Sometimes we are excluded. Ostracized. “not good enough.” At times it’s true, we aren’t. Not everyone is cut out for everything. Other times we end up simply being overlooked. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that every person to walk the face of the earth has been overlooked at some point in their life. Excluded. Not good enough. Passed over (and not the Exodus kind).
It’s good to know that the Bible is filled with such people who are looked over yet handle it beautifully. One of the most noteworthy is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. (Ironically, to say “noteworthy” even contradicts the fact that he is overlooked . . . he, in fact, isn’t “noteworthy,” but unworthy of having much time spent on him.)
In every instance I see Andrew in the New Testament, it is in the shadow of his brother Simon, who Jesus called Peter. I know so many siblings who live in the shadow of their (typically) older sibling. What’s interesting about Andrew is that Jesus had more than one go-to guy (Peter, James and John), yet Andrew didn’t make the cut somehow! Jesus called James and John the Sons of Thunder; Peter gets nicknamed “the Rock.” And Andrew’s cool Jesus-given name: nothing. In fact, he probably got the “aren’t you Peter’s brother? What’s your name again?” lines. How awful is that. Would want to make me hang my head in shame or put a paper bag over it!
Now here’s the weird part. If you read John 1:35-40, you discover that Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist and the one who pointed Jesus out to Peter in the first place! Most of us remember that spontaneous calling of Jesus to Peter and Andrew while they’re fishing in the boat and He simply says, “Follow me.” Luke 5:4-11 has that reference. But here in John it’s as if Andrew brings Peter to Jesus. Huh?
It’s not a contradiction in the least. Andrew stays with Jesus for a day, along with another disciple (who ironically remains unnamed – John 1:39). He then goes to Peter to tell him he’s found the Messiah. They go out fishing for the night and Andrew takes Peter towards where Jesus is. Jesus then uses their boat to preach and says to Peter, “So you are Simon, son of John?” (1:42). (And I’m not sure I’d want Jesus to say that to me – it doesn’t sound all too flattering!) What follows is Jesus calling them both to follow Him.
And all this through Simon. From there, Peter gets all the attention. Andrew is never mentioned as having done anything else significant. The early church fathers apparently called Simon Protokletos, which means “first called.” Yet it was as if he was the kid brother trying to jump up and see over Peter, James and John’s shoulders so he could be part of the “cool club.” Or did he care? Maybe he was satisfied with his role. He’s not the one to asks who will be next to Jesus right in the kingdom. Andrew was the man, in my opinion. He handled being second (fourth) fiddle like I can only wish I did. All Andrew wanted was to be near Jesus (Barclay, William. The Master’s Men, Pillar Books: Abingdom, 1959, 42 – really great small chapter I found half way through this writing).
And, oh yeah, two other Andrew instances. Remember that boy who had the five loaves and two fish? Guess who brought that boy to Jesus? You guessed it, Sir Andrew (Jn. 6:8). When the disciples lacked faith (Philip said it would be 200 days’ wages), Andrew had faith. Lastly, when Philip encounters Greeks wanting to see Jesus, it’s Andrew who brings them to Jesus (John 12:20-22). Jesus follows by indicating his death will produce fruit – what I take as salvation for both Jew and Greek.
The post-resurrection story of Andrew is even more amazing according to tradition. Preacher north of the Mediterranean and martyr in Patras (being crucified not with nails but with ropes left to die hungry and thirsty). A later story adds that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross. It is said that his coffin was brought to Constantinople during Constantine’s rule then a monk named Regulus in the eighth century claimed an angel spoke to him. The angel is said to have told Regulus to take three bones from Andrew’s body west (arm bone, tooth and kneecap). He wound up on Scotland where St. Andrew’s stands today, Regulus having been the first bishop there. More legends follow, but little is said of Andrew today.
He brought Peter to Jesus. He brought fish and bread to Jesus. And he brought Greeks to Jesus (it’s said that north of the Mediterranean he worked with “barbarians”). Leaders. Sustenance. The world. All brought to Jesus. All by a second fiddle. All without much mention in the least. Oh, to be like an Andrew. Obedience. Vision. Bitterless. Unresentful. Grace. Faith. Selflessness.
Just before he went to the cross, legend says Andrew prayed:
Hail, precious cross! Thou has been consecrated by the body of my Lord, and adorned with his limbs as rich jewels I come to thee exulting and glad. Receive me with joy into they arms. O good cross, thou has received beauty from our Lord’s limbs. I have ardently loved thee. Long have I desired and sought thee. Now thou art found by me, and art made ready for my longing soul. Receive me into thine arms; take me up from among men, and present me to my Master, that he who redeemed me on thee may receive me by thee.
And so I pray:
Lord, please help me, and those like me, who want their glory in being noticed to be put in our place by Andrews and others like him in this world. Thank you for using him as you did and may I (we) bring leaders to you that you may disciple them (like Andrew brought Peter), food and daily needs to you that you might feed those who need it and the world to you that you might save them. Lord Jesus, I love you. I want to be about You and not me, but I have the disease of wanting the wrong things even when I want you. Thank you for your sacrifice, example and love. To you be all glory, honor and praise with our lips, hearts, feed, hands, souls and minds. Amen.