When God made Adam, it says that he created him from the dust of the earth and then breathed into him to give Adam life. Adam came to life because of God breathing into him.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.Genesis 2:7
I learned today that the word for “breath” in the sentence above is the word ruach, a word that, in Hebrew, seeks to imitate the sound of a breath. It is actually the same word for Spirit, which as I also learned, is the same in Greek and in Latin as it was translated from the Hebrew.
In other words, although we read that God breathed his breath into the nostrils of the man to give him life, we could also translate that as God breathing his Spirit into the man, into Adam, which gave Adam life.
Jesus – Born of the Spirit
This reminds me of a few other passages within the New Testament scriptures. A few other new beginnings.
First, when Mary would become pregnant, the angel Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would become pregnant with Jesus. In a similar way to the Spirit of God enlivening Adam, we see also that Jesus was born without a human father, but instead from the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.Luke 1:35
Next, I’m reminded of when Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born of the Spirit. He said that if we want to be able to see the Kingdom of God, we must be born of the Spirit:
Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.John 3:5-8
Again, we see a scenario where someone is born, or actually in this case, reborn, through the Spirit. They have lived in the flesh, but they must be born of the Spirit if they want to see or be part of the Kingdom of God.
And finally, after Jesus was resurrected, there was a time that he appeared to his disciples. As he was commissioning them to go, he tells the disciples that he was sent by the Father, and so now he is also sending them, the disciples, and he breathes on them telling them to receive the Holy Spirit:
Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.John 20:21-22
Here, we see a new start as well. Jesus has been resurrected and the new start is the new life of the disciples as Jesus is sending them to tell the world what has happened. They will fully receive the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but Jesus breathes on them the Spirit, giving them new life.
The takeaway? God gives life. Only through Him can we receive life. This is what we saw with Adam who received life by God’s breath, God’s Spirit being breathed into him.
This is also what we see through Jesus as God’s Spirit came to Mary and placed Jesus within her.
This is what we see as we transition from death to life through the Spirit of God as we are reborn by the Spirit.
And this is what we see as we receive the Holy Spirit and are sent by Christ into the world to tell others of what we have seen, experienced, and understood…that they also can have new life.