How did Jesus breathe?

I know. Through his nose. Unless he had a cold or allergies, in which case he breathed through his mouth.

The question occurred to me as I was reading Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. He said that the reason we struggle to understand Jesus’s statement that his yoke is easy is that we don’t live like Jesus lived.

Instead, we look mostly at the big events, the cool events, the events that receive all the press coverage. All four biographies, for example, talk about feeding 15,000 people. All four spend a lot of time on the last week, the last weekend, the last few hours of his life. The time when he gave up his last breath. But realize that there was a lot of living in between that we don’t know about.

I’m not sure that we need to worry about the events that we don’t know about. But I think we could learn from the way Jesus lived.

So I started wondering the other day how Jesus breathed. He didn’t do some divine “take all your breaths at once”, he actually had to breath several times a minute for thirty-three years. He sighed a couple of times, once in prayer (Mark 7:34), once in frustration (Mark 8:12). Because he knew the psalms, because he went to synagogue and he taught, he likely knew the psalms that say “Everything that has life and breath, praise the Lord”. After he rose, at one point he breathed on the disciples, enacting physically the giving of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). And, for all I know, he still is breathing. With his resurrected ascended body.

Since, apparently, he took one breath at a time, following him will mean the same thing. It is a life filled with unnoted but essential bits of living. Like breathing.

6 thoughts on “How did Jesus breathe?

  1. Dan Sharp (@danielalansharp)

    Glad you’re back – although I appreciated your reason for needing some time off. Thanks for being honest with your readers about needing a break. When we’re able to see mentors and leaders take time off to spend time with family, to work on longer-term projects, or just to ‘sharpen the saw,’ it’s a healthy reminder to each of us that we have to do that in our lives – and that it’s not only ok, it’s actually a good idea. Thanks for your good work!


    1. Jon Swanson

      thanks, Dan. It was a necessary break. As I just told someone else, it was a time of being grateful that there was one less thing to do. But that was it’s own intriguing thing. If I had been writing, I would have been tempted to do my thinking in public about some challenging times. Instead, during the time of 300 silence, I had to do my thinking offline. Which has been better. That said, I’m glad to be back. Writing helps me first. Before it helps anyone else. Or even if it doesn’t.


  2. Rich Dixon

    When I was new at following Jesus I thought it was amazing to think about Him as a real guy doing real stuff like breathing and eating. Some folks in my church thought it was a little disrespectful to talk about Him doing normal human stuff.

    Now I think it’s weird to imagine He became human so we could pretend He wasn’t human because we might offend Him.

    Glad you’re back, and glad you took time to rest and recharge.


  3. Joseph Ruiz (@SMSJOE)

    I was reminded recently that Jesus knew his Father loved and approved of Him before any of these events occurred. Love the picture of the ordinary Jon it’s a comfort and conviction at the same time. I echo what Rich and Dan said. What a treat to see 300 Words in my inbox today.


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