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Bible Study Guide for Pentecost: Sunday, May 23, 2021

May 17, 2021
  • Ezekiel 37:1-14
  • Acts 2:1-21
  • John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
  • Psalm 104:25-35, 37

This Pentecost Sunday Jesus says to us, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” It is strange to think of how Jesus leaving us is an advntage, particularly in terms of having the Holy Spirit. Jesus was a person in a specific place and time with particular sayings. He is the Son of God, a role that while complex is something concrete we can wrap our minds around. In comparison, the Holy Spirit can seem elusive and only vaguely understood.

And yet this same elusiveness means the Holy Spirit can be found in many places. In my own spiritual life, I have often found the Spirit to be almost be like a spiritual “itch” bothering me to do the things I know I should do, but am reluctant or afraid to do. The Holy Spirit can also be words of comfort we hear from another. Or perhaps we find ourselves saying words we didn’t know we had within us. The Spirit is present there also.

Which begs the question, how is all this to our advantage? The Spirit is nice, but wouldn’t it be easier for Jesus to stick around and tell us exactly what we should do?

My own answer to this is that God wants to give us some room to spread our wings. God and Jesus hope more from us than our being members of a personality cult. They desire nothing less than the transformation of the human heart, perhaps the most intractable stuff to be found in all the cosmos. Like the children of God that we are, we will never truly be transformed and able to prove ourselves unless Jesus gives us some space and clears the way the for us.

If we seek an example of this transformation, we need look no further than the example of Peter. In the Gospels, Peter often seems confused, cowardly, or even a little dense. In Acts, when allowed to take charge, Peter is a bold and eloquent leader enflamed by the Holy Spirit. With the Spirit subtly guiding our lives, instead of being blind followers of Jesus, we are true followers of the Resurrected and Eternal Jesus Christ.

  • Do you find the Holy Spirit to be elusive? Or do you find the Spirit more approachable than God the Father or God as Jesus?
  • Do you ever feel the need for some space or separation from God?
  • What might Jesus’s example of clearing the way for others look like at Church?

Author: Ryan Newberry


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