Summary: “I Can’t Breathe” has become a rallying cry following the murders of Eric Garner and George Floyd. Many people are feeling strangled by fear and hatred right now. We need Jesus to breathe on us and that we may breathe.
Text: John 20:19-22 (KJV)
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Subject: Jesus Breathes When We Can’t
My brothers and sisters ... not being able to breathe is without question one of the most agonizing and traumatizing things a human being can ever experience. We can imagine how Eric Garner and George Floyd felt in the final moments of their lives while they were strangled and suffocated by rogue police officers who ignored their desperate plea for air. 6-years separate their murders, and now ... “I Can’t Breathe! I Can’t Breathe!” have become the words that have sparked another nationwide rallying cry to demand more police accountability in the deaths of unarmed black men. Just as it was 6-years ago, the past few days have been tragic in city across America as we watch what were peaceful neighborhoods and thriving cities become battlegrounds. Our airwaves and news papers are saturated with sad stories and appalling accounts of violence and destruction as people wild out in an effort to have their cries heard! Burning cars, smashed store front windows, looted businesses and riot police are featured on network television and on newspaper front pages around the globe. A month ago COVID-19 was the news everyone was talking about, but the Corona pandemic has now been bumped to second-tier status in many places. I asked the Lord to speak to me and give me some words to encourage us in this hurtful hour. Oh my brothers and sisters ... we need something! It seems that fear, anger, and hatred has us too in a stranglehold. We need divine help like never before! Well ... I stopped by today to tell you that heaven has spoken and given me a message. The message is: “Jesus Breathes When We Can’t”.
In our text, we find the disciples of Jesus assembled and huddled behind closed doors for fear of certain Jews and Rome. You see, the Pharisees and Sadducees had teamed up with Rome to get rid of Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t particularly care for one another but both — both hated Jesus. Their hatred for Christ united them in opposition to the master. I’ve said this many times before: “There are people who don’t like each other, but when you come around, they hook up!”
The disciples feared for their lives because they wondered if the Roman authorities would come after them like they went after Jesus. Christ had recently been crucified and buried, and after the crucifixion, the Bible informs us that the disciples went on self-quarantined lock down. GET THIS: They could hardly breathe due to fear. ... But it was in that painful mental state that Jesus showed up! The record says that it was while they were assembled together, while the door was closed and locked, that Jesus appeared with words of comfort. I wonder ... is there anyone watching who can testify that when you’re in a right relationship with Jesus, when crazy stuff jumps off in your life; when you find yourself in a position where fear is trying to overtake your life; when you’ve locked yourself up tightly and securely and won’t let anyone else in, because you can’t trust them ... does anyone here know — that’s when Jesus will show up? In this 20th Chapter of John, Jesus does just that — He shows up. He appears to his disciples after he had risen from the dead. I can imagine that they were happy, but at the same time they were terrified. Dead people don’t just show up like that. Evidently they forgot that Christ had told them Jesus bid them “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”.
They thought that he was talking about the church building, but he was speaking prophetically about his death and resurrection. The Lord, that day, gave each of them free breathing treatments. The treatment was contained in one word — “peace!” Yes ... John informs us that when Jesus miraculously appeared in their midst he said to them: “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” And when he had said this, the book says that “he breathed on them,” then said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost!” Ladies and gentlemen ... Jesus is a peace producer and peace provider. It was his bidding of peace that calmed down this room full of despondent disciples. Yes ... they were despondent. Their leader ... their teacher ... their mentor ... had just died a cruel and ignominious death on a crude cross. They needed peace. Emotionally they couldn’t breathe (so to speak) due to sadness and fear. But you know ... this wasn’t the first time the great peace giver gave peace. I’m reminded of that time when Jesus was asleep in the back of a boat, and a storm of wind arose tossing the boat to and fro. The Bible says that the waves beat upon the ship heaving buckets of water into the boat. Even though Jesus was onboard the boat, the Disciples became afraid. They became so fearful that they thought they were going to die. But they ran to Jesus, awoke him and when Jesus got up, all he had to say was “Peace be still!” — and the Bible tells us that the wind and the waves stopped all of their raucous. AND I KNOW THIS: if Jesus can calm the raging sea, surely he can calm the fears of you and me!