Peace Be With You
Open Your Bible
John 20:19-23, Genesis 2:4-7, Galatians 5:16-26
Text: John 20:19-23, Genesis 2:4-7, Galatians 5:16-26
After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
– John 20:22, HCSB
There are people who are afraid of elevators because they are scared they may get stuck inside, and there are people who are afraid of elevators because they have been stuck inside. I’m part of the second group and certainly not proud of it.
It was a smoldering summer day in Columbia, South Carolina—endearingly referred to as the “Famously Hot” city, not-so-endearingly known as the armpit of the South. I was a hopeful, bright-eyed high school senior in a tour group of students who would soon become my peers on a campus I would one day call my own. As we approached a residence hall, all 14 of us (I would have a lot of time to count them in the near future) piled into the elevator, scrunching to make room for the last person as the tour guide politely “volunteered” to take the stairs. The doors closed, and the elevator moved a few inches before coming to a halt. We anxiously eyed one another, acknowledging the loss of personal space and the beads of sweat forming on our foreheads.
The previously composed girl wearing white high heels and standing behind me began to gasp for air. She was hyperventilating into my hair as I stood, unable to escape. We all became acutely aware of the rapidly decreasing person-to-fresh-air ratio.
I had never been so conscious of my breathing as I was in that moment.
When we would finally be rescued almost an hour later (I know, but I’ll spare you the details!), I remember barging past all the concerned university officials to take my first deep gulp of refreshing, untouched air.
When Jesus is speaking some of His last words to the disciples, they were in an even more tense situation, hiding behind locked doors from the Jews. He says to them, “Peace be with you,” which is not a kind word of comfort but a promise, because peace would soon be upon them, keeping them company in the form of the Holy Spirit.
And then Jesus does the most beautiful thing. He BREATHES the Holy Spirit into the disciples.
Just this time, let’s not jump to the fruit of the Spirit and consider the Holy Spirit Himself in terms of this initial breath. Could it be that Jesus is teaching us about Himself and the Spirit through the means He uses to transfer it?
After all, the Lord initially breathed the breath of life into our nostrils (Genesis 2:4-7). And as Jesus sends the disciples, I can’t help but to notice His words align with the natural rhythms of breath.
Inhale. We can celebrate because peace is no longer near or far but WITH us. It has been breathed into our souls!
But breathing isn’t just a one-way street. Our lives are not sustained by the holding of breath.
Exhale. We take this peace that is with us into the world! As Matthew Henry writes, “Christ was now sending the disciples to publish peace to the world (Isa. 52:7)”.
As Jesus issues peace to us, we have the privilege of issuing it to the world around us. Like a breath of fresh air in an oxygen-starved room is the peace of Christ, His gift to us.
Kaitlin Wernet is a Carolina girl who now plants her feet in Tennessee as the Community Coordinator for She Reads Truth. Each day, she excitedly celebrates grace with her SRT sisters while attempting to tame her curly hair and avoid parallel parking.