February 16, 2009

Ordinary Joes, Part 4 – Andrew, the Facilitator

Pop Quiz. Who was the very first follower of Jesus? John, the beloved disciple? No. Peter, the preacher? You’re getting warmer. Actually the answer (as I am sure you guessed from this article’s title) is Andrew, Peter’s brother. He had apparently been attached for some while to John the Baptist (John 1.35-39). But when John proclaimed that Jesus, his cousin, was indeed “the Lamb of God” … Andrew did what each of us should do. He left off following all other teachers and began following Jesus!

Soon after, Andrew began doing what he is now famous for – bringing people to Jesus. It started (John 1.40-42) with his own brother Simon (whom Jesus re-named Peter). And we all know how much God eventually accomplished through. So imagine, for a moment, the significance of Andrew’s initial invitation to his brother: “We have found the Messiah.” How much impact did those words, from God, through Andrew’s lips, have on world history? 3,000 people, on the day of Pentecost, could have thanked Andrew for bringing his brother to Jesus. And so could untold thousands more who have benefitted from Peter’s preaching and writing … and from his likely being Mark’s main interviewee as he composed his gospel. The impact of Peter is incalculable. But it all started, humanly speaking, with his brother bringing him to Jesus!

Now if you or I brought someone of the magnitude of Peter (or Spurgeon, or Whitefield, or Wesley, or Piper) to Jesus … we could die happy, feeling we’d accomplished a life’s work. But Andrew didn’t stop bringing people to Jesus. Over in John 6, the disciples had run into a little dilemma … this one of a more temporal nature. 5,000 men hungry and isolated in the countryside. Where to get enough food, in such a remote place, for so many people? Andrew’s friend Philip surmised that it would cost 9 months’ wages to feed the whole lot of them (v.7). But Andrew wasn’t deterred. He found a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish and (you guessed it) brought him to Jesus (v.8-9)!

Now Andrew wasn’t at all sure that the boy’s food would make even a dent in the shortage (see v.9b). And we could scold him for his unbelief. But at least he brought the boy! ‘It’s not much, to be sure’ he must have thought. ‘But maybe if I can just get him to Jesus, it will all work out.’ And we need to learn to think that way. There are people all around us with problems – both physical and spiritual – that seem (to us, anyway) far too messy to ever be untangled. But maybe if we can just get them to Jesus … just maybe. Know anyone like that? And have you brought them to Jesus … in person and/or in prayer?

Andrew’s story continues in the 12th chapter of John. There Philip was approached by a group of Gentiles who (for reasons we aren’t told) wanted to meet Jesus. But, whatever the reason, Philip decided to help them out. And who did he enlist to help him in bringing these folks to Jesus? The facilitator extraordinaire – Andrew! And, when they came, Jesus preached His own sacrificial death to them … making them some of the few Gentiles to hear the gospel from the Lord’s own lips! Now unlike the other two stories, we do not know the ending to this one. What happened to those Gentiles? Did they believe or not? We’re not sure. But that’s not what is most important, really. What is important is that Andrew was faithful; that Andrew brought them; that Andrew gave them an opportunity to believe. And that is what is important for you. You cannot guarantee yourself the evangelistic success of a Peter. But you can ensure that you will be as faithful as his lesser-known brother. You cannot ensure that anyone will ever believe. But you can make sure that someone brings them to Jesus so that they have the chance! Will you do that … starting with your own children, parents, siblings, classmates, co-workers, and friends … and working your way out to the nations?

To inspire you, listen to the end of Andrew’s story. According to various historians, Andrew eventually preached in modern Russia, Ethiopia, and Greece. Eventually he was crucified for Jesus’ sake on an X-shaped cross. He hung there gasping and dying for two days … all the while urging passers-by to repent and believe. And so he died in just the same way as he had lived ... bringing people to Jesus. What about you?

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