The Breath of Life

John 3:22-36

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for Godgives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for Godgives the Spirit without limit. 

As a young bloke at high school we once went on a safari to the centre of Australia. Along the way we toured the mine at Mt Isa. At the mine I learnt something amazing about our breath: we use up breath to speak. This sounds simple (yes, I’m a slow learner) but the ramifications are big: if you get stuck down a mineshaft then you have limited air to breathe, so you shouldn’t speak too much. Be quiet. Don’t talk underground unnecessarily. Save your breath. Because we use up a lot of our breath, to speak.

Now although this nugget of knowledge could come in handy sometime, for most of us the chance of getting stuck underground is pretty small. But how conscious are we about using our very breath each day to speak the words we speak? The wind from our lungs comes up our windpipe and we shape it’s movement with our vocal chords, mouth and lips to make all our words. Our words and our breath go together. We breathe, and we speak.

It’s the same with God. God breathes, and God speaks. In the old testament God’s ‘Spirit’ was spoken of as God’s ‘breath’. Where his breath goes, his Spirit goes. And where he breathes his Spirit, he breathes words. In the beginning remember, God’s Spirit was there, and God’s words were the result: ‘God said, “Let there be light”.’ God breathed, and God spoke.

In the New Testament, John the gospel writer and John the Baptist both testify that Jesus is the one who speaks ‘the words of God’ (3:34). Jesus is the very embodiment of God’s words – he is ‘the Word of God’ (1:1). And in this passage above, we see again how God’s words and God’s Spirit go together: 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for Godgives the Spirit without limit. 

If you want to see God’s Spirit at work, then watch and listen as God’s Word is taught. If you want the Spirit of Jesus to be changing your heart, then feed your heart with the words of Jesus. If you’re praying for the Spirit to be on the move in this city, then testify to the message of Jesus – with words. God’s Spirit and God’s Word go together!

Head: What might be dangerous in thinking of God’s Spirit as somehow working separately from his Word, Jesus?

Heart: How do you feel knowing that as you listen to the words of Jesus, the Spirit of Jesus is at work in your heart? 

Hands: As you speak today, think about how your breath – the breath of life – powers your words. Prayer:  Our Father in Heaven, we thank you for speaking the cosmos into being with bare words. Thank you for your breath, your Spirit, the breath of life. Thank you that when Jesus came as the very Word of God, he came breathing the Spirit of God, giving the Spirit of new life. Please help me today as I breathe in and breathe out, to speak words of new life to people, as I believe and testify to Jesus. I pray this in the name of your Son, and by the power of the Spirit of Jesus, Amen.

This Grow Daily was first posted in 2016 with the ‘Spirit of Jesus’ series.