St. Andrew of the Lost and Found Department
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Andrew has the distinction of being the very first person in history to follow Jesus Christ. He and an un-named companion are disciples of John the Baptist. They have listened to John saying that One is coming who will be the Messiah.
I mentioned in a previous article that the 12 were not particularly religious. Andrew and his anonymous companion might be the two exceptions. He is looking for the coming of the reign of God in human affairs. He is a fisherman by trade. But he also finds himself among the supporters and disciples of John the Baptist.
Andrew Finds the Messiah
We are not sure how long he followed John, but there came a day different than all the rest. He would remember that day for the rest of his life. He was standing alongside John the Baptist when a stranger walked by. Andrew had never seen him before, but he is arrested, not by the man himself, but by John’s words. “Look! There is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world…. This is the one I have been talking about.” Jesus had come to be baptized, in spite of John’s reluctance. But Andrew and his friend know that something has come to a head. The Baptist is changed in the brief encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. The two disciples have the rest of that day and that night to think about this unusual occurrence.
Then the next day John is standing with the two of them, perhaps talking about the previous day, and they see Jesus again. He is just walking by. John repeats his words. “There he is. The lamb of God.” And the two men believe John enough to peel themselves away from John’s company, and start to follow Jesus down the pathway.
We do not know how long they followed at a discrete distance. Perhaps they were unsure of the thing that was happening. They had been following John, now they seem to be following this unknown man, perhaps down some garden path, for all they know.
Then Jesus stops and turns to face them. He knows they are there. “What are you looking for?” he asks them.” In our language it would be, “What’s up fellows? Why are you following me?” They are caught by surprise. They say rather lame-brainedly, “Rabbi, Where are you staying?”
Then a wonderful response follows. He does not give them the address of the bed and breakfast place he is staying at. He doesn’t ask “Who wants to know?” with suspicion marking his demeanor. His answer is an invitation, “Come and see.” It is an invitation to a walk together and a conversation, and they ended up spending the day together at the place Jesus was staying.
Andrew telling the story many years later would say, “It was about the 10th hour.” (That is, four o’clock in the afternoon.) Andrew knew that that was the moment when his life changed forever. He would always remember the day and the hour and the circumstances. From that day on, Andrew became a follower of Jesus instead of John.
Apparently, according to Mark 1:16 and Matthew 4:18, he still keeps his job on the boats, but some short time later Jesus walks up to the boats where he and three of his friends are cleaning their nets and he calls them to be his constant companions and begin the catching of people instead of fish. And Andrew who has had time to think through the issue, leaps at the opportunity to follow this man for the long journey of life.
Andrew was a seeker, who has found himself, and found someone to whom he will gladly give allegiance. He has found his true vocation. When he had allied himself with John the Baptist, he was following an instinct within to seek God and to find God. When he spent those hours in conversation with Jesus, the teeter totter was tipped, and he would tell the story, “I was found at 4:00 p.m. on that eventful day, and it made all the difference to the rest of my life.”
Andrew Finds Peter
But there is a second story inside this first story that tells us something more about Andrew. He finds not only himself and the messiah, but he finds his brother. When you find something really good, you want to share it. He went looking for his brother. And when he finds him, he says it right out. “We have found him! Found the Messiah! “ And then he not only seeks and finds, but brings his brother. What a catch for this fisherman. In catching Peter, he caught a whale.
It is interesting that Andrew would always be known as Simon Peter’s brother. If you asked him for his sense of identity, he would have told you, “I am a brother to Simon. I do have a Mom and a Dad and friends. But I have a brother. He has long been the most important person in my life. I am Peter’s brother and he is my best friend.” Andrew would always play second fiddle to Peter and never mind it. He was glad to be in the same orchestra as his brother. There is something in Andrew not competitive but cooperative. He loves his brother enough that he would like his brother to find the Messiah for himself.
Andrew finds a Boy
Andrew is a finder. In the 3 places where he is described in the New Testament, he is finding someone. He found Jesus. He found his brother. But that is not the end of his finding and his bringing.
It is not long before the crowds begin to gather around Jesus. Andrew may have been the first to follow Jesus, but he was not the last, and thousands now hang on to the words of Jesus. But on one occasion the hour has gotten late. The crowd is hungry and there are no places to find food close by. In the Gospel of John (6:8-9) Andrew steps forward. “Scuse me. There’s a boy here who has 5 barley loaves and two fish. They are not much, but… “
How does Andrew know about the boy? I think he has been talking to the kids. The parents are there listening to Jesus. But Andrew may have been running his own junior church program on the side. After all the kids can get a bit restless. His other co-disciples have a bad reputation when it comes to kids. They can’t be bothered. (Mark 10:13) But Andrew can find value in the people considered insignificant. He can see the possibilities in a boy and his lunch. He finds the boy and he finds a lunch, but what is simply great is found in the words he speaks to Jesus, “There is a boy HERE who has loaves and fish.” He didn’t steal the kid’s lunch. He didn’t confiscate it for the greater good. Instead, he brings the boy to Jesus who can offer the master his own lunch. For Andrew is not just interested in running the lunch department, he is interested in any and every one making their way to Jesus. So he finds and brings the boy with him into the presence of Jesus.
Andrew finds a Foreigner
There is one more story about Andrew. Believe it or not it is about finding and bringing. It is the week of the crucifixion. Jesus and his friends have arrived in Jerusalem. At the feast some foreigners have arrived. They are Greeks. They may have been converts to Judaism and have come to the feast to celebrate Passover, or they could have been just Greek tourists. As they have been milling with the crowds these Greeks have heard about Jesus. They approach one of the disciples. It is Philip. A disciple by the way with a Greek name. They say “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” And Philip is unsure of what to do. After all these people are Gentiles. They are outsiders. Foreigners. But he knows something about Andrew. So he brings them to his friend. And Andrew knows immediately what to do. Bring them to Jesus! After all what would you do with a brother, or a child or a foreigner? Turn them away? Not on your life! He knows that in Jesus Christ anyone can find themselves and find new purpose for living. (John 12:20-26.)
The story is told about a medical missionary in India some years ago. One of his patients was a woman who had come some distance who had cataracts on both eyes, that had made vision very cloudy. It was not a difficult operation and the woman left in a few days seeing clearly again. End of story. Not quite. A couple of weeks later a strange sight was observed. Winding their way out of the hills, was a file of people holding hands single file as they made their way to the clinic. Every one of them was a sight impaired person. And leading the column of sightless people was the woman who had had the cataracts removed. So glad she could see, she found and brought others that they too might see.
And when Jesus said to Andrew, “Come and see” He came and he saw, and it was too good not to share with a brother, with a child and even with a foreigner.
It looks like Jesus made a good choice that day, as well as Andrew!