Lyman Beecher was a great theologian and scholar in his day. There is a story that one day someone asked him, “Mr. Beecher, what is the greatest thing anyone could do on this earth?”
He pondered the question, and he replied, “Friend the greatest thing anyone could do is not be a rocket scientist, or a medical doctor, or a world-wide leader such as a president, but the greatest thing anyone could ever do is to bring another human being to Jesus.
If that is true, Andrew may be the greatest of all the apostles because every time you see Andrew, he is bringing someone to Jesus. He was an everyday common man who fell in love with Jesus, and God took this man and used him in a mighty way.
Andrew’s trademark was that he always bringing people to Jesus. He was the brother of Peter. He was the one that brought Peter to Jesus.
What we know about Andrew is that he was a fisherman. He was a huge fan of the sport. Now fishing does take some skill! But you also have to have patience. He knows that the fish usually do not bite the very moment you throw the bait out into the water. They may have to wait and hour or two before the fish start to bite.
To win people to Christ also takes patience! We can only sow the seed and water the seed, but it is God that gives the increase. Let God do the work in others hearts. Even though Andrew was an untrained man to win people to Jesus, he had a heart of compassion and a desire to loyally serve him. He had such a determination and a passion to do what is right. God used him because he listened to God.
In verse 37 we read, “They followed Jesus.” This means that they accompanied him. Verse 38 says that Jesus “saw” them, and he twisted around and inspected Philip and Andrew. Jesus asked these men what they were seeking, and He asks the same to us today! What are we seeking?
And then Jesus says, “Come and see.” We know Andrew went and found Peter and brought him to Jesus. I know it is not easy to witness to people, especially our family and friends.
Studies have revealed that 86% of people came to church because a friend or relative invited them to come. It was also revealed that 80% of people say that they would like to come to church if only someone would invite them to come.
That is something we all can do.
Andrew and John were already disciples of John the Baptist, who was preaching a message of repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Although they had grown up in good Jewish homes and had practiced all of the prescribed rituals and sacrifices, these two young men came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit that they were sinners. They knew that their religious activities and heritage could not atone for their sins. And so they were baptized by John.
But John kept speaking of the One who was coming after him, the thong of whose sandals he was not worthy to untie (1:27). John denied being the Messiah, but said that he was merely a voice crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord” (1:23). When John saw Jesus and proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God” (1:29, 36), that was all that Andrew and John needed to say, “We’re going to follow the Lamb! We need Him to be our Lamb, to take away our sins!”
When Andrew and John began to follow after Jesus, He turned and saw them and said (1:38), “What do you seek?” This is the same Jesus who, a few verses later, tells Nathanael that He knew his character and his actions before He ever met him! So Jesus didn’t ask Andrew and John what they were seeking because He lacked information. Rather, He asked them the question so that they would think about it. “What are you seeking by following Me? Do you want status and power by being on the inside circle when I come into My kingdom? Do you want Me to give you a comfortable life with plenty of material benefits, free from pain and sorrow? Do you want Me to forgive your sins and give you inner peace? What do you seek?” He asks you the same question!
Andrew and John answer (1:38), “Rabbi, where are You staying?” It seems like an odd reply to Jesus’ question. Probably they wanted more time with Him than a roadside talk would provide (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 156). John Calvin (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 71) saw in their reply the lesson that “we ought not to be satisfied with a mere passing look, but that we ought to seek his dwelling, that he may receive us as guests.” He explains, “For there are very many who smell the gospel at a distance only, and thus allow Christ suddenly to disappear, and all that they have learned concerning him to pass away.” The point is, if you have met Christ as your Savior, then you’ll want to spend more time with Him to learn more about Him. It was only after Andrew and John spent that evening with the Lord that they became witnesses to the others.
Jesus’ reply is always His invitation to all seeking hearts (1:39), “Come, and you will see.” If you’ve never met Jesus as your Savior, He invites you (Matt. 11:28-30), “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” If you’ve met Him as Savior, His invitation to you each morning is (John 21:12), “Come and have breakfast.” Find in Jesus each morning nourishing food for your soul.
1. Jesus begins with us where we’re at, but He changes us into what He wants us to be!
After their evening with Jesus, Andrew immediately found his brother Simon and said to him (1:41), “We have found the Messiah,” which John translates for his Greek readers as “the Christ.” As we saw last time, it points to Jesus as God’s anointed prophet, priest, and king, prophesied of in the Old Testament.
You may wonder how the disciples knew at this early stage that Jesus was the promised Messiah when the Synoptic Gospels indicate that they didn’t seem to understand truly who He was until much later. It wasn’t until Matthew 16:16 when Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But here Andrew is proclaiming Jesus as the Christ from the outset.
The answer is probably that the disciples, like many in that day, were looking for the Messiah. But they had a different idea of what that Messiah would be and what He would do for them than what Jesus came to do (Morris, p. 160). You’ll recall that even right after Peter gave his great confession of Jesus as the Christ, he rebuked Jesus for saying that He was going to be killed and raised up on the third day (Matt. 16:21-23). That didn’t fit with Peter’s expectation of the Messiah as a conquering King whose rule would usher in a golden age for Israel. The disciples had to learn that He was the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 before He would return as the King over the nations (Rev. 19:11-16).
But Jesus took Andrew and John and Peter where they were at and began immediately to mold them into what He wanted them to be. Jesus has that kind of authority and power. He begins with us right where we’re at, but He changes us into what He wants us to be.
We’ve seen that there is far more about Jesus than we can ever know. We begin with Him by trusting Him as our Lamb that God has provided to take away our sins. Jesus begins with us where we’re at, but He begins to change us into what He wants us to be.
2. We continue with Jesus by following Him as Lord!
In 1:43, “he purposed” could refer to Andrew or to Peter. D. A. Carson (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 157) argues that it is Andrew because it enforces the point “that everyone else who comes to Jesus in this chapter does so because of someone else’s witness.” This supports John’s practical emphasis on the importance of our witness for Christ.
3. We mature with Jesus as He reveals truth to us about ourselves and about Him!
We looked at Jesus’ encounter with Nathanael last week. He is probably the same as Bartholomew, who is linked with Philip in all three Synoptic lists of the apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; but not in Acts 1:13). His initial response to Philip’s statement that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, was not enthusiastic (1:46): “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” But Philip convinced him with the simple reply, “Come and see.”
Jesus instantly let Nathanael know that He knew him inside and out. He knew that Nathanael was a man without guile or deceit (1:47). He told it like he saw it. Jesus’ words to Nathanael are a play on Jacob’s name and character. Jacob was a deceiver, whose name was changed to Israel. Here, it’s as if Jesus is saying of Nathanael, “Look, Israel without a trace of Jacob left in him!” (L. Trudinger, cited by Andreas Kostenberger, John [Baker], p. 82.) Jesus apparently knew that Nathanael had been sitting under a fig tree, meditating on Jacob’s dream of the ladder coming down out of heaven (1:51). So He said to him (1:50), “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
Nathanael is the first man in John’s gospel who is said to believe in Jesus and he is the first to receive a promise from Christ. His testimony teaches us that there are degrees of growth in coming to know Christ. Nathanael was already a student of the Scriptures, searching them to know who the Messiah would be (1:45). But he needed to meet Jesus in person. That meeting brought him to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel (1:49). But Jesus would reveal still more to Nathanael in the future. As we’ve seen, Jesus is far greater than any of us realized when we first came to believe in Him. So the Christian life is a wonderful relationship in which we come to know Jesus in a deeper and deeper way (Phil. 3:8-14).
Andrew is always listed fourth in the lists of apostles. He was content not to be first or to preach to large crowds. But in John’s Gospel, he is always bringing someone to Jesus.
See (John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men [W Publishing Group]). Whatever your personality or background, if you will come to know Jesus personally as your Savior and follow Him as Lord, He will use your life for His eternal purpose.
Let us remember. Jesus begins with us where we’re at, but He changes us into what He wants us to be! We continue with Jesus by following Him as Lord! And finally, we mature with Jesus as He reveals truth to us about ourselves and about Him!