Andrew was the first young man whom Jesus called to follow Him. What do we know about this disciple? He does not seem to have been an extraordinarily gifted or influential man, and we know that the Gospels do not mention much about him. Andrew must have been an average person like you and me. The Church is probably made up of mostly average people, of unassuming characters who have no shining talents or extraordinary education, so it makes a lot of sense for us to delve a little deeper into Andrew’s life. Although he never became famous, he still played a crucial role in the Kingdom of God.
Any mention of him usually reads: “Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.” Peter became famous. He was honored and developed into a well-respected missionary. Andrew stood in the shadow of his big brother. Peter played the starring role, with Andrew shyly supporting. Taking second place, always following where others lead, doing the grunt work while others organize and reap the praise afterwards—that is not easy. That takes grace.
Others may have overlooked Andrew, but Jesus looked deeper. In this quiet man, He recognized a burning desire for spiritual wealth and a strong interest in the promised Kingdom of God. After all, He knew that Andrew had given up a lot to come hear the young prophet at the river Jordan personally. It had surely been a big decision for Andrew to join his friend John on the long journey from their home of Bethsaida (Bethabara) on the Jordan. The baptist’s fiery sermons then pierced his heart to the core, moving him so deeply that he joined him without reservation. However, when the One appeared of whom his master said: “Behold, the Lamb of God,” he knew to whom his loyalty had to belong from that moment on. When Jesus later called him away from his fishing nets with the promise of making him a fisher of men, his search for God was ended, his longing fulfilled, and his life put on the right path. Jesus knew what motivated Andrew. He looked deeper.
After the first meeting with Jesus, Andrew immediately felt a calling. “He first found his own brother Simon” (John 1:41) and introduced him to the Messiah. This is what John reports, and every time he mentions Andrew again, Andrew appears as a friendly guide, directing others to Jesus. He was not only the first disciple but also the first to lead someone to the Lord.
As we follow Andrew’s example of witnessing, we should allow his method to inspire us too. He began at home. That is often the hardest place to talk about the Lord: with unsaved parents or children, with the scoffing uncle or the critical aunt, with the self-righteous grandfather or the frivolous cousin—that is where we need to start. Anyone who fails in this regard cannot expect success in the outside world. Our life and testimony at home provide the foundation on which fruitful evangelism among our neighbors at work, in public life, and among strangers is built. Andrew “first found his own brother Simon” (John 1:41).
Without Andrew, we would likely not have the Spirit-inspired Pentecost sermon. Peter later surpassed the one who led him to Jesus, and in a similar way, many an unknown soul has been the impetus for the salvation of one of the great servants in the Kingdom of God. Are we also looking for new “Simon Peters” in our circle and leading them to their places in the Kingdom of God?
On another occasion, we encounter Andrew on a sunny hill in Judea, where thousands had gathered to listen to the unparalleled sermons of Jesus. As the shadows grew longer, hunger pangs began to make themselves felt. How did Andrew know that the boy had brought along some food? I imagine that he had befriended him in the course of the long day. Andrew must have been someone whom adults and children alike instinctively trusted. Maybe he started a conversation with the boy, asking where he was from and whether his mother had wanted to let him go, or if he wanted to get to know the great prophet a little better. In any case, he soon knew of the bread and fish that the boy’s mother had probably packed for him. Andrew brought the boy to Jesus, saying: “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish” (John 6:9), and Jesus then used the boy’s scarce supplies to make a miracle happen.
Is that not the point of our children’s ministry within the family and at Sunday School? We want to lead our children, with their as-of-yet unrealized potential and dormant talents, to Jesus so that He can create beautiful and useful fruit from these promising seeds.
In John 12:20-22, we see this side of Andrew again. Foreigners had come and wanted to speak to the Master. Why did Phillip approach Andrew with this matter? Maybe he was already so practiced in making introductions that the others just left this task to him without a second thought. Anyone could be entrusted to Andrew. He consistently showed himself to be an engaged and helpful friend. Surely, he would have been an excellent gate keeper for the Church.
How did Andrew treat these Greeks? He could have tried to protect Jesus from the bothersome visitors, like the disciples did with the mothers who brought their children to Him. Maybe he could have put the men off until a more convenient time. Was caution not in order? After all, you can never know what hidden intentions these foreigners may have. However, had Andrew done so, he would have committed the so-called sin of silence. How often do we stay silent out of caution! We are frequently too shy to freely speak of what God inspires us to say. Andrew led the Greeks to Jesus. His primary concern was that the strangers hear something from the Master as well. Is that not the purpose of all mission work?
And so, Andrew, the average man, was indispensable to the Kingdom of God! What impact can a pastor have without the Andrews of the congregation? How successful can evangelization be if the Andrews do not bring people to the services?
There is a lot of hidden heroism in serving like Andrew. These heroes are not mentioned when the work and its leaders are honored, but the success of any undertaking and the yield of all work within the Church are dependent on them. We cannot leave all of the work to the pastor and then hold him accountable for the meager harvest. Anyone can be an Andrew, a quiet guide to Christ, and all who have experienced the Master as Andrew did will also receive the same promise: “I will make you fishers of men!” (Matthew 4:19)
Can you see how Andrew used every chance he got to lead people to Jesus? Keep an eye out for the opportunities God gives you as well!