Bible Study Review 6/7: “Andrew, the First Disciple”

In The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James describes those who commit themselves to religious institutions and find value in religious experience as “once born” or “twice born.”

  • “Once born” folks come to religion and remain faithful very easily due to their personalities, dispositions, and experiences from their early lives.
  • “Twice born” are the exact opposite. They find religion difficult to embrace due to those same factors and generally come to faith late in life (if they do so at all) as a result of a major “conversion” experience
    • Think the apostle Paul. These folks don’t naturally take to faith, they experience something that they cannot explain or reject.

Modern Christianity has a tendency place a lot of value on the testimony of the second type of people. The reason is obvious, converts have better stories. Attending church from a young age and remaining faithful throughout life isn’t exciting, but that testimony is no less important. What we find in scripture is that Jesus chose as his disciples members of both groups, and Andrew is a great example of a “once born” person, someone with a steady and mature faith throughout his life.

All About Andrew

  • Brother of Simon Peter – one of three sets of brothers among the disciples
  • Fisherman by trade on the Sea of Galilee.
  • Originally from Bethsaida, tradition holds that he and Peter moved to Capernaum to work for Zebedee (father of James and John)
  • Appears in all four Gospels, is only really described in the Gospel of John.

Andrew’s Appearances

John 1: 19-42

Here we see Andrew first as a follower of John the Baptist. That’s significant, because it shows us that even before he met Jesus Andrew was searching for something, looking to find more from his faith than what was being offered by the leaders of his day.

Andrew hears John refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and still goes to see him. Lamb of God was not a title common to the Messiah. The people were hoping for the “Lion of Judah,” who would free them from occupation.

Another potential issue Andrew might have seen – Jesus is from Galilee. So is Andrew. We have a tendency to underestimate people from the same place as us. For example, the editor of the local newspaper in Dayton, Ohio (where the Wright Brothers grew up) said upon hearing of their flight at Kitty Hawk, “I do not believe God intends for man to fly. If man is to fly, it certainly won’t be someone from Dayton who does it.”

Andrew has two reasons to be curious about Jesus and yet still goes to meet him. This is the first significant thing about Andrew, he is not afraid to let reality change his perceptions. Most of us keep our beliefs in our mind we when experience new evidence and don’t easily let new information change us. Andrew is willing to let himself be changed.

The second major thing we see about Andrew in this passage is that after meeting Jesus he immediately goes to tell his brother. One of the signs that we’re beginning to grow into what it means to be made in God’s image is that we share the good things that happen to us.

Peter immediately becomes a leader and a central focus of the text, Andrew fades into the background. Andrew probably knew that might happen, but his desire to share was greater than his desire to keep this moment for himself.

John 6: 1-9

Andrew is the only disciple who doesn’t panic. He’s the only one who does what Jesus says and goes to look for something for the people to eat. Even though what he finds is small and insignificant he brings it to Jesus anyway. Andrew seems to have understood early on that there is always a possibility when Jesus is involved. When we realize that what seems small has the ability to be multiplied in the hands of Jesus we realize that nothing is beyond his potential to use, not even us.

John 12: 20-22

Every time we see Andrew in scripture we see him bringing someone to Jesus (Peter, the boy with the fish and loaves, these gentiles). Tradition holds that he went on to preach in Scythia, home to some of the most fear barbarians of the ancient world. His desire to bring people to Jesus overcame his pride (his brother), his doubt (the boy), his prejudices (the Gentiles), and his fear (the Scythians).

The image we see in Scripture of Andrew is a picture of someone who is mature and confident in himself and his faith, generous in his desire to share that faith, and confident in what could happen when people are brought before Jesus. We’d all do well to follow that example.

 

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