When we talk about the Disciples of Jesus, a few names quickly come to mind. Peter, of course, was the impulsive, “all-or-nothing” disciple who walked on water, cut off a man’s ear, and then later denied knowing Jesus mere hours after promising Jesus that he would follow Him anywhere; even to death. Then there is John, the disciple who was known as, “The disciple whom Jesus loved,” and who was close enough to the Lord to rest his head on the Master’s shoulder. John is also known for writing one of the four Gospels; as is Matthew, known as “The tax-collector.” Thomas, of “Doubting Thomas” fame, is also well known, as of course, is Judas Iscariot, the Lord’s betrayer.
But then, there are the lesser known disciples; ones like Bartholomew, Thaddeus… and Andrew, who was Peter’s younger brother. We don’t know a whole lot about some of them, but if you ask me who my favorite disciple is, I will undoubtedly answer, “Andrew.”
Why? Because while the Bible only gives us a few details about Andrew, what amazing glimpses into his life they give us!
The book of John tells us that Andrew was originally a follower of John the Baptist, but when he heard John say the now-famous words, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” he turned and followed Jesus and ended up spending the day with Him. Then, Andrew led his brother Peter to Jesus, saying, “We have found the Messiah!” And the rest is history.
Andrew’s occupation was that of a fisherman. He and his brother Peter spent hours on and around the Sea of Galilee, doing all the things that come with being a fisherman; soaking and mending the nets and keeping them clean and untangled, keeping the boat in good repair, mending rips and holes in the sails, as well as the actual work of fishing.
There is some evidence that Andrew was very young when he first followed Jesus; maybe even a teenager. But despite his age, Andrew appears to have one purpose: leading people to Jesus. Let’s look at an example of that.
In the twelfth chapter of the book of John, in verses 20 and 21, a group of Greeks approached Philip, another of the disciples, and asked if they could see Jesus. I love how the next verse plays out: Philip goes and tells Andrew, and then together, Andrew and Philip take the men to Jesus. Why did Philip go to Andrew first, instead of straight to Jesus? Maybe he wasn’t sure if Jesus would really want to speak to these Gentiles. It’s also possible that the two were close friends, since they were from the same community. But for whatever reason, Philip came to Andrew… and it appears, that Andrew took them to Jesus.
Let’s look at another story. In John chapter 6, a group of five thousand people has gathered together. They are hungry and the disciples of Jesus are anxiously asking each other, “What will we do? How can we feed so many?” Jesus tells them, “Why don’t you give them something to eat?” The disciples are dumbfounded by His question. And now, where is Andrew in the midst of all this? We find out a few verses later, when he quietly speaks up and tells the Lord, “There is a lad here, with five loaves of bread and two fish.”
Don’t you love it? While the disciples are discussing “important” matters, Andrew is down there in the crowd somewhere, making friends with a little boy. I can almost see it now; the little fellow tugs on Andrew’s robe and says, looking up with trust in his eyes, “Here mister, you take my lunch… maybe Jesus will want it.” And Andrew, perhaps patting him on the head or squeezing his shoulder with a solid, work-roughened hand, says, “Come with me, son… we’ll take it to Him together.” And Jesus took the gift from a little boy and multiplied it to feed the entire multitude, with twelve baskets of leftovers besides!
In our lives, it’s often easy to be overshadowed by others. The bold, outgoing, talented ones who always seem to know what to do and are always at the front of the crowd. The “big brothers” who seem to get all the attention. But don’t let being in the background discourage you. Just remember, while others are busy being at the forefront, they may be too busy to do what faithful Andrew spent his time doing; reaching out to others, making friends, and leading them to Jesus. You may even be at the back of a few miracles!