But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
A physics professor was giving a grueling final exam to his undergrad students. He told them they could bring one standard size sheet of paper to the exam. Whatever they could fit on the paper could be used to help them. Some students spent hours cramming as much information as possible in minuscule writing on the front and back of their piece of paper. On the day of the exam all the students frantically filed in and took their seats with their pencils, calculators, and cheat sheets. There was one student garnering strange looks because his paper was completely blank. Just before the exam began, he placed the paper on the floor next to his desk, and in walked another person – a graduate student working on her PhD in physics. She stood on the sheet of paper and helped the young man answer every question on the exam.
I don’t know if that story is true. It probably isn’t. But I think it’s a fitting description of one role the Holy Spirit plays in our lives today, as he did for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus never wrote a book. He never founded an official school. As far as we know no one took precise notes during his sermons. I’ve always wondered how we ended up with so much of his teaching and miracles preserved for us.
John fills in the gap for us. He relays Jesus’ assurances about the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of his followers. One thing the Spirit would do is give them a “ready recollection” of Jesus’ teachings. I am eternally grateful for this miraculous preservation of Christ’s teachings. Along the line someone had the foresight to write down the Apostles’ teachings and circulate those writings as the Gospel accounts we have today.
I am definitely no apostle, but I have had similar experiences. On countless occasions as I’ve been preaching or teaching, I have found myself saying something or making a point or connection that I had not planned for, studied, or considered until that moment. Is that the Holy Spirit speaking through me? Maybe. I don’t fully understand the work of the Spirit, but I always try to leave room for him to speak.
Thank you, Christ, for the gift of the Holy Spirit.