- Religion and Philosophy
A Bible Character Study - St. Andrew in the Bible
Who is Andrew of the Bible? Andrew is a native of Bethsaida in Galiliee, the son of John and the brother of Simon Peter. They were fishermen by occupation. He was first a disciple of John the Baptist, but later on followed Jesus after hearing John the Baptist testify that Jesus is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." He brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus, telling him that he had found the Messiah. After that, they both went back to their occupation until John the Baptist was imprisoned. Then, while fishing, Jesus called them to follow him, which they did without hesitation.
Though the mention of Andrew in the Gospel accounts is scarce compared to his brother Simon Peter, yet his is a life worth studying. He may not have been included in the inner circle of Jesus' disciples (Peter, James and John) but he was a saint* and an apostle whose character is to be admired. Let us study the few Scripture passages where we can get a glimpse of who Andrew really was.
* Saint (Heb qadosh Gk hagios meaning "godly ones" or "holy ones") - I use this word not in the sense of patron saint but in the biblical sense where all the saved of the New Testament era are called saints by virtue of their position in Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 6:3-4; 8:1; Eph. 1:3). Source: The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, 1988.
John 1:40-42 (New International Version)
40Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 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. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).
When Andrew knew about Jesus, the first thing he did was look for his brother Simon, introduce Jesus - the Messiah - to him and bring him to Jesus. Why did Andrew do that? What does his action tell us about his character?
Andrew was a man of action - he acted on his faith and on his love.
When he finally found the Messiah, he was so glad as if he struck gold. His faith and joy beckoned him to tell somebody about what he discovered. Don't we feel the same when we discover a secret or something great? We're dying to tell someone right away, right?
But why tell Peter? Andrew chose to share the amazing news to the one closest to his heart, the brother he loved. Why? With Peter, he did not have to pretend and apprehend. He can share his heart out. Peter may not believe him but in Andrew's point of view, he proved that he loved his brother by caring to show him the way to the Messiah.
How about us? Are we like Andrew? Do we have enough faith and love to take action?
John 6:8-9 (New International Version)
8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
At this time, a great crowd (numbering about 5,000) followed Jesus to hear him preach and since the day is almost over, he asked his disciples "Where can we buy bread for these people to eat?" Philip answered "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite."
Andew was a man with a positive outlook.
While the other disciples looked at the issue from a negative perspective, here was Andrew trying to look for a positive solution. He found a boy with five loaves of bread and two small fish. He certainly knew that the boy's meal was not enough to feed the crowd but he still brought the boy to Jesus. Maybe he remembered the miracle that Jesus did of turning water into wine at the Wedding in Cana, so he left the figuring out of how to feed the 5,000 out of the boy's little food to Jesus.
Because Andrew brought the boy to Jesus who offered the little bit he had, God was able to turn that little into much. There is a rich lesson for us to learn here. We should not focus on what we don't have. Instead, we should look at what we have, no matter how small it is, offer it to God and let Him use it for his good purpose. Moreover, too often we focus on the problem and not the solution. If we depend on what our big God can do, there's no problem that cannot be overcome.
John 12:20-22 (New International Version)
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.
This time, there were some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. They came and told Philip of their intention. Philip, in turn, told Andrew and both brought them to Jesus. Two questions came up in my mind. Why didn't Philip take the Greeks himself to Jesus? Why did Philip choose to bring them to Andrew?
Andew had the reputation of bringing men to Jesus.
In the above two passages, we already saw that Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. If he did not, we might not have had a Peter. He also brought the boy (take note not just the boy's lunch) to Jesus. If he did not, we might have missed the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000.
Now, Philip was hesitant to take the Greeks to Jesus, probably because of racial and religious prejudice. But he knew the disciple to go to - Andrew. Andrew seemed to have gained the reputation of bringing people to Jesus. Why? Because Andrew had already learned that Jesus was interested in people. No matter what they had to offer or where they come from Jesus loves them all just the same.
We may never become great evangelists but we can all cultivate the desire of bringing men to Jesus just like Andrew. Andrew truly lived by what Jesus had called him to be - to become fishers of men.