crowds, disperse the people before things go out of hand?
But wait, what language were they speaking? Latin? No, the language of the Medes. No, that can’t be right.
It’s the language of the Parthians. How is this possible?
Notice: the miracle was not uniformity. The crowd did not morph into a homogenous unit.
Each one maintained their distinct culture, language, and story.
The miracle was the breath of God, moving with power so that every person regardless of ethnicity or origin
might hear the Good News that God is for them in the person of Jesus.
Soon, the disciples would come to realize that this message of hope belonged not only to Jews, but to every nation under heaven.
Every tribe, every tongue. The power of the breath.
Breath feels in short supply these days.
When a man lies dead in the street for lack of breath, when crowds roar in rage, fear, and exhaustion, when people cower behind social media posts hoping it counts as their stand against injustice…we are breathless.
We are in desperate need of a breath of power. Not a power that will crush us into conformity, not a power that will defend the status quo, and not a power that will silence dissent- washing us into an indistinguishable shade of nothing.
We need the breath of God.
We need to be awakened.
We need to rescued from the flood waters.
We need to be delivered from Pharaoh and led through the sea.
We need to be revived like sun-bleached, dry bones.
We need the very breath of Jesus to breathe peace over us, shalom- peace that is wholeness, healing, and restoration for all.
In John 20, “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”
By the breath of God, we receive the transformative peace of God, peace that commissions us into the world.
We become agents of shalom.
We become people of courage who work for peace wherever we have been placed.
We recognize that shalom is not shalom if it isn’t for everybody- when anyone is still suffering under the weight of slavery, abuse, racism, or injustice.
This Pentecost, may the breath of God blow mightily among us. May we catch a vision of the people of God, beautifully diverse into eternity. May we not merely dream of shalom someday but may we go forth into the world and work for shalom,
empowered by the breath of God.