Call to Worship: God Breathes

By Josh Butler, Art by Martin French

This Call to Worship was originally given during Sunday morning service on 9/11/16 at Imago Dei Central City Campus. 

In John 20, just after Christ has risen from the dead, he appears to his disciples. In verse 22, it says “he took a deep breath and breathed into them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’ he said.” At first glance, this seems kind of weird. If I just walked up and breathed on you, you’d probably think I was crazy.

So what is Christ doing here? Well, the imagery in this scene seems to draw on the creation story in Genesis. God forms humanity from the dust, from the clay of the earth. But we’re just kind of lifeless until God puts his mouth on our lips and breathes his Pneuma, his Spirit, into us. In this picture, our very lives are sustained by the presence of God. God is not just another being out in the universe somewhere. God is being itself. We live and exist from his being.

As we have turned away from the God of life and light and we’ve turned towards destruction,  darkness and death, we’re on a trajectory that leads away from the life that God’s Pneuma breathed into us. But through his death and resurrection, Christ has conquered our destruction, has conquered our darkness, has conquered our death. So when Christ breathes on us as his followers, he breathes into us as the Son of God. He breathes out the Pneuma, the presence of God.

And so we come as a people longing to be filled with God’s life-giving presence - not just to know about God, but to walk with God. We come as a people who long to hear his voice, who are filled and restored by him and who dwell in the midst of his Spirit.


Pastor Josh Butler oversees Imago Dei's department of Global/Local Outreach, which includes city ministries in areas like foster care, human trafficking and homelessness as well as international partnerships in areas like clean water, HIV-support and church-planting. He is also the author of two books: The Skeletons in God's Closet and The Pursuing God. You can read more from Josh at his blog: joshuaryanbutler.com.