Love is in the air as the Messiah takes His first breath.
Inhale: This I so love.
By His breath He made the world; now in this world He breathes it in.
Love is in the air as the Messiah takes his last breath.
Exhale: It is finished.
From his breath-inspired Word, catch a glimpse of glory giv’n.
The first reference to God’s breath in the Bible is in Genesis 2 when God creates humans. Verse 7 says, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” He breathes out, breathing into us, our very sustenance.
Then in Genesis 8 the Lord smells the pleasing aroma of Noah’s sacrifice to God after the flood, and God promises to never curse the ground or destroy all living things. He breathes in, intaking praise.
The God of the Bible contrasts with manmade idols, including all lifeless things to which we give our devotion. The psalmist in Psalm 115 mocks such idols: “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not ear; noses, but do not smell.” But our God is alive. Moreover, He breathed in the most literal, human sense.
When Jesus first breathed in and out that Christmas night, it was, I’m sure, perfectly ordinary. His breath wasn’t a different color. And I doubt it smelled like a box of Altoids. He didn’t blow out magical shapes like a wizard with a pipe. There was a normal exchange of molecules in the air: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, plus some others.
And yet what is ordinary about God in human form?
What is ordinary about a king taking the form of a servant?
What is ordinary about choosing to endure pain?
Yet so it began in the stable. Love is always more than ordinary.
Christmas highlights the great paradox. The beautiful irony of the Incarnation.
Christmas brings us the perfect gift. The only solution to our sin.
I love Christmas. I love the quiet commencement of substutionary atonement (starkly contrasting the consumeristic fanfare that overtakes stores and homes alike). I envy the shepherds more than I should, pondering how they breathed in the scientifically insignificant but spiritually symbolic air full of fresh breath from heaven.
I come to the stable, breathe in deep, and behold the Breath-giver.