Last night I was in conversation with someone about Jesus breathing on the disciples, saying how I saw that Jesus breathed himself into them. He asked a question, saying that some people would say that as it was Jesus then surely that was all the disciples needed, so why did they have to wait for the Holy Spirit to come?
I’m not sure I could answer at the time, I attempted, but I think I probably failed. But thankfully I had a nice walk this morning to give me time to see what Jesus was saying!
So I’ll go back to the room that the disciples are hiding in. They’ve heard from Mary that Jesus is alive, but they are still afraid and locked up. Jesus appears to them, and this happens,
“Peace, be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Here we have the Word that became flesh breathing upon them. His word to them was “receive the Holy Spirit.” But we see that they had to wait to receive the Spirit. For me, there is something about the Word and the Spirit coming together that is important.
Let’s go back to the beginning. In the beginning was the Word. He was in the beginning, everything was made through him, and nothing was made if it wasn’t through him. We also have the Spirit, brooding over the face of the waters, as if incubating something that was going to hatch. When the Word was spoken, the Spirit and the Word are joined together in creative force and something happens. Creation happens. New life happens.
Skip forward with me to the baptism of Jesus, and John’s testimony that he saw the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove, and remain on him. The Word had already become flesh at the birth of Jesus. Jesus was around 30 years of age when the Spirit descended on him and remained on him. He already knew who he was, aged 12 he knew who his Father was. Yet the Spirit had not yet descended on him, although he was still the Word become flesh. There is another coming together of the Word and the Spirit at the time of his baptism. The Word became flesh, but the Spirit brooded until the appointed time.
Jump again to the appearance of Jesus in the room with the disciples. Jesus, resurrected and full of life, knowing that he was soon to ascend to his former glory, breathes on the disciples and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Is it possible that the Word must become flesh in them, as it did with Jesus himself? Is it possible that before they receive the Holy Spirit, they must first be ready to receive the Spirit, by the Word becoming flesh? In the Word becoming flesh in them, the foundation is set for the Spirit and the Word to come together again. They receive Jesus himself in readiness for this fusion of creative power. There was purpose in the waiting. It was not an impotent, lifeless waiting, but a pregnant like anticipation of what is to come.
And the Spirit is brooding, incubating over what is about to take place in the disciples. And soon he will descend on them and remain on them too. They are no longer waiting in fear, locked up and imprisoned in their disappointment and doubt. The Word has become flesh in them, and they are eagerly anticipating the coming together of the Word and the Spirit, knowing that the fusion of the two in them will enable Jesus to fully be himself in them.
And Jesus desire for each of us is that he, the Word, would become flesh again to continue his work of love. Has he breathed upon us? Has the Word become flesh, in us? And have the Spirit and the Word fused in creative force in us? It is this creative force, this fusion of Jesus himself and the Spirit that is at work within us.
Least that’s how I saw it this morning! 🙂