And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)
That moment after Jesus’ final shout and breath would have been the most profound silence the world has ever known.
How many mothers have peeked into the room where their children are sleeping, just to hear the sound of their breathing? Maybe you’ve woken up at night to listen your spouse breathing next to you. The rhythmic sound of my breathing syncs with my footsteps during an early morning run. When you’re playing hide and seek, it’s hard to breathe quietly and not give yourself away. Each year you have to take a bigger and bigger breath to blow out all those candles on your birthday cake! Sometimes we audibly sigh, releasing a breath of frustration or despair.
The first breaths of Jesus brought shepherd and wise men to see the Savior in Bethlehem. The heavy breaths of a sleeping Jesus in a small boat in a big storm were interrupted by the disciples who though they were going to die. A deep sigh from Jesus gave a man a chance to hear again. His breath equips his disciples for ongoing ministry.
What will we do without his breath?
A long time ago, the prophet Ezekiel once looked out over a valley full of very dry bones. These bones were God’s people. They were breathless, lifeless, very dead people. God’s instructions were simple. Speak to them. Speak my word to them. Breathe life into them. God breathed life into the first people he formed from the dirt. Now his words bring us to life, too.
Everything dies. Everything passes away. Everything has an expiration date. You have an expiration date. But the word of the Lord endures forever.
One day I will take my last breath. I wonder where that last breath will be. With family around me at home? At church, preaching my final sermon? In a hospital, in the emergency room or intensive care unit? On I-95, where survival is never guaranteed? In the Amazon river, pulled under by piranha? On a zip line that breaks halfway down? At a shopping mall (or church) where someone decides to unload a whole clip of an AR-47? Or while I am asleep next to my wife?
There is one thing I know for sure. After I take my last breath in this life, I will take my next with the Lord. On the third day, he was alive and well and breathing, amazing his friends with his resurrection. With Jesus, your last breath isn’t your last. Your last breath in this life is followed by your next in eternity.
So to all who are reading these words, stop for a moment, and think about your breathing. You are alive. You will die. All who trust in Jesus breathe again. You will breathe forever!
Stop and take a long deep breath. What a gift to be alive!
Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, I am so glad to be alive and breathing, both today and forever. Amen.