Simon Peter's Brother

The highest development in pictorial art is proved when the artist can with a few rapid lines represent some view or figure so as to give a good idea of its characteristic features. The three or four brief and seemingly casual references in the Gospels to Andrew reveal him to us with such graphic distinctiveness and power that it is as if we have known him all our lives.

   He was originally with John the Baptist and was one of the first two men who followed the Messiah. The Baptist was standing with two of his disciples, and “looking at Jesus as he walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1: 36). The apostle who writes this tells us that one of these two disciples was Andrew, but with characteristic modesty he omits to mention who the other was, because it was himself. (The calling out to service as related in Matt. 4: 18–22 is a separate occurrence at a subsequent time.) These two men then follow the Master, who presently turns to ask what they seek. They reply, “Rabbi … where abidest thou?” His response is to “Come and see”. They do so and remain with Him that day (John 1: 38, 39).

   The other disciple is then modestly left out of the narrative, but of Andrew we are told that, “He first finds his own brother Simon, and says to him, We have found the Messias (which being interpreted is Christ). And he led him to Jesus” (vs41, 42). There Andrew’s part is over for the time. So be it - he had done a good day’s work.

   We see in a wristwatch the hands doing their work out toward the world. They are revealed to all as they do their work - important work too - in public. Thus when we look at a watch we hardly ever think of anything but the hands and what they indicate. Yet do they move themselves? No, for round at the back, hidden away and difficult to discover, is the fusee, the cogs of which move the hands. It is a modest, curiously shaped, wheel that does its work so quietly that you may have a watch for a lifetime and not even know of its existence. Yet the hands cannot move without it, and it is from its direct proximity to the hidden central spring that it has its power. Thus Peter, like the hands of the watch, did his work mainly in public, and Andrew his, like the fusee, in retirement. Peter preached to the multitudes, and brought thousands to Christ, but it was Andrew who provided the first impulse by bringing Peter himself to Christ. It seemed a small individual service, but if we think of what Peter afterwards achieved we can see that it had a significant impact. This kind of individual work is always needed. Priscilla’s quiet words turn the stream of Apollos’ eloquence into the right direction (Acts 18: 26). Luther is instructed by von Staupitz; Calvin by his cousin Olivetan; John Wesley by Peter Boehler.

   After this Andrew and Peter were appointed to the service of the apostolate. Being fishermen, their time was already taken up, and so they were called from that and all else to be fishers of men. Interestingly, they illustrate the different ways of fishing for souls: Peter fished with a net and brought multitudes in with a sweep of the waters, while Andrew fished with a line. He had already caught one fish, and this proved to be a very large one. Now the qualities needed for these two kinds of fishing are in many ways distinct. Patience and vigilance are needed in both cases, but whereas the net fisherman has his attention on large things - the rise and fall of sea tides, gales and shoals - the line fisherman carefully watches for the little ripple, the slight depressions of the float and the faintest pressure on the line. This quality we see in Andrew. When the multitude were famished through lack of food and the rest of the disciples were in despair, it was Andrew (John 6: 8, 9) that found the boy standing with the bread basket. With the practical eye of one accustomed to see small things and seize small opportunities, he said “There is a little boy (another would not have noticed a little boy at all!) here who has five barley loaves (he had not only counted them but knew what they were made of!) and two small fishes”.

   Now if he had only stopped there, what a glorious word it would have been! What audacity of faith it implied! Unfortunately however he added on some reasoning of his own and produced a most ridiculous anticlimax - “but this, what is it for so many?” (John 6: 9). Ah, we often begin in the spirit and end in the flesh! Faith called Andrew's attention to the boy, but faith carried through would have reasoned that five loaves in the hand of the Master was more than sufficient to feed five thousand. However, do not let the stupidity of the closing question make us forget that after all it was Andrew that saw the boy with the loaves and the fishes, the small means which his faith in his Master’s power led him to bring into notice, with the end result that a multitude of about five thousand were satisfied.

   Andrew was evidently held in esteem by his companions and worthy of being referred to in difficult circumstances. Thus when the Greeks come up and go to Philip (John 12: 20-22) with their request, Philip is apparently unsure of himself and lacks confidence to act on his own. He needs the advice of another. Where does he go? Not to the leader of the Twelve - to Peter - nor to James and John who were also prominent, but to Andrew. By this time we are pretty certain what his advice is likely to be. Men with little reasoning power sometimes have much sagacity. Wisdom is the ability to unravel problems and this one presents no difficulty to Andrew and he has no hesitancy in applying the solution: “Andrew comes and Philip, and they tell Jesus” (John 12: 22). This is Andrew’s grand characteristic. He has a way of bringing and referring people and things direct to the Master. Would that this attractive feature was more marked in all who own Christ as Master!

   This then is Andrew - a man who, though not as prominent as his brother, had his own important and vital role to play. As was later spelt out by the Apostle Paul in relation to the members of the body, all are necessary and all need each other (see 1 Cor. 12: 14-25).