Breath giving, breath taking!

You may recall that on Easter evening, Jesus’ apostles were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews and Jesus came to them and said, “Peace to you.” Jesus’ proclamation of peace to them is important for at least three reasons. First, they were afraid of how Jesus might respond to their abandoning Him; what if Jesus came among them through locked doors in order to punish or condemn them? Second, they were closed in behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. “Peace” means “wide open spaces,”—Jesus’ proclamation had power to set them free, which we see in the narrative of Acts 2—5. Third, Jesus’ proclamation of peace confirmed the forgiveness of sins, reminding them that He had not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world, by Him, might be redeemed.

Then Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whoever’s sins you forgive have been and remain forgiven and whoever’s sins you retain, have been and remain retained.” The Breath of God is the Holy Spirit. Have you ever wondered where the Holy Spirit is or where mention of the Holy Spirit is all through the Bible, which talks about God the Father and God the Son? The Holy Spirit is always right there, in those words (John 6:63). Remember how Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father and they would be satisfied? Jesus said, “How can you ask Me to show you the Father? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” The same is true of the Holy Spirit; whoever is seeing or hearing the Word of God is seeing and hearing the Holy Spirit—the Breath, Spirit, and wind of God.

Last Monday, the ever-unhappy students in one of my classes took my breath away when they so matter-of-factly explained that women deserved the right to end the life of their unborn child for whatever reason. Never mind any of the truth/realities about the life of the unborn child or about the health and well-being of the mother or the responsibility and concern of the father or family; if that’s what she wants to do, then she is entitled and empowered. Here was the absence of the Breath of God . . . but in spite of these unhappy students, we have had nearly 42 hours of classroom time where the inspired Word of God filled the room and so the hearts, minds, and souls of the others. This year at CUI a single student started a “Students For Life” club, recruited members, and connected with my daughter so she could train them to make elementary classroom presentations about the life of the unborn child.  That club made those presentations in Lutheran schools in Orange County. Seventh and eighth graders, their parents, Lutheran school teachers, and our students at CUI have been able, by way of ultrasound images, photographs, and fetal models, to see babies who are 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 22, and 26 weeks old—God’s profoundly powerful creative work in giving life.

Let me know if any of these resources would be a help to you. When the lies and murder of the devil take our breath away, the risen Lord Jesus stands in our midst and says, “Peace to you.” He breathes His Spirit on us and so fills us with truth, grace, love, and courage to share His living Word and breath with others for the life of the world.

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