A Brother Among Brothers
As we introduced this series of lessons on the apostles, we stated that these men gave us lessons we can learn. This is no less true with Andrew. Although there is little in the Scripture about him, he stands out as a wonderful example for us to follow.
As stated, many identify with Peter, but we might have more in common with Andrew. For example, have you ever:
- Encouraged someone with a smile?
- Invited someone to a Bible study?
- Invited someone to church to hear a special speaker?
- Picked up someone to bring them to services?
- Taken food to someone?
- Given someone a book to read or a pamphlet about a specific Bible subject?
These are just a few ways we have shared the characteristics of Andrew. In doing so we have shared the gifts God has given us. Our Lord taught the disciples, and us to use the gifts God has provided us to glorify the Father. This is especially part of the teachings to the apostles in Matthew 25 when our Lord taught about judgment. Starting in verse 14 He taught the great Parable of the Talents, clearly instructing us to use what God has given us for His glory. Then in the final judgment scene described by Jesus notice the focus, feeding others less fortunate, giving a drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned. Jesus states that when we do this, we are doing it to Him. When we do not do this, we are withholding it from Him (Matthew 25:31-46). This is consistent with our Lord's answer to what is the greatest commandment from Matthew 22:36-40. Andrew and the others would have heard this and learned to put it into practice.
As we are doing with all these lessons, we will focus on the biblical information about Andrew and what we can learn from him. Sometimes our transformation in Christ is drastic. With most of us, however, the transformation is gradual and steady. Like Andrew, we might not notice the change, but as we remain focused and faithful, change will occur.
Andrew was among the first to become a disciple of Jesus. As Andrew is introduced to us in John 1, we see that he is a disciple of John the Baptist who points Jesus out to Andrew, and apparently to John who will also become a disciple of Jesus. They leave John the Baptist and go with Jesus (John 1:35-40) to spend the afternoon with Him. Imagine the thrill of that afternoon. They would marvel in the discovery of the Christ as they listened to every word of Jesus. It is no wonder that afterwards Andrew immediately went to his brother Peter with the words, "We have found the Messiah!" (John 1:41).
I find it interesting that after Andrew and Peter's first encounter with our Lord as recorded by John, they apparently returned to their fishing. Imagine the conversation between the two brothers after meeting our Lord.
In Matthew's account of the calling of Peter and Andrew to become disciples, we see that the two brothers had returned to their fishing, and when Jesus personally called the two to become fishers of men, they immediately left their nets to become full-time disciples and later apostles (Matthew 4:18-20).
On two occasions Andrew is teamed up with Philip, who also became a disciple, to bring others to Jesus. In John 6:8-11, Jesus fed the 5,000 with the barley loaves and fish brought by a boy. Philip was uncertain how they would feed so many. Andrew apparently noticed the young boy with the meager provisions and asked Jesus how that little would feed so many. Later, in John 12:20-22, Philip again brings two foreigners (Greeks) to Andrew who then introduces them to Jesus.
The last mention we see of Andrew is at the ascension of Jesus in Acts 1:6-11. He, along with the others, strained to capture one more glimpse of the Lord as He returned to heaven.
When compared to Peter, James, and John, we see Andrew has a different personality. Andrew seems to be one who quietly guides others to meet our Lord. Andrew seemed to be pleased to do what he could for our Lord with the gifts he had and supporting others to do likewise.
Of the disciples in the inner circle, Andrew seems to be the most thoughtful. Peter, we know to have been impetuous, rushing ahead, frequently saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. James and John were nicknamed "Sons of Thunder," because of their reckless tendencies (Mark 3:17). Scripture never directly attaches anything negative to Andrew. When Jesus would rebuke, Andrew was included in the group, not singled out individually.
What We Learn from Andrew
Andrew teaches us that every individual is valuable.
We have already stated that when we see Andrew, he is usually bringing someone to Jesus. It does not matter whether it is to learn from Jesus or to deal with a situation, his focus is bringing someone to Jesus. There is no confusion on his part. That should be our focus. Whether by ourselves or teamed with another, we must ask ourselves how we can introduce this person to Jesus.
Along with the value of the individual, we see Andrew knows the value of personal contact.
Personal contact is the strongest form of evangelism. Rarely is someone converted to our Lord from just hearing a Gospel sermon. Usually someone invites the person to come where there is some sort of relationship, study, and contact. Sometimes a person may not even have attended "church" until he or she has been converted.
Andrew was someone's "link in the chain" of events leading to their conversion. It is very possible that at judgment when the faithful are gathered with the Lord, you might see Andrew in your links in the chain of those who influenced you for the Lord.
Andrew teaches us the value of simple gifts.
We might think we have little to offer God or that what we do is not important, but that is from our perspective. Maybe what we offer is only a smile, an invitation or a small kindness performed for one in need. The reality is that God has graced each of us with what we need to serve Him as we can. Never underestimate what God can do with what we have.
As mentioned, there is little within the scripture record of Andrew. Tradition has it that Andrew continued to teach the gospel in what is now Russia. There is also a tradition that Andrew traveled to Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and Greece.
Tradition says Andrew was crucified in Greece near Athens on an X-shaped cross. One account states that Andrew converted the wife of a Roman governor who had Andrew crucified because she would not recant her faith.
Andrew clearly shows us that the power of greatness is in our Lord. We may feel that we cannot do much or that we do not have great skill or ability to offer our Lord. That is the furthest thing from reality. We all have talents and resources, some unique to us, that we can use to bring others to Christ, just as our brother Andrew did. Through his example we can see that we too can use our gifts to become all that Jesus wants us to become.
Andrew was among the first to hear and follow Jesus. He was part of the inner circle, close to Jesus most of the time and he experienced much of the glory of our Lord. He spent a lifetime doing what he enjoyed the most, bringing others to Jesus.
Andrew would love to sing the old spiritual song, "Balm of Gilead." He would especially have enjoyed the second verse.
"If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus and say,
'He died for all.'"
We need more Andrews today.
- What was Andrew's action after spending time with Jesus and what can we learn from it?
- What style of evangelism did Andrew practice and why is this a successful method?
- What would lead someone to think that Andrew was more thoughtful or withdrawn than Peter, John, and James, the other three of the group closest to Jesus, and how does this relate to many in the church today?
- How does Andrew show the value of individuals?
- What gift(s) do you possess and how can you use these in service to our Lord?