Last Sunday we began a new series called “The 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ”. The stated purpose of this study is to learn some basic information about each of the apostles and to allow their experiences to strengthen our personal relationships with Jesus. Personally, I think that all Christians should be able to name the 12 apostles from memory, and I hope that by the end of this series all of us can. Consider that to be a challenge from the pastor....
Before we get started, let’s take a moment to compare the 12 apostles of Jesus with the 12 tribes of Israel. In the Old Testament, the 12 tribes of Israel were the descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob. They represented the people of God during the Old Testament, during the time of the old covenant. The 12 apostles were the first people to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore were the founders of the Christian church. They represent the people of God during the New Testament who live under the new covenant. Therefore, when coupled together, the apostles and the tribes collectively represent the people of God for all time.
We began this collection of messages last week with an overview of Peter, perhaps the most well-known of the apostles. While there is an abundance of information written in the Bible about him, there is much less about his brother Andrew. That said, there is still a lot we can learn about the apostle Andrew. He will be our focus today.
I. GENERAL INFORMATION
Andrew is the only name by which this apostle is called in the Bible. The name Andrew derives from the Greek and means “manly”. Andrew is sometimes referred to in other sources as the protokletos, or the “first called”. As stated earlier, Andrew and Peter were brothers, the sons of Jona. They were both born in Bethsaida of Galilee, but lived in Capernaum as adults. Andrew worked with his brother Peter as a commercial fisherman, along with their business partners James and John. Andrew was originally a disciple of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. It was the teaching of John the Baptist that initially led Andrew to follow Jesus.
God’s Word reveals that Andrew was quite enthusiastic about Christ. He excitedly wanted to tell others, especially those closest to him, about Jesus. Andrew was also inquisitive, wanting to learn and know more about those things which confounded him. He was quite resourceful and showed the ability to find quick and clever ways to solve problems. Andrew, like the other apostles, showed tremendous faith by leaving their former lives behind to follow Jesus and courageous resolve to preach the gospel after He’d gone.
Andrew did not write any books of the Bible, though he is specifically mentioned in the gospels and in Acts. There are a few early church writings that bear his name, such as the Acts of Andrew, but they were not and are not considered to be inspired works. As such, they cannot be fully trusted as credible or accurate. The only source of absolute truth is the Bible itself.
II. HIS MINISTRY WITH JESUS
Andrew was one of 4 fisherman who Jesus called to follow Him and become “fishers of men”. He officially became an apostle on the the same day as Peter, James, and John (Mark 1:16-20). However, prior to this Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus first came onto the scene, John the Baptist recognized and proclaimed Him to be the Lamb of God. Andrew was intrigued and curious, so he (along with another one of John the Baptist’s disciples) followed Jesus for a day or so and even went to where the Lord was staying. During this time Andrew became thoroughly convinced that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Overjoyed, Andrew hurriedly went and found his brother Peter, then brought him to meet Jesus (John 1:35-42). Therefore, both Peter and Andrew were somewhat acquainted with Jesus before they were later chosen to be His apostles.
Following His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, there were some Greeks in the city who had come for the Passover feast and wanted to met Jesus. They are generally believed to have been Gentiles, not converts to the Jewish faith (proselytes). These men first approached Philip, who in turn told Andrew. Then both Andrew and Philip carried their request for a meeting to Jesus. The Bible doesn’t ever explicitly say whether or not Jesus personally met with them, but His response to Andrew and Philip indicated that anyone - either Jew or Gentile - could serve and/or follow Him (John 12:20-26).
One day while Jesus was teaching a large crowd of 5,000 people, He noticed that they were hungry and decided to feed them all. The apostles didn’t have enough money to buy food for everyone, and were at a loss for what to do. Andrew found a young boy among the crowd who had 5 small loaves of bread and 2 little fish. Andrew doubted that such a tiny amount of food would be sufficient, but Jesus took the boy’s lunch and blessed it. Then He began to distribute it, and the bread and fish miraculously multiplied so that everyone had plenty and there were even 12 baskets of leftovers (6:1-13).
Although Andrew was not part of Jesus’ “inner circle” of apostles, he did get to join them for a private meeting on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3). Andrew was also present with the apostles during the Last Supper, at Jesus’ arrest, and for several of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ including the Great Commission. There are only a few times in the Bible when Andrew is mentioned specifically; nevertheless he was certainly with the Lord frequently during Jesus’ earthly ministry.
III. HIS MINISTRY AFTER JESUS WAS GONE
Scripture does not say much about Andrew after the Lord’s ascension into heaven. He was present in the upper room with the apostles and other disciples when they chose Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13), but this is the only direct Biblical reference to him outside of the gospels. It is safe to assume he was present on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles. But after that, the details of his life are speculative and uncertain.
Tradition states that Andrew left Jerusalem and preached the gospel in Greece, Asia Minor, and Russia. It is widely believed that Andrew was crucified by the Romans on an X-shaped cross. Similar to his brother Peter, who requested to be crucified upside down, so also Andrew purportedly asked to be slain on an X-shaped cross because he felt unworthy to be martyred in the same way as Jesus.
It is interesting to think that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist prior to becoming an apostle of Jesus. He must have been very familiar with John the Baptist’s message of repentance which called the Jews to make way for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. His relationship with John the Baptist indicates that he was a religious man, even before meeting Jesus. This stands in stark contrast with some of the other apostles.
One of Andrew’s greatest attributes was his eagerness to make Jesus known. When Andrew realized who Jesus was, he raced to tell his brother. Andrew did not miss the opportunity to introduce his loved ones to Jesus. We would do well to follow his example. I wonder how many of us, myself included, have lost family members that we’ve never spoken to about the Lord. Perhaps some of us need to tell our relatives about the Savior we’ve met.
Whatsmore, Andrew appealed to Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles long before either Peter or Paul began preaching to them. In other words, Andrew was one of the very first who wanted the message of Christ to be shared with everyone - not just the Jews. He had no problem with introducing a bunch of Greeks to the Lord. Andrew realized that salvation isn’t reserved to an elite group of people, but rather is available to all. The church should be an open group, that welcomes anyone and everyone who comes seeking Jesus.
In our next message, we will discuss the first of another pair of brothers who were included among the apostles. Some of you might want to venture a guess, but I am going to make you wait to find out. It will be a surprise! Until then, may we all exhibit the enthusiasm of Andrew in our daily walks with Jesus.