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Psalm 104:30; John 19:30

Psalm 104:30; John 19:30
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Psalm 104:30, “When you send forth your Spirit [or “breath’], they are created…”

John 19:30, “He bowed His head and handed over the spirit [or “breath”].”

As you may know, the same word is used both for “Spirit” and “Breath” in Hebrew as well as in Greek. This is a fruitful ambiguity. Biblical authors often use the word without explaining which they mean (Spirt or Breath), and—in some sense—intend both meanings. Certainly when the Subject is YHWH, His “breath” and His “Spirit” are more or less indistinguishable.

When YHWH sends forth His Spirit, life springs up from the dead earth (Ps.104:30). The Spirit/Breath of the Lord is creative and life-giving…it hovers over the darkness at the beginning (Gen.1:2), it beautifies the skies each morning and evening (Job 26:13), it regenerates stone hearts (Ez.36:26), clothes dry bones with flesh, and raises the dead to life (Ez.37:4-10). When YHWH breaths out the breath who is His Spirit, there is LIFE.

And this is supremely—albeit surprisingly—true on the cross. All the breathings of YHWH’s Spirit throughout all of Scripture find their source in Christ’s climactic exhalation in death…indeed, on Calvary we find the spiritual lungs of the cosmos. It is there, when the image of God—crucified in love—breaths out His life into the charnel house of our world, that YHWH “sends forth His Spirit” and so inaugurates New Creational life.

In this image I wanted to consider Christ’s life-giving final breath. First, notice that Christ dies as our representative and in our place. The only reason He breathes out His life, is because He is dying our death with and for us. And yet, in dying our death through the obedience of love—and in rising again beyond that death—Christ has turned our death into not only an intimate space wherein He alone meets with us (since He alone has died with us), but He has also turned it into the pathway to true life, the portal into the presence of God.

Christ secures His people by His blood and vivifies His people by His Spirit (breath)…the emblems of His death (blood and Spirit/breath/water, c.f.,Jn 19:34,37; Zech 12:10) draw us into His own indestructible life.