Andrew and the Lord Jesus (Jn. 1:35-39; Mk. 1:14-18)
Andrew is first introduced to us as a disciple of John the Baptist who, along with another unnamed disciple (probably the apostle John), heard John the Baptist identify the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God. It isn’t clear what they would have understood by that title, but they evidently recognized John’s ministry as preparatory and as finding fulfillment in the One before them, so they left John and followed Jesus.
Jesus asked them, “What do you seek?” This is the first recorded question of His ministry and one He might well put to us: What do we seek? Some look for wealth, power, and pleasure; some even hope to find health, wealth, and happiness in following the Lord Jesus. However, Andrew and his companion were motivated by a higher desire: “Rabbi, where are You staying?” They addressed Him respectfully as Rabbi or Teacher, expressed their desire to be with Him and learn from Him, and, at His invitation, they spent the rest of the day in His company.
Immediately, Andrew found his brother Peter and announced that they had found the Messiah. He was looking for the One promised in the Old Testament and came to some appreciation of the Lord Jesus as God’s anointed prophet, priest, and king.
In this way, Andrew was first brought into a relationship with the Lord Jesus, which led to a deeper knowledge of Him. But this wasn’t the only occasion on which he followed Jesus. Other disciples were added to the group and accompanied Jesus, initially in Galilee and then in Jerusalem. On their return to Galilee (Jn. 4:3), Andrew and Peter apparently went back to their fishing until the imprisonment of John the Baptist signaled the commencement of the Lord’s public ministry in Galilee (see Jn. 3:24 and Mk. 1:14). Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea when Jesus approached and invited them to follow Him and to become fishers of men. “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
Andrew was initially called beside the river Jordan in Judea and he forsook John the Baptist: that was a call to be with the Lord and to know Him. Then he was called by the Sea of Galilee and he forsook his fishing: that was a call to serve Him. This is consistent with the Lord’s twofold purpose in appointing the twelve: “that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (Mk. 3:14). It is also a reminder of how we are called to come to the Lord Jesus, to have fellowship with Him, and to get to know Him. That is a priority. But at the same time, we are also called to be ambassadors for Christ, representing Him and serving Him.
Andrew and Simon Peter (Jn. 1:40-42)
Because he was one of the first two disciples to follow the Lord, Andrew became known as the protokletos (the first called). However, after following his own introduction to Jesus, Andrew found his brother Peter and brought him to Jesus. In the years that followed, Andrew invariably stood in Peter’s shadow:
- Peter’s name occurs 97 times in the Gospels, 58 times in Acts, and 7 times in the remainder of the New Testament; Andrew’s name is found only 11 times in the Gospels (Mt. 4:18; 10:2; Mk. 1:16; 1:29; 3:18; 13:3; Lk. 6:14; Jn. 1:40; 1:44; 6:8; 12:22) and once in Acts (Acts 1:13).
In 6 of the 12 references to Andrew, he is described as Peter’s brother.
Peter’s name comes ahead of Andrew’s in 7 of the 8 places where they are mentioned together or as part of a list (the exception is in Jn. 1:44).
Only once is Andrew referred to with no mention of Peter (Jn. 12:22).
Andrew was not part of the inner group which consisted of Peter, James, and John; only once is he mentioned together with these three (Mk. 13:3).
Andrew, as the protokletos, could have resented his brother being so much more prominent than himself, but there is no suggestion of any jealousy or complaint. He illustrates what brotherly love is like and how we should express it within the family of God: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10); “Love does not envy… does not seek her own” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
Andrew and a young lad (Jn. 6:8-9)
Another incident in which Andrew figured was when Jesus challenged the disciples about giving food to the multitude. They were in a desert place, the day was far spent, and the disciples didn’t know what to do, but Andrew said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” He doesn’t sound too confident, but he does bring the matter to the Lord. Jesus might have agreed that it wasn’t very much, but He didn’t ignore what they had. He took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed the food to His disciples. He began with what they had and multiplied it by His power to alleviate the need.
It is not the quantity of our resources that counts because, ultimately, all our resources are inadequate. But the Lord doesn’t expect us to be sufficient; He desires that we should be available. God uses weak things for the accomplishment of His work so that there is no place for human pride and He receives the glory (1 Cor. 1:31).
Andrew and some Greeks (Jn. 12:20-26)
During the Lord’s last week in Jerusalem, some Greeks told Philip that they would like to see Jesus, and “Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.” On each occasion in which Andrew is described as acting independently of Peter, he was bringing people to the Lord Jesus: first his brother, then the lad with five loaves and two fish, and now some Greeks. The Lord challenges us in this respect: “You shall be witnesses unto Me” (Acts 1:8). Our mission is not to promote a religion or to invite people to join a church but to introduce people to Him.
We’re not told whether these Greeks actually met Jesus at this time. We are told how the Lord took this opportunity to explain to Andrew and Philip what was necessary for Gentiles such as these to have a relationship with Him: “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” To be glorified, He had to die; having died, it was inevitable that He be glorified. It would happen in His crucifixion because there the excellence of His person would be most clearly seen: His love, His holiness, His obedience, etc. Moreover, it would happen in His exaltation because His Father raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory at His right hand. And it would happen also in the church in that He is being glorified among the nations as men and women from around the world come to recognize who He is and what He has done. Glory is attained in the context of His utter submission to the Father’s will, even to the point of death.
The Lord went on to point out that the same principle applies in our lives: “If any one serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” Andrew followed and, according to tradition, that led to missionary service in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and southern Russia. Eventually, Andrew’s service led to martyrdom on a saltire (an X-shaped) cross, as he considered himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus.