Well I guess as I am reflecting on the Saints this week, it will not come as any great surprise that today is the turn of St Andrew, seeing how one of our churches is named after him!
Andrew was a fisherman; the brother of Simon (later named Peter) and he is known as the first called disciple. In Mark chapter 4:18-20 we read how Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee and saw the two brothers casting their net into the lake, Jesus said ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men’ what I always find extraordinary about this, is how it then says that immediately they left their nets and followed him! I think sometimes the familiarity of the passage means that when we read it, we are not fully able to take in exactly what that would have meant.
Andrew was born between 5-10 AD in Bethsaida, the principle fishing port of Palestine. It seems Andrew had a strong sense of curiosity, he would have gone to the synagogue at the age of 5 to study scriptures, astronomy and arithmetic. In John’s Gospel we read that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, before leaving everything to follow Jesus John 1:35-41.
Today as I read the account of Jesus calling Andrew and Simon (Peter), My thoughts turned to putting myself in Andrews shoes (or sandals) imagining what that would look like and all the implications that would have on my life and also those around me. The gravity of the situation and how Andrew responded stopped me in my tracks. These men heard Jesus, stopped immediately what they were doing, which was earning their living and without question they followed Jesus, Wow!
We next read in John 6:1-9 about Andrew when Jesus feeds the 5000 when Phillip and Jesus are discussing where to buy the bread to feed the crowds, it was Andrew who had noticed the boy with the basket of 5 loaves and 2 fish, he spoke out and told Jesus what he had seen, not realising at the time the importance of his words. Of course Jesus already knew what He was going to do, but Andrew didn’t, I can imagine he probably felt despair as he told Jesus of how little there was available, if only he had known!
There is so much that we can learn from Andrew, I wonder how many times we have felt or heard God calling us to something, yet we ask questions, dither and convince ourselves we are not worthy, what would it look like if we, like Andrew put down what we are doing, the things the world says are important and followed Jesus without question?
I am also in awe at how Andrew noticed that boy, he probably didn’t think it was relevant, it seemed such a small thing that couldn’t possibly make a difference to so many, yet when he gave it to Jesus everyone was fed, and there was left overs!
This makes me wonder, what is it that we have noticed? what would happen if we took those things to Jesus, the God of the impossible, the one who loves and provides for us abundantly?
Andrew died by crucifixion in Greece, at his request he was hung on a diagonal cross as he did not feel worthy to die on a vertical cross like Jesus, he was tied to the cross rather than fixed with nails and he hung there for 3 days. For those 3 days Andrew continued to preach the message of Jesus, in all of that agony, he continued to put Jesus first.
The Bible tells us very little about Andrew, but what it tells us is enough! Andrew was called personally by Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus’ power and to share in his life and death. The amazing thing is, that we too are called by God, to do the same thing, to share the Good news of Jesus Christ. What that means and how it looks will be different for each of us, however what is the same is that we all have a place and a purpose that God is calling us to.
I wonder how we can each respond today?