Week 1: Andrew meets Jesus, brings others
Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
Texts: John 1:35-42, 6:5-9, 12:20-22; Romans 10:13-17
Beloved in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
John’s hopes for his Gospel are simple: he wants you to come to trust in Jesus as God’s Anointed One, and in that trust, find life in Jesus’ name. (John 20:31)
He claims from the start that Jesus is the face of the Triune God for you. In Jesus you see God’s heart, God’s truth, God’s life. To help you find abundant life in Christ, John tells stories which invite you to place yourself within them and experience Jesus yourself. Stories with rich characters, all who meet Jesus and are changed. Some find life; others reject it.
On Sundays and Wednesdays this Lent we’ll meet Jesus in these stories through the eyes and reactions of those people to see if we can also find abundant life in Christ now and forever.
Andrew is a wonderful beginning to this.
Unusually, we read from three chapters in one Gospel reading, to see the three key Andrew episodes. Andrew isn’t the best known of Jesus’ core leaders, the twelve. He’s a little higher in our recognition than say, Thaddaeus, but nowhere near as famous or known as big brother Peter.
But Andrew might be the disciple you really want to emulate. What we see in Andrew in these three little vignettes is enlightening, and encouraging. Even inspiring to you to find Andrew’s path to Jesus, and so find life.
When we meet Andrew, he’s searching for life from God.
Andrew and his friend John (who remains unnamed by the Evangelist) are actually disciples of John the Baptist. Two Galilean fishermen have apparently abandoned their elder brothers in the north and traipsed down around Judea to follow this desert prophet.
They’re searching for something. Because when their rabbi, John, points to Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” they immediately leave the Baptist and walk after Jesus. They go where he’s staying, and presumably listen to him.
Unlike some of the others in this Gospel, what Andrew sees in Jesus, how he believes Jesus is God’s life for him, God’s Messiah, we don’t know. But we know this much: Andrew is looking for life from God and goes out searching for it. He leaves his comfortable, known world, and risks much. He listens. Looks. He finds life in Jesus. And his life is changed forever.
But here’s a joy: Andrew then shares what he’s found.
This might be one of the greatest things about Andrew. He’s the one you need if you’re looking for Jesus. He first comes to his older brother Simon, and tells him he’s found the Anointed One. Clearly whatever he and John talked with Jesus about profoundly shaped Andrew’s faith and journey. He had to get Simon in, too.
Later, Jesus faces thousands who are hungry and tests his disciples to see if they understood yet what he was about. Andrew’s the one who brings someone forward. Anyone could have. But Andrew ran into a young boy with a small lunch. What Andrew thinks Jesus is going to do with it, who knows? But Andrew’s the guy who sees people and brings them to Jesus. And Jesus feeds thousands with that little lunch.
And when Greek-speaking Jews talk to Philip, looking for Jesus, Philip’s first move is to get Andrew. Anyone could have helped; Philip knew Andrew was good at bringing folks to Jesus. Helping others find life that Andrew knew.
Here’s why you really might want to emulate Andrew.
He’s not important or famous. He’s always in the background. Now, without Andrew does the great Peter even become a disciple? Do James and John? Can you imagine the twelve without the four Galilean fishermen?
But when the Gospels show Jesus taking key leaders with him in important moments, like the Transfiguration or the Garden of Gethsemane, it’s Peter, James, and John. Three of the Galilee four. Why not Andrew? Those three might not even be there without Andrew.
Maybe that’s just fine with Andrew. He knows he’s found life from God in Jesus. He’ll keep bringing people to Jesus to find life themselves, even if that means some of them outshine him, like his big brother. That makes him a wonderful model for the likes of you and me.
Andrew’s path of faith in Jesus is one you can actually do.
You can search with your life, your heart, even take risks and leave your comfort zones, to find God in Jesus. You can listen carefully to Jesus, and follow with your life, and watch for chances to bring others to see for themselves.
And you can share his humility and not worry about not being famous, or seen as important. You can just faithfully be behind-the-scenes, doing what Christ has called you to do. Being who you know you are in Christ. And making sure others can find what you’ve found. Abundant, full, life with God in Christ.
Paul wonders how anyone can know life in Christ if no one takes the time to reach them.
Andrew gets that. He’s the one who brings good news, who proclaims with his life and his grace and his hope and his kindness that he has found the Messiah. Who wonders if others might want to find that, too. Who says, “Come and see!”
You could be Andrew. What will you do with this life in Christ that you’ve found?
In the name of Jesus. Amen