Small Group Bible StudyJune, Wk. 1, “Holy Spirit”
In Genesis 2:5 we are introduced to a barren landscape of dirt and rock that is devoid of life. But God breathes into the lifeless dirt to create life. This is a fundamental image in the Bible, that God’s personal life-giving presence is what sustains all living creatures. Apart from God’s own life-presence, there is only disorder and death. But when God’s Spirit is in the mix, the impossible suddenly becomes possible and life can come from non-life.
In this poem God is depicted as a lumberjack, cutting down Israel’s leaders who have arrogantly elevated themselves. And in their place, God will cause a new branch to sprout from the lineage of Jesse (David’s father!). He will be empowered by God’s Spirit to be the most wise, kind, and generous leader anyone could imagine. God’s Spirit produces a messianic king who uses his power to serve the poor and confront corruption. And you know God’s Spirit is involved when the signs of Eden begin to emerge, when the powerless are no longer in danger because “the land will be filled with knowing Yahweh like the waters cover the sea.”
The night before Jesus was arrested and executed, he washed the feet of his closest followers as a rich symbol of his love for them. This was a foretaste of his ultimate act of love on the cross. And this love was supposed to multiply as his followers shared that same self-giving love with each other. When Jesus later promises to send “the Spirit of truth,” he makes it clear that his own presence, comfort, and love will come to take up residence “inside you.” And if the life and love of the servant-king is truly in you, it will lead to further acts of self-giving love, or in Jesus’ words, “the one who has my commandments and keeps them, this is the one who loves me.” The logic is fairly simple. When our lives are characterized by others-centered love, that’s when we know that the Spirit is working through us.