Andrew is referred to eight times in the New Testament. His first meeting with our Lord is recorded in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. In Mark 1:16, we have the account of his call from his fishing nets, which occurred at least a year later than his first meeting with Jesus. "Passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers."
The record of the third occasion is found in Mark 3:13, when it is said that our Lord went up: "Into the mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He Himself would," and He appointed them to be with Him, and to send them forth as apostles. Andrew was one of the number.
In John 6, we have the account of the feeding of the five thousand, and in it the next account of Andrew, who it was that told the Lord about the boy who was present, having the loaves and fishes. In John 12:22, we meet with Andrew again, when at the end of the public ministry of Jesus the Greeks came and said to Philip, "Sir, we would see Jesus." Philip then consulted with Andrew, and they both came to the Lord. In Mark 13:3, we meet him again, when after the Olivet prophecy, when Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives over against the Temple, he came with Peter, James and John to ask the Master privately to explain what He had been saying. His name is found next in the book of the Acts in the first chapter and the thirteenth verse: "When they were come in, they went up into the inner chamber, where they were abiding; both Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James."
Thus he is found in the apostolic company, and undoubtedly went with that company into the Temple. We find him, however, once more in the book of Revelation 21:14, where describing the city of God it is said: "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."
Necessarily Andrew's name was one. That covers the ground of our information concerning this man.
With these incidents in mind we will attempt to see the man himself. We know his father's name. We are not told this, however, in connection with himself, but in connection with his brother. When Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, our Lord said, "Thou art Simon, the son of John." It is quite evident that he was not a conspicuous man in the opinion of those who came into contact with him. Even John, when writing the account of his first meeting with Jesus, before he had named Simon at all, in order that we may know who Andrew was, calls him "the brother of Simon"; and we find he is constantly referred to in that way. Men who are known thus by their relationship to other men are almost always unobtrusive men, not strikingly impressive to others.
Then we turn to the more definite facts concerning him, and the first is that he was a disciple of John the Baptist, and was most evidently within the inner circle of those disciples. When we recognize that, we are face to face with some things concerning him. He was evidently a man who had become conscious of the act of sin, and of the fact of its abounding nature in the time in which he lived, and far more, of the fact of sin in himself. He had evidently become conscious of the need for repentance, and had submitted himself to the ritual baptism that indicated the confession of sin, and the desire for remission and renewal.
Moreover, as a disciple of John he was one seeking for the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God; or John had struck the key-note of his ministry with the great announcement, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Andrew had heard that message, and had been obedient to it.
Moreover, John's whole ministry had been that of telling of the coming of One Who would bring deliverance with fan and fire, gathering out the wheat, and destroying chaff in all human affairs; lowering mountains and lifting valleys, thus ending all inequalities. Andrew therefore as a disciple of John was living in expectation of the coming of the One Who should set up that Kingdom.
We may often know much about a man if we know his friends. We look at the friends of Andrew. John the Baptist was one, and John the apostle was another. We say this, of course, taking for granted there can be little doubt that John was the one with him when they saw and followed Jesus. Thus among his closest friends he numbered the man of stern, ascetic outlook upon life, and the man who was a poet and a seer. Moreover, Philip is found in that group, a man more unimpressive than even Andrew, quiet and retiring. Then necessarily there was his own brother, Simon.
In view of these few facts before us, we ask what sort of a man was Andrew? After pondering this narrative it seems to me that he was a singularly strong man. His name Andrew, Andreas, means manly. Necessarily nothing very much can be based upon that fact, but in all probability at his birth it might have been said of him as it was of Moses, that he was a proper child, and the name have been given in expectation of what he would become, and then the boy trained to manhood in keeping with the suggestion. I have a picture that I love of Simon and John hurrying to the tomb on the resurrection morning. In it Simon is represented as a strong, rough, almost ruffled looking man. I always feel that it might pass for a picture of Andrew also.
Moreover, he was a man marked by moral courage and insight as is evidenced by the immediateness of the way in which at a critical moment, he left John, the herald, and followed Jesus.
As we watch him in his first meeting with Jesus, we see Andrew following quietly and reverently. He did not speak to the Lord until he was addressed. When the question was asked by Jesus, "What seek ye?" we notice Andrew's immediate reply, as he addressed Him as "Rabbi," and in the use of the title revealed the fact that he was putting himself under the instruction of our Lord. Jesus was no Rabbi according to the order of the times. He was a Galilean peasant. Nevertheless under the impulse of the conviction that filled him, as the result of John's words, he called Him "Rabbi."
Furthermore, his cautiousness is certainly manifest to the careful reader. Jesus said, "What seek ye?" and he replied, "Rabbi. where abidest Thou?" Thus he answered a question with another question and with one that at first does not seem to be at all relevant. Pondering the account, it is impossible to escape from the conviction that what he meant was simply this: he realized at once the utmost importance of the question, and declared in effect that it could not be answered easily and so he, wanted time; that if he could only come to the place where Jesus abode, it would be possible to have such time.
Now we ask how our Lord dealt with such a man. It is worthy to emphasize the fact that in Andrew we have no libertine, no man who had abused and debased himself by evil courses in life; or even if there had been such courses, there had also been definite confession and repentance; he had set his face towards righteousness, and was seeking the Kingdom of God. Andrew, therefore, is seen at the beginning as a man, repenting, questing after the Kingdom, and expecting the coming of the Deliverer.
Our Lord's dealing with him began with His question, "What seek ye?" We pause to remind ourselves that that is the utmost question in any and every human life. Our Lord did not ask Andrew who he was looking for. There was no need to do that. It was quite evident that he was seeking Jesus. What He did ask him was why he was doing that very thing. Why are you coming after Me? What is it that you really want? This question to Andrew becomes the more arresting when we remember that the words are the first recorded words of Jesus as He commenced His public ministry. The question was one that plumbed the very depths of personality. Jesus was drawing him out by driving him in. It is at least probable that Andrew had seen Jesus when six weeks earlier He had been baptized. But yesterday he had heard John identify Him as the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world. He had come as far as that, and now Jesus said, why are you coming? What do you want? What is the inspiration driving you along this pathway after Me? John had declared that He would come with His fan in His hand. At this moment He was using that fan in the soul of a man, driving away as chaff all secondary things, and taking Him down to the central matter of life. I cannot help believing that Andrew caught the suggestiveness of the question. It was the greatness of it that made him say, "Where abidest Thou?" In other words, Give me time; let me come closer before I talk.
The tremendous significance of the question cannot be over-emphasized. If at this moment we paused, and allowed our Lord to speak to us, there is a sense in which He would still say, "What seek ye?" When thus challenged, we pass to the master conception of life, and discover the inspiration of everything, we shall know the answer. Andrew had come a long way. He had heard John. He had obeyed. He was engaged in first after the Kingdom of God. He had confessed the fact of sin. He was longing for complete deliverance from all its effects. He had heard John say that this was "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," and now he was asked why he was following. When he then asked as to the abiding place of Christ, he heard the Master say, "Come. and ye shall see." This meant far more than that Andrew should see where He was abiding. It meant that there should come to him an answer to his quest, a seeing that would indicate the way by which it would be possible for him to find that which he sought.
The quiet day ran its course. How long they were together must depend on the view we hold as to the method of John in referring to time. There are those who believe he used the Hebrew method. Personally I am quite convinced that it was the Roman method he used. If it were the Hebrew method, then this meeting happened in the afternoon, and they were together until sunset. If on the other hand it were the Roman method, their meeting occurred about ten o'clock in the morning, and all the hours following to sunset were given up to these men. They found their way to the place where Christ was abiding, and we have no record whatever of the interview. We do know, however, what happened immediately that interview was over for we see this man Andrew hurrying away to find his brother, and to announce the fact that they had found the Messiah.
Whereas we have said we have no record of what took place between them, we can very reverently imagine much that happened. Andrew would probably talk to Jesus of the perplexity of the times in which he was living as seen through the ministry of the Baptist, and would ask Him what He had to say about these conditions. Possibly Andrew would ask the Lord to explain the mystery of Himself in regard to the prophecy, particularly desiring light on John's proclamation concerning Him as being "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." All this is speculation and may be missed. The certain thing is that after the interview his heart was resting in the fact that he had found his Messiah. He was having a “cool of the day” meeting with the Creator of the world. (Gen. 3:8)
We repeat that we have no particulars of the interview, but as we have reverently imagined things concerning Andrew, we may with equal reverence suggest that in His dealing with this man, He emphasized the necessity which later on to Andrew and others who listened, He put into clear and concrete form of command: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
"What seek ye?" He had said to Andrew upon the highway, and later He had said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." In each case we have the same word "seek," a word that suggests a quest for something hidden or lost. He used it again in that self-same Manifesto when He said, "Seek, and ye shall find." He used the same word, moreover, once of His own ministry when He declared: "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost."
It was a word, therefore, in itself which indicated seriousness in quest. He thus Who had asked Andrew this question, in the quiet hours would surely emphasize the importance of the right quest, that, namely, of the Kingdom of God. (The all-consuming purpose of God in creation was to establish a Kingdom on the earth, in which He could display His glory in the Person of His Son. This display of His glory was to be made to creatures made in His image, and therefore, capable of apprehending, appreciating, and applauding His glory. The unfolding drama of the Bible depicts the movements of God in the accomplishment of that purpose. Alva J. McClain – The Greatness of the Kingdom)
The issue was that this man who had enrolled himself as a disciple, and spent the day with Jesus, came to the great conviction to which we have already more than once referred. We see him finding his brother, and using to him the simple and yet sublime formula that revealed his position, as he said: "We have found the Messiah." The Messiah was to Andrew, the hope of his people, the hope that had become a hope deferred, and had indeed made the heart sick, the hope that had been rekindled as the result of the ministry of John the forerunner; and now Andrew declared, We have found Him.
It is most important in this connection to be reminded that in all the prophetic foretelling, as in all the ritualistic foretelling, the coming Messiah was shown forth as the One Who would merge in His Person the offices of priesthood and kingship. His authority of kingship would be vested in His redeeming and Mediatorial work as Priest. We have found Him, said Andrew. In all probability at the moment Andrew by no means understood all involved in the announcement. It was three years later that his brother made the great inclusive confession. Nevertheless there had come to him the conviction of the fact even though he did not understand all its implications. He had found the Messiah, his King. He had found the One Who could answer the quest of his soul after the remission of sins.
Immediately this man became a missionary. Conviction in his own soul followed by submission to that of which he was convinced, issued in an active, spontaneous, inevitable propaganda.
That is always so. It is impossible to find Christ in such relationship as Andrew did, without realizing the birth in the soul of a missionary passion. No man can become a living follower of the Lord without immediately finding His compassion moving him, and driving him out after someone else. "He findeth first his own brother."
Then the great account runs on. He was called first to apostleship, and later sent out as an apostle. Then we gain some suggestive glimpses of him. We first see him with venturesome faith when the multitudes were waiting to be fed. Philip the mathematician and careful man, was counting the cost. It was then that Andrew went a little further than Philip with his calculation, and spoke of the young boy who was present with two loaves and some little fishes. But he qualified his venture as he revealed the fact that he had not very much hope, for said he, "What are, they among so many?" To him, then, was given the discovery that what seems worthless as our possession is abundance in the handling of the Lord. When at the end the Greeks came and told Philip that they would see Jesus, he, after consultation with Andrew, decided to take them into the presence of the Lord. Once more we have no details of the conversation between Philip and Andrew, and yet one can imagine that there flashed back upon the memory of this man the words that Jesus had spoken long ago to him and another, "Come, and ye shall see." He made up his mind if these men wanted to see Jesus; he had better get them face to face with Him.
The last glimpse, historically, that we have of Andrew is of him in the first chapter of the Acts. There he is not preaching, neither is he seen going out seeking some new follower of his Lord. His great occupation on that day was that of listening to the brother he had found preaching, and watching three thousand swept over the border line into the Kingdom of God. And to refer once again to something spoken of earlier, the last place in which the name of Andrew is revealed is on one of the foundation stones of the city of God. It is all poetic and suggestive, and in spite of the apparent pathos of the thing, I am constrained to say that as you look at that city, you will find that Simon had no greater or more conspicuous stone than had Andrew. The tremendous significance of that simple and perhaps half-foolish remark is that the building of the city of God will not be accomplished because of the notoriety of its builders, but because of their fidelity.
We close our article by reminding ourselves that Christ's first disciple was not Peter, but Andrew, and the first need of the Lord is still the strong, quiet soul who is content to remain largely out of sight. By saying this I am not undervaluing Peter. I am not undervaluing any man who in the Divine will is put in the forefront; but I am attempting to emphasize the fact that if the Kingdom of God had only the men whom we sometimes designate leaders and should not (Matt. 23:10) (better called servants), the work would suffer. It is by the host of those who, like Andrew, are strong, cautious, and faithful, that that work will be accomplished.
I repeat that all this is not to undervalue Peter, but it is rightly to estimate Andrew. The message of the study is pre-eminently for the man who has come far towards the Kingdom of God, who has not yet had personal, first-hand contact with Christ. There are multitudes of such men who see the glory of God, men who know their own sin, men who have gone so far as to seek release from that sin by an activity of repentance, but they have not found the Messiah.
What does the account say to such? Follow the lines along which you have been travelling, and they will inevitably lead you soon face to face with Christ. Having found Him, submit, enroll yourself as His disciple, and obey Him. You certainly may not at the moment be sure of all the doctrines of the Christian Church. That need not affect your discipleship. Go after Him, and when He turns, and demands from you what you are seeking, take time to tell Him. As assuredly as you do so, you will find the Messiah, your Savior and your King.