Third Breath

By: Dr. David Campbell
Zero Dark Thirty
We have been thinking about breath. There are five that frame who we are as a people of faith. Today I want to share about the third breath. It was a last breath… and it was not. This is Mark’s account.
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The crucifixion provides the third breath.   “He breathed his last.”   One of my favorite singer/songwriters is Andrew Peterson.   In his song “High Noon” you hear these words.
Now the demons, they danced in the darkness
When that last ragged breath left his lungs
And they reveled and howled
At the war that they thought they had won
The “last ragged breath left his lungs.” I don’t know if you have ever seen someone die. I remember my first experience. There was a man I considered a dear friend. He was in my church and we had hit it off. I could tell you plenty of stories to display his heart and his wit.    We knew he was sick. I was standing in his hospital room in between his wife and one of his children. He would breathe and there would be a pause. Would he breathe again? Would he?   And then he would. Until he didn’t. He took one. And he did not take another. He inhaled. He exhaled. And he was gone. Just like that. Peaceful.

Jesus’ death was not peaceful. Jesus allowed nails to be driven through his flesh, his side to be pierced and his lungs to suffocate. He willingly died the most brutal death out of love for you and me. He was willing to suffer through all of that for the salvation of the world. “He breathed his last." At least for the moment. There were actually still more breaths to come…
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