THE TWELVE 2008 — ANDREW
Peter’s brother Andrew is the least known member of the four apostles. You remember there are four lists of the twelve apostles in the New Testament: Matthew 10:2–4; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:13–16; and Acts 1:13. And in all four lists, Andrew is listed in the first group of four apostles. Which also include Peter, James, and John. And while Andrew is included among this first group, he remains very much in the background throughout Scripture. He is not included in several important events where we see Peter, James, and John—like the transfiguration in Matthew 17:1 or the resurrection of Jairus’ 12 year old daughter in Mark 5:37 or the prayer meeting where the disciples fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:33. However, at other key times, Andrew is present and accounted for as recorded in Mark 1:29 when Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law or while Jesus was teaching from the Mount of Olives in Mark 13:3. So while Andrew may not have been as large and in charge as his brother Peter, there is no question he had a particularly close relationship with Jesus.
Andrew was the first of all the disciples to be called. He was originally from Bethsaida according to John 1:44. Archaeologists have not determined the exact location of Bethsaida, but from its description in the New Testament, it must have been in the northern region of Galilee At some point the brothers moved to the larger city of Capernaum closer to the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. For it was there, located at the junction of key trade routes, that Mark 1:29 says Peter and Andrew shared a home and fishing operation.
Of this special group mentioned first in all four lists of the apostles, Andrew was the least conspicuous. Scripture doesn’t tell us much about him. In fact, Andrew’s name appears in the New Testament only nine other times and most of those are merely in passing. Andrew lived his life in the shadow of his better known brother Peter. James Dobson, in his book Bringing Up Boys, says factors like these often yield resentment, sibling rivalry, or even estrangement. But in Andrew’s case, there is no evidence to suggest that he was jealous of Peter. In fact, it was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus in the first place. He did this immediately and without hesitation. John 1:41–42 (NIV) says, “41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus.”
As Peter’s brother, Andrew knew if he introduced him to Jesus, that Peter would immediately become the center of attention. That Peter would increase and that Andrew would decrease. Had he not introduced Peter to Jesus, he could have remained the star. The chosen one. The first apostle. Maybe gone on the lecture circuit and written a couple books of the Bible too. But that’s not what happened. Andrew knew Peter would act as did, but he introduced him to Jesus anyway, willingly relegating himself to a secondary status and position. That fact alone says much about Andrew’s character and is consistent with the little we do know about him.
Of all the disciples, Andrew appears the least argumentative and the most thoughtful. James and John were known as Sons of Thunder for their reckless temper, but not Andrew. Whenever he speaks in Scripture, he says the right things. He does the right things. Scripture never attaches any dishonor to Andrew’s actions when it mentions him by name. There were certainly times when he made mistakes. Mark 16:10–11 (NIV) says after Mary Magdalene saw the resurrected Jesus, “10She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.” So after the resurrection of Jesus, they were all still slow to believe Andrew included. But in spite of his faults and failings, Andrew was an effective leader even though his name was never on the marquee or under the spotlight.
Andrew’s name means “manly” and it seems like a fitting description for a fisherman hauling around bulging nets of fish. But Andrew also had other characteristics of manliness. He was bold, decisive, and deliberate. He was driven by a passion for truth and was willing to sacrifice his life for it. Remember, He was John the Baptist’s disciple first. And John the Baptist was a very manly man. Matthew 3:4 (NIV) says, “4John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” John the Baptist lived and ministered in the wilderness. He was saying some very unpopular things. About the religious and political leadership of that day. Even calling out Herod the King by name for marital infidelity. To hang out with John the Baptist, you had to be physically and emotionally strong.
The day after John the Baptist baptized Jesus, according to John 1:29–34, Jesus called Andrew to be his first disciple and Andrew said yes. It took place in the wilderness where John was preaching. According to John 1:39, it was about the 10 th hour—or 4:00 in the afternoon. Since John the Baptist had been preaching about preparing the way of the Lord for the coming Messiah, when he actually announced, “Behold the Lamb of God” in John 1:35–36, Andrew quickly put the pieces together. Verse 37 says he immediately left John the Baptist and followed Jesus. Verse 39 (NIV) says, “So they went and saw where he [Jesus] was staying and spent the day with him.”
So Andrew became acquainted with Jesus and was convinced He was the Messiah. Becoming the first disciple of John the Baptist and later the first apostle of Jesus. And what is the first thing this first apostle does? John 1:41–42 (NIV) says, “41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus.”
Andrew definitely understood the power of one. Which reminds me of a little poem.
Ten church members all in a line, one got an attitude and there were nine
Nine church members standing tall and straight, one got disillusioned, then there were eight
Eight church members on their way to heaven, one got discouraged then there were seven
Seven church members ready like wicks, one got burned and then there were six
Six church members well and alive, one got cancer, then there were five
Five church members to greet you at the door, one committed adultery and then there were four
Four church members as Holy as can be, one got self‑righteous and then there were three
Three church members, what will they do, one moved their membership and then there were two
Two church members with a lot of work undone, one stopped trusting GOD, then there was one
One disciple, sitting on a pew, called a friendly neighbor and then there were two
Two disciples, reaching out for more, they each called a friend and then there were four
Four disciples, at the church gate, welcomed the homeless and then there were eight
Eight disciples, with zeal unseen, talked more and more about Jesus and grew to sixteen
Sixteen excited disciples, with plenty of work to do, kept serving others, then there were thirty‑two.
32‑64‑128‑256, with the dedication of ONE, there's NOTHING God cannot fix!!!
Andrew couldn’t preach like Peter, but he did what he could do. Which is point number one this week. Andrew’s life teaches us that we should do what we can to introduce people to Jesus. Encouraging them to follow Him. Which is what Peter and the many thousands who heard him preach did.
Probably a few months later, after Jesus had begun his ministry in Jerusalem where He cleansed the temple and stirred up the hostility of the religious leaders against him, He returned to Galilee and eventually made his way to Capernaum. Andrew had returned home by now and was busy on the Sea of Galilee doing what paid the bills when he encountered Jesus again. Matthew 4:18–20 (NIV) records what happened next. “18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ 20At once they left their nets and followed him.”
This was when they left their lucrative jobs as fishermen for a more permanent and full time discipleship with Jesus. But even here near the beginning of his story, Andrew was already so much in the background that Luke’s parallel account in chapter 5 doesn’t even mention Andrew was there. He received no recognition, and never sought it. But that never stopped Andrew from courageously following Jesus. Matthew 4:20 confirms that he and Peter “at once left their nets and followed him [Jesus].”
Andrew played the role of best supporting actor. Behind the scenes. Thoughtfully but decisively encouraging others to follow Jesus. And because he did, he was able to see the value of little things. As our video clip reminded us earlier.
Time passed and now it was just before Passover. Which meant it was precisely one year before Christ would be crucified. It was nearing time to eat and bread would be the object lesson so Jesus made it clear to the disciples in John 6 that He wanted to feed the multitude. So Jesus asks Philip where they could buy bread. And in Matthew 14:15, Philip replies something like this, “We’re too far away from a grocery store and even if we weren’t, they’re all closed by now already.”
Jesus’ request undoubtedly sounded unreasonable to him. And it’s at that point, that Andrew speaks up. He simply says in John 6:9 (NKJV) says, “9‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish.’” The disciple in the background saw the boy in the background. And as was his custom, He brought one more person to Jesus. Young or old.
With Andrew by his side, Jesus blesses the food and miraculously feeds the entire crowd. Jesus performed the miracle. But Andrew, when no other disciple knew what to do, set the stage. We should do what we can to introduce people to Jesus. Point number one. Because the background can be the best ground. Which is point number two.
John 12:20–22 hammers this point home. Apparently, there were some Greeks who sought out Phillip and asked to see Jesus. Philip probably wondering if Jesus would really welcome Gentiles, goes to Andrew instead. He knew Andrew would introduce anyone to Jesus! John 12:20–22 (NIV) says, “20Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ 22Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.”
It didn’t matter to him where they were from or who they were. Andrew wanted everyone to know Jesus! In fact, Andrew eventually introduced more people to Jesus than any other apostle. Now don’t get me wrong, Peter probably baptized more people. At Pentecost alone, Acts 2:41 says following Peter’s sermon 3,000 people were baptized and added to the church. But no apostle in Scripture is mentioned as often individually introducing more people to Jesus than Andrew. Why? Because he understood the power of one.
Like my next door neighbor when I was living in Canton whose personalized license plate I borrowed as an illustration for this sermon. It reads, “Won x one.” And it means, Jesus won her heart and life. And because He did, she wants others to know Him too.
Andrew understood the power of being “Won x One.” Because he was the first one to follow John and the first one to follow Jesus. In John 1, Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. Someone like all the other Jews around him. In John 12, he brings Greeks to Jesus. Someone not like all the other Jews around him. Making him the first foreign missionary long before Stephen was stoned and Paul took the Gospel to the Gentiles. And with the median age of the church in North American going from 58 to 62 in the last 12 months, I think we need more missionaries to America like Andrew than ever before! Churches are full of people in the background relying on people in the spotlight to do all the fishing of men. But we’re not asking you to be someone you’re not. But whoever you are and whatever you’re like, we are asking you to be a more active you. A more urgent you. A more creative you. We need missionaries to America! We need people to see the wisdom in introducing people to Jesus first!
You get them connected to Jesus, it won’t be long till they’re connected and stay connected to your church. That’s the way it works. Keep doing it the other way around, especially in the 21 st century, and it won’t. The median age of the church will just keep going higher and higher. But plase note: our rationale for ordinary outreach comes not from celebrity pastors of 21 st century mega churches, but from 1 st century followers of Jesus like Andrew who, even in the background, lived a life of urgency and priority. He did what he could do. Personally introducing more people to Jesus than anyone else. This is not an unorthodox evangelistic methodology. It is the first and single most effective method in the 1 st and 21 st century.
As far as we know, Andrew never preached to multitudes or founded any churches. He never wrote any books of the Bible and isn’t mentioned in the book of Acts. In fact, the Bible does not record what happened to Andrew after Pentecost. Whatever role he played in early church history, he remained where he was, behind the scenes, quietly doing what he could do. Point number one. Because the background can be the best ground. Point number two. All because he knew how precious people are to Jesus. Which is point number three.
Years after the resurrection of Jesus, the ancient church historian Eusebius says Andrew took the gospel north. One account says he ended up in Greece, near Athens where he introduced the wife of a provincial Roman governor to Jesus—which infuriated her husband. He demanded that his wife recant her devotion to Jesus and she refused. So the governor ordered those who crucified Andrew to lash him to a saltire, or X-shaped cross, instead of nailing him to the cross in order to prolong his suffering.
According to Mark 15:25, it was the 3 rd hour when they crucified Jesus—or 9:00 AM. According to Matthew 27:45–50, it was the 9 th hour when he died—or 3:00 PM. So Jesus spent 6 hours on the cross. Andrew, by most accounts, hung on the cross for two days, encouraging everyone passing by to repent and follow Jesus.
Peter served a lifetime in the spotlight. Andrew served a lifetime in the twilight. But as different as they were in their spheres of influence, they both met the same fate as their Savior. Crucifixion on a cross. Andrew courageously remained faithful on his for two days! Faithful to the very end. And because he was, Revelation 21:14 says his name along with the names of the other faithful apostles will be inscribed on the foundations of the walls of the New Jerusalem in heaven.
Andrew experienced meaning of these words. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Andrew was the first one to follow Jesus. But not the last. He lived and died introducing people to Jesus. He did what he could do. His life teaches us that by God’s grace, we should do the same thing. Because the background can be the best ground. And because all people are precious to Jesus. Aren’t you glad that with God’s help, anyone can be won by one?
Based primarily on content found in John MacArthur’s Twelve Ordinary Men pp. 61–75.