Andrew: Humble Evangelist
I am an only child, which has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of being an only child is that there was no reputation forged by siblings for me to live up to (or to overcome, for that matter). I never had to hear my mother say such things as, “Why can’t you make good grades like your sister?” It must be difficult to grow up in the shadow of an older, more popular, and more noteworthy sibling.
How would you like to have been Simon Peter’s brother? Though it would have been an honor to be related to a man who ultimately fulfilled his nickname as a spiritual rock, I would imagine it was hard to be the young and impetuous Simon’s sibling. Simon did have a brother, named Andrew, and from all that we know about him from the New Testament, Andrew was not a particularly noticeable person. In John’s gospel he is introduced as “Simon Peter’s brother” (1:40), which indicates that Peter was much more widely known than Andrew.
What little information we are given about Andrew is impressive, however. In every instance he is mentioned in John’s gospel, Andrew is always bringing someone to Jesus. In the opening chapter of the fourth gospel, we are told that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When John identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” Andrew became a follower of Christ (1:35–37). Then Andrew “found first his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ ” (1:41), and later he brought his brother Simon to Jesus (1:42).
Andrew must have been hungry for truth. When the great prophet John identified Jesus, Andrew could have easily let carnal loyalty get in the way and have stayed with John. Instead, he immediately began to follow the Lord. This suggests that Andrew possessed a meek and humble spirit which would follow the truth no matter where it led. Not only that, although he was a novice disciple of Jesus, he immediately sought to bring someone else to meet the “lamb of God.” We must possess the same integrity that Andrew displayed to hold to God’s truth no matter what changes we may have to make. “Buy the truth, and do not sell it; Get wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Prov. 23:23). Further, if we know enough to decide to follow the Lord, then we know enough to bring others to the Lord, just like Andrew.
The second instance Andrew is mentioned is in connection with the feeding of the five thousand (John 6). When Jesus asked Philip how they were going to feed so many people, he responded by estimating how much money it would take to feed the crowd. Andrew, though, apparently scrambled into action. He brought a young boy to Jesus who had five loaves and two fish, but lamented, “But what are these for so many people?” (6:9).
After witnessing so many miracles, including the transformation of water to wine, I am not sure why the disciples did not take into account Jesus’ supernatural ability to feed the multitudes. Clearly, their faith was still in its infancy. But I am impressed with the fact that Andrew just didn’t stand around like the calculating Philip. He tried to find a solution to the problem, and he did all that he knew to do within the narrow range of his faith.
Despite the limits of Andrew’s understanding, the Lord took the food that little boy had with him, and with that food Jesus provided for the thousands who were hungry that day. Andrew did all that he knew to do by bringing that boy, and Jesus did the rest. God expects us to grow, but God can also use what we have to bring Him right now. “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
The final occasion where Andrew brings someone to Jesus is found in John 12. Among those who came to Jerusalem for the Passover were pilgrims John identifies as “Greeks” (12:20). These may have been proselytes, converts to the Jewish faith, or they may have been Gentiles who knew and feared the one true God. In any event, these devout men wanted to see Jesus, and they went to Philip to see if they could be introduced to the Lord. Perhaps they chose Philip because he had a Greek name, but for whatever reason he was chosen, Philip was evidently uncertain how to handle their request. Maybe he questioned whether Gentiles could approach the Messiah. So he turned to someone who could help: “Philip came and told Andrew” (12:22), and the two of them went to Jesus. Andrew didn’t have any trouble bringing people to Jesus, no matter where they were from.
The obvious application we can make from the life of Andrew is that we need to bring people to Jesus as well. We have been saved so that we can “proclaim the excellencies of His who called” us out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). And we learn from Andrew that all of those excuses about not knowing enough are invalid. Andrew trusted in Jesus, and he believed others should know Jesus. That was all he needed to know to bring people to Christ.
But a deeper lesson we can draw from Andrew has to do with what God can do with a humble servant. Peter surely receives more “press” in the New Testament, yet Peter came to Christ because of Andrew's invitation. Without Andrew, there would be no Peter. Through that one man Andrew brought to Jesus, thousands of Jews responded to the gospel on Pentecost (Acts 2) and a vista for the gospel was made to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Does Andrew deserve the credit for the countless thousands of Jews and Gentiles who came to Jesus? No, and neither does Peter. The Lord gets the credit for all of this, but it is encouraging to know what the Lord can do through one humble servant like Andrew.
“It is still the case that there is need for people like Andrew. Lots of them. The Lord raises up very few great leaders, but he calls many followers, people who will work humbly in lowly places and in this way set his great purpose forward. Few things are more important for the Christian than lowly service well done” (Leon Morris, Expository Reflections On The Gospel Of John, p. 49).