Sermon: John 1:35-42
Pentecost 3 - June 10, 2018 – Rev. Steven J. Radunzel
Many of us know what it means to live in the shadow of another person. In other words there’s someone else in our life, close to us, who is better known, or more talented, or gets more attention. This happens often among siblings. An older brother may be a star athlete or more popular. A sister might be more talented or have more friends.
Today in our summer series on the twelve apostles we’re going to consider a disciple who really lived in the shadow of his brother. His name is Andrew. He was the brother of Peter, the best known of the disciples. Andrew was important simply because he was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. However, every one of you could tell me much more about Peter than you could about Andrew because scripture tells us far more about Peter than Andrew. And that’s an indication that Andrew just wasn’t as outspoken as Peter. He wasn’t the first to take action like Peter often did.
But Andrew was the one who first told Peter about Jesus. That in itself assures us that Andrew served a very important role as a disciple. Jesus used him with his gifts and talents and personality to do just what he wanted him to do for the kingdom of God even though the Bible tells us more about his brother Peter.
ANDREW, THE APOSTLE WHO LIVED IN THE SHADOW
OF HIS BROTHER
Peter may have overshadowed his brother in many things, but there’s one thing that Andrew did before Peter. He came to know Jesus before Peter did, and not just know him, but to believe that he was the Messiah.
Some of Jesus’ disciples were first of all disciples of John the Baptist. In those days in Judea and Galilee men who had a special interest in religion and in knowing God and serving him became disciples or students of a certain rabbi or religious teacher. John the Baptist probably had many disciples because we’re told that many people came to hear him preach and to be baptized by him. One of those disciples was probably John the writer of this gospel who also became a disciple of Jesus. Another one of those early disciples of John the Baptist was Andrew.
That tells us right away that Andrew was a man who was sincerely interested in knowing the Lord and serving him. He had to be sincerely
interested and serious about living a life faithful to God because John the Baptist’s teaching called for genuine repentance, faith in God, and a life that demonstrated that faith.
John the Baptist came preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His purpose was to prepare people’s hearts for the coming of Jesus. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” John shouted to the people. And remember how he called some of the religious leaders of Jerusalem a brood of vipers and snakes and challenged them to really repent of their sins and bring forth fruits of repentance and lives that really demonstrated that repentance and glorified God. Anyone who dared to be a disciple of John the Baptist, like Andrew, had to be a serious and genuine follower of the Lord.
But the day came when John the Baptist’s ministry came to an end because Jesus’ greater ministry was to begin. And at that point John began to point his disciples to Jesus. John pointed to Jesus and told the crowds and his own disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God!” To his disciples John the Baptist was really saying, “Now go and follow him. He’s the one you want to listen to and learn from now. He’s the Messiah.”
And so John, our gospel writer, and Andrew began to follow Jesus. In our text we’re told that Andrew and John were following Jesus literally, certainly watching everything he did and listening to everything he said. Jesus, who knew these two would now be his disciples, turned to them and asked, “What do you want?” Jesus didn’t really need to ask what they wanted. His question was really an open door. It was an invitation to come and follow him.
Andrew and John asked, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” And their question was not so much a desire to know where Jesus was boarding as it was a statement, “We want to go where you’re going. We want to follow you. We want to learn from you. We want to be your disciples.”
And Jesus told them, “Come, and you will see.” And they did. Andrew and John got to spend the whole day with Jesus. Can you imagine how thrilled they must have been? Remember Andrew and John believed that Jesus was the Messiah promised to Israel for centuries. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Now they got to spend a whole day with him.
How would you feel if you got to spend a whole day with Jesus? What would you ask Jesus? Andrew and John certainly had questions for Jesus, but I suspect they spent most of their time listening to Jesus teach them, like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet.
We don’t have Jesus here visibly to visit with face to face. But we still have the opportunity to spend time with Jesus every time we read or hear his word. We have more than enough of his words and actions written down for us to ponder for a lifetime. In these four gospels we have the words of Jesus, the Son of God and our Savior. They are the words of eternal life.
One of the primary reasons we gather together on Sunday to worship is to hear Jesus’ words. We show special respect for Jesus’ words when we stand for the reading of the gospel. And it’s a good thing we do. Not to overshadow Andrew anymore, but it was his brother Peter who said to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life.” And indeed he does. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to Father but by me.” Jesus is that Savior promised to Adam and Eve who would crush the head of the serpent, Satan. He died to atone for our sins.
If we had one day to spend with Jesus we would certainly listen intently. Andrew had that one day and then about three more years under Jesus’ teaching. We don’t hear as much about Andrew in those three years as we do about Peter. But he was important. In the lists of the disciples in the Bible he’s always listed with the first group of four, along with Peter, James, and John. On one occasion when Jesus told the disciples about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the final judgment it was the group of four disciples, including Andrew, who asked Jesus privately when all these things would happen. Andrew was one who wanted to learn. He wanted to know the truth.
He was also one who wanted to help. In that lesson about the feeding of the five thousand Jesus tested his disciples by asking, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” We read in that account, “Another of the disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Andrew himself was obviously aware that those loaves and fish couldn’t feed all the people. But his was the only suggestion. Even Peter didn’t have anything to say. And Jesus used the five loaves and two fish and miraculously fed 5000 men along with women and children.
But what we remember Andrew for especially is that he was the essence of an evangelist, a missionary, one who told someone else about Jesus. When Andrew had spent that day with Jesus we’re told in our text, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ And he brought him to Jesus.”
It’s highly significant that when John recorded these words he didn’t simply say that Andrew found his brother Peter and told him about Jesus. He wrote, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’” When Andrew had talked with Jesus, believed that he was the promised Messiah, and felt the power of his words and teaching, there was nothing else that he wanted to do than to find his brother and tell him the good news.
The Christian church needs more Andrews whose first desire is to have other people know that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior from sin. You may already be an Andrew who desires the salvation of others and has no hesitation to discuss religion or talk about Jesus to others. But how can more of us be like Andrew? How do we become a church filled with Andrews?
The Holy Spirit is the one who can make us more like Andrew. The Holy Spirit is the one who can fill our church with Andrews. It was the Holy Spirit who moved Andrew to immediately find his brother Simon to tell him about Jesus. He can do the same for us.
But if we’re going to have that desire, that missionary zeal that Andrew had, then we first of all need to understand and remember how much we need a Savior from sin. And the more we comprehend our sin the more we know that we and everyone else needs a Savior.
And like Andrew, we find that Savior in Jesus. Remember what John the Baptist told Andrew: “Look, the Lamb of God.” Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Jesus is the Savior from sin we and everyone else needs.
Every time we sit here and listen to God’s word, Jesus is asking us like he asked Andrew, “What do you want?” That’s his invitation to come and follow him. To come and see. To come and learn of him. To learn of his love, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. And when we really know the seriousness of our sin, when we really know Jesus and his love and mercy, then we will want others to know him too.
Andrew wanted others to know too. And he spent the rest of his life telling others about Jesus and bringing them to Jesus. Tradition says that Andrew especially preached among a people called the Sythians. They lived in the area that today would be southwestern Russia. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia.
History and tradition also tell us that Andrew died near Athens. He, like his brother, was crucified. He was crucified on a cross in the shape of the letter X, what we today call St. Andrew’s cross.
So may our prayer be, “God, teach us to be like Andrew. Let our first desire be to bring others to you.” Amen.