Have you ever been in the situation where you have wanted or needed to introduce a person to someone else whom you know? Maybe the time came for you to facilitate that potentially awkward introduction of a boyfriend or girlfriend to your parents for the first time? Or maybe you were given the responsibility for introducing a new employee to the rest of the team? Or possibly you have hosted an event and were required to perform ‘introductions’ to ensure that all the people who needed to meet did so? Or you might have had the joy of introducing a new baby to the audience of siblings, grandparents and extended family?
In this passage at the outset of John’s gospel, we see Andrew making what must surely be the single most important introduction that can be made: He introduced someone to Jesus.
There can be no doubt that Andrew was looking for something. Maybe even Someone? He had become a follower and disciple of John the Baptist, whom Jesus described as the greatest one to be born of a woman (Matt 11:11). John the Baptist pointed away from himself to Someone greater and declared that he was merely paving the way for this person. So on the day when John pointed at Jesus and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ (v36) Andrew knew he must check it out. He immediately followed Jesus (v37) and spent the remainder of the day with Him (v39).
Following this time spent with Jesus, Andrews’ first reaction is instructive: ‘He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ)’ (v41)(NASB). So the first thing Andrew does after spending time with Jesus is seek out his brother and say, ‘I’ve found what we’ve been looking for!’ It would seem like Simon didn’t need much persuading as the next verse tells us that Andrew ‘brought him to Jesus’ (v42). What a gift Andrew gave to his brother! And what a moment, as for the first time Simon Peter comes face to face with Jesus! This introduction shaped church history!
But this is not a one-off action on the part of Andrew. There are two further accounts in John’s gospel where we see Andrew acting in a similar fashion. The first is found in chapter 6:1-14 at the famous event of the feeding of the 5,000. We see a large and hungry crowd who had followed Jesus around the Sea of Galilee as He had travelled across it. Knowing that the crowd would be in need of feeding, Jesus asked His disciples to feed them. While some of the disciples threw their hands up in the air and wondered at the cost and location of the food, Andrew sought out a young lad who happened to have with him a bite to eat – 5 loaves and 2 fish – and brought Him to Jesus. What a moment for this boy! Amongst a huge crowd that was numbered at about 5,000 men he and his packed lunch had been discovered and now he was in the presence of the Miracle-Worker Himself! He must not have been able to believe what was happening to him. Let us not get carried away, though, and romanticise what Andrew did here. Even in his introduction of the boy to Jesus he had a caveat that he was not sure what use this measly amount of food would be amongst the vast horde of people (v9). However, he had at least tried to do something. The miracle that followed hinged on Andrews’ willingness to introduce someone to Jesus.
The other occasion is found in John 12:20ff where some Greeks are found wanting to meet Jesus. They had approached Philip who, it would appear, was from the same region of the country (v21). Philip’s response was to seek out Andrew and ask him to make the introduction to Jesus. Andrew and Philip then approach Jesus together. Jesus speaks to what seems like a gathered crowd (v29) who then hear God speak from heaven. Whether or not this particular group of Greeks got the face-to-face interview with Jesus they desired is, I think, superseded by the fact that they were part of a crowd who heard God speak in an audible voice! And Andrew plays a key role in the story.
Andrew, although one of the original 12 disciples, doesn’t feature very often in the gospels. When he does appear he is usually either identified as ‘Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother’ (e.g. Jn 1:40) or he appears in the same sentence as Simon Peter. The one exception is the occasion described in John 12 that is mentioned above. There is no doubt that Andrew did not share the same sort of profile as some of the other disciples such as Simon Peter, James and John but we can see from his brief appearances that he was someone who brought people to Jesus. So the challenge for us is, are we in the business of introductions? Are our interactions with others littered with occasions where these people met Jesus? Are we on the lookout for opportunities to introduce people to the Saviour? Do people bring others to us because they know that we know Jesus?
What a wonderful legacy Andrew has left. He is known as someone who provided people with an opportunity to come into the presence of Jesus!