Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 10:2c “. . .and Andrew his brother;. . .”
Andrew, the patron saint of ushers, was always ushering people into Jesus’ presence. Andrew has prominence in the Bible on three occasions. Each time he is bringing someone to Jesus. First, Andrew brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus (John 1:41). Families share things with each other. Thus, it’s no surprise Andrew wanted to share the most important discovery of his life with Peter.
Fortunately, Simon responded positively to Andrew’s invitation. This was good. They needed each other. All the Apostles endured intense persecution and trouble. Jesus taught them from the first the value of not going alone. Matthew lists the Twelve in pairs, a reminder Jesus sent them out two by two (MK 6:7).
The Twelve needed to know they could not make it on their own. We can’t either. Lone Ranger, maverick, do-it-on-your-own Christianity is a North American aberration, and probably does much to explain the low level of our spirituality.
Two are better than one (EC 4:9ff), for if one falls, the other can lift him up. The enemy is readiest to attack any who seek to stand alone, who have no one standing nearby ready to run to the rescue. Going it alone is dangerous.
Paul, maybe the third greatest man ever, considered loneliness a huge trial. When God healed his companion Epaphroditus, Paul considered it a huge personal blessing for himself (PH 2:27). Paul walked from Athens to Corinth by himself. It was one of the few times he was all alone, and he later looked back on the event, remembering it as a time when he was weak, afraid, and trembling (1 Cor. 2:1).
John the Baptist, history’s second greatest figure, began to doubt Jesus when alone in prison. The same lips that boldly declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (JN 1:29 NAS) later quiveringly asked, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (MT 11:3 NAS).
Jesus, the greatest of all, sought companionship. He called the Twelve to “be with Him” (MK 3:14). When He pressed the issue of commitment, and the crowds left Him, we can feel the hurt in Jesus’ heart as He makes the plaintive cry, “Will ye also go away?” (JN 6:67). He “loved them to the end” (JN 13:1 NAS), called them “friends” (JN 15:15), and as the cross loomed near, expressed His gratitude, “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials” (LK 22:28 NAS).
I recently perused a new book on depression, my old nemesis. I found it profound that the book’s first chapter was devoted to the absolute necessity of having someone be your partner as you seek to recover from depression. This was true of my life. Ruth had to walk beside me and coax me out of the darkness.
We can not make the trek to spiritual success alone. This is why small groups in our churches are extremely important. We need one another. As a pastor, I am deeply concerned that on Sundays we run 1000 more in worship than we do in small groups. This is not good. The mountain of spiritual success is not meant to be climbed on highways by crowds, but hiked on trails by a few at a time.
Second, Andrew brought to Jesus the boy who had five loaves and two fish (John 6:8-9). It is interesting to note, Peter and the story of this boy with five loaves and two fishes eventually became more famous than the name of Andrew.
For some, their greatest accomplishment, their highest measure of success, is someone else they brought to Christ. Who won Billy Graham, Dwight Moody, and Charles Spurgeon? Mordecai Ham, Ed Kimball, and an unknown Methodist layman may not mean much to us, but great is their reward in Heaven.
My dad loves to tell others how big my church is. I remind him, he led me to Christ and thus gets credit in Heaven not only for all he does, but also for all I do. I will never be able to surpass his Heavenly reward. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of the seemingly lowly role of quietly bringing others to Jesus.
We all need to learn the lesson in humility Andrew had to learn. A follower of John the Baptist, Andrew was godly before he met Jesus, was one of the first to follow Christ, and was first to proclaim, “We have found the Messiah” (JN 1:41).
Yet, as time went by, Andrew had to deal with living in the shadow of Peter, James, and John. It’s tough to be eclipsed by someone else. It’s much easier to weep with those who weep than to rejoice with those who rejoice. We have no reason to doubt Andrew struggled with this transition. It is likely he participated in the debates over which Apostle was the greatest, but finally he came to terms with his secondary position. He learned to care more for the Lord’s cause than for his own fame, and thereby became a role model for all who gladly labor in humble positions. His humility was genuine, not an excuse for doing nothing, but a willingness to take a less prominent role. Christina Rossetti’s poem fits Andrew:
Give me the lowest place;
Or if for me the lowest place is too high,
Then make one more low
Where I may sit and see my God and love Him so.
Every leader depends on Andrews. They are the backbone of every church. Second’s missions and ministry revival would crumble to dust without Andrews.
Third, Andrew brought to Jesus the Greek delegation (John 12:20ff). God-fearing Gentiles who grew sick of the hopelessness and moral squalor of their own pagan religions were often attracted to the monotheism and high ethical standards of Judaism. A group of Greek seekers who had come to Jerusalem for Passover heard of Jesus and requested an audience with Him. Andrew’s willingness to accommodate them proved his lack of prejudice. I have lately been lamenting the slow response of USA Christians to the AIDS epidemic in southeast Africa. This last Tuesday night I shared my concern with one of the leaders of our International Mission Board. He reminded me of a painful truth. We have made progress in ethnic matters, but much latent racism still lingers among us. I felt like someone had stabbed my chest. On Wednesday night, twenty-four hours later, at our Vacation Bible School parents night, I saw on our platform steps a precious first grade girl who, while waiting for the rest of the choir to get in place, took the hand of the girls on each side of her and playfully began swinging them. The girl on her left was white, the one of her right was black. The girl in the middle seemed clueless about the difference. I was touched by the scene. As our children’s minister, Ann Frieze, says, “The impromptu innocence of a child is wonderful to behold.”
Prejudice is not innate. It has to be learned. Parents, I implore you, don’t poison the well. Forbid ethnic jokes or slurs in your home. I’m thankful my parents never let racism, even when seeing race riots on TV, be part of our family life.
Andrew served out his days on earth faithfully, retaining to the end his lack of prejudice. Tradition says he preached in south Russia and in Greece. Maybe his helping the Greek delegation is what put Greece on his heart. In both places, Russia and Greece, Christianity achieved phenomenal success. The one who always wanted to bring others to Jesus would be proud to know of the millions in those two countries who came to Jesus as a result of the trail he blazed.
Andrew the Usher was ushered into Jesus’ presence by way of a martyr’s death. In Achaia, his persecutors took a rope, a common tool in Andrew’s trade of fishing, bound him to a cross shaped like an X, and crucified him. His demise was inglorious, but his legacy glorious–need others, be humble, show no prejudice, try to bring people to Jesus. What an epitaph! Andrew lived a life worth imitating.