This month, we look at the “first” apostle, Andrew. Andrew is called the first disciple because he is the identified as the first one summoned by Jesus into service.
Andrew was Peter’s brother and partner in the fishing business. In the Gospel of John, he was identified as a disciple of John the Baptist before receiving the call from Jesus. Andrew is the great introducer: in John 1:40-41, he invites his brother Simon to meet Jesus. Andrew brings the boy with loaves and fish to meet Jesus (John 6:8-9); and brings a number of Greeks before Jesus at their request (John 12:20-22).
Life and death:
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Andrew went on missionary journeys throughout the East. Whereas Peter symbolically came to represent the church of the West (Rome), Andrew came to represent the church of the East (Constantinople). He taught in Byzantium, Thrace, Russia, Epiros, and Peloponnese.
Andrew was crucified for his faith. He was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross by the Proconsul Aegeates, who was infuriated because of the conversions of members of his family. Even on the cross, Andrew taught the people and exhorted them to endure temporary suffering for the kingdom of heaven. Soon after Andrews death, Aegeates realized his error and committed suicide.
Several centuries after his death, some of his relics were taken to Scotland by a missionary. The missionary set up in Fife; but that place is now known as St. Andrews best known for its golf course and club. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. The Scottish flag is a tribute to Andrew with a white cross on a blue background.
Several strange stories are attributed to the life of the Andrew. In Bithynia, he did what the apostles did when they first presented a gospel in a city: he taught and healed. He was credited with driving away wild beasts that bothered them but that’s not the strange part. While he was there, those who resisted his words became possessed and they gnawed at their own bodies until Andrew healed them.
Another strange story: in one city the people beat Andrew much like Paul’s experience and they broke his teeth, cut his fingers, and left him to die in a dung heap. According to legend, Jesus appeared to him and healed him, and told him to be of good cheer! When the people saw him the next day, they were amazed and they believed.
Andrew reminds us that our job is to introduce others to Jesus. We do not save anyone, we share the joy we have received by grace through faith in Jesus with others. Three examples in Scripture illustrate the variety of ways Andrew introduced others to Jesus:
1) those curious about God and seeking the Messiah generally (Peter);
2) those whom God will use for His glory (the boy with the fish and loaves); and,
3) those who seek Jesus specifically (the Greeks).
Andrew is not portrayed as a great debater. He was a teacher and a living example. The power of his witness was more about what God was doing through him than what he accomplished by himself.
Often times, this is the case with Christians. There are people who serve as great examples without ever having any real knowledge of the impact they are having on others. Their faithful lives their struggles, their fulfilled and unfulfilled hopes, and their often-unconscious acts of kindness to others leave an indelible mark on the lives of others they touch. Scripture calls these people “a great cloud of witnesses.”
Is it possible that God is using you to transform the lives of others without your awareness? When you choose in that moment to reach out to help another instead of minding your own business, have you been an example to someone else who simply sees you do it? Only God knows. You may have just introduced someone to Messiah, you may have been used by God for His glory, and you may have shown someone Jesus.
Andrew reminds us that our job is to introduce others to Jesus.
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