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Minor Men With a Major Message: Andrew – The Man Who Did Ordinary Things Extraordinarily

John 1:40-42, 6:5-9, 12:20-26

It seems to me that most of us make two mistakes when it comes to the twelve disciples. In the first place, we make the mistake of thinking the disciples must have been extraordinarily-gifted, deeply-committed, and naturally-saintly men. The second mistake we make is thinking that in order to be classified as a disciple, one must perform spectacular and dramatic acts of service in the name of Jesus Christ.

However, I submit to you that the disciple Andrew shows us how mistaken we are on both counts. Andrew never preached like Peter, or wrote like Matthew, or prayed like John, or thought like Paul. Andrew never made the headlines. He was never a star. He wasn’t extraordinarily gifted. And he didn’t perform any extraordinary works. He was just an ordinary man who did some ordinary things for his Lord Jesus Christ.

Now I know that it is hard for us to work up any emotional response to one who is labelled “ordinary.” I love the story about a young man and woman who had been dating for quite some time. They fell in love, and he decided to propose to her. He set the scene by driving out to a lake and parking in the moonlight. He turned to her and said: “Darling, I want you to marry me. I know that I am just an ordinary guy. I am not wealthy. I am not rich. I don’t have a yacht or a Rolls Royce like Johnny Green, but I do love you with all my heart.” She thought for a moment and then said: “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Green!”

So before you shove Andrew aside in your mind and go looking for more spectacular and dynamic disciples from the pages of Scripture, let me remind you that while Andrew was just an ordinary man who did some ordinary things, nevertheless, he did those ordinary things extraordinarily well. Therefore, I believe he is worthy of both our adulation and our emulation. Permit me, please, to spell that out for you…

First, Andrew was an ordinary man who thought and acted selflessly.

In John 1, we are told that Andrew was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. But Andrew kept hearing John speak of “One who is greater than I”—so when Andrew learned that Jesus was the one of whom John was speaking, he switched his allegiance to Jesus. He became the first disciple of our Lord. Not only that, but he became the first to bring another disciple to Jesus. The Bible says: “Andrew found his brother Simon Peter and brought him to Jesus.”

Now what is so interesting about that is that before long, Andrew got shunted into the background. Among the twelve disciples, there were three to whom Jesus became especially close: Peter, James and John. Andrew was not included. He had been the first disciple, and he had brought Peter to Jesus, but then he disappeared into the background as his brother, Peter, took center stage.

I do not know how it would be to be kin to some very illustrious person. There are no members of my family who are notoriously good or notoriously bad, or just plain notorious—at least not yet. They are all very ordinary people. But I can imagine that having a brother who was a movie star or a sports hero or a national politician would be tough. It would not be easy to go through life like Andrew did, being known primarily as Simon Peter’s brother.

To be sure, Andrew could never captivate an audience like Peter did at Pentecost. He lacked the fiery gift of leadership with which Peter was so abundantly endowed. His reactions were slower, his mental concepts less expansive, his decisions more methodically made, his words less charged with punch and power, his actions less dramatic. However, Andrew possessed a grace too infrequently found today—the grace of cheering while the other fellow stars, the grace of playing a minor role with genuine joy and satisfaction.

I am sure you know people who always want to be the center of attention. They cannot serve on a committee unless they chair it. They will not participate in a project unless they can control it. They will not even engage in conversation unless they can talk about themselves and what they are doing. They possess what psychologists call “the Star Syndrome.” They remind me of a remark made by the valet to one of the kaisers in Germany: “My master was a very vain man. If he went to a baptism, he wanted to be the baby. If he went to a wedding, he wanted to be the groom. And if he went to a funeral, he wanted to be the corpse!” Now that is real vanity!

On the other hand, there are people whose lives are marked by selflessness. True story. A mother sending her daughter off to college, wrote to the university president saying: “I am sending my daughter to your school, but I am worried about her. She is shy and bashful, she does not like to be out front, she is not a leader, but she is a wonderful follower. Please look after her.” The president immediately wrote back: “Dear Madam, I am looking forward with great anticipation to meeting your daughter. With 1789 leaders in our student body, I can hardly wait to have one follower!”

It is not easy to live out your life day after day in a subordinate position while someone else gets the notice, the publicity, the attention, the credit, the praise, the spotlight, and perhaps even the reward. It takes a lot of grace to accept a role like that. That is what Andrew did. How many times did Andrew stand on the sidelines knowing that he had brought his brother to Jesus, and yet he could smile with satisfaction as he watched Peter grow in his faith and become the chief, the star, the leader among the disciples.

Here is the point. Do not measure your life just by what you can accomplish. Measure it by whom you can reach. Andrew was just an ordinary man. But he selflessly reached out to his brother Peter with the good news of Jesus Christ—and, oh, what a difference it made!

Secondly, Andrew was an ordinary man who thought and acted optimistically.

In John 6 we are told that Jesus was preaching to a crowd of 5000, when the dinner hour arrived. Suddenly those thousands who had come with hungry souls to hear the words of Jesus realized they had hungry mouths as well. There was no food. Jesus then asked His disciples how they could get enough food to feed all those people. Andrew immediately chimed in: “It is not much, Lord, but I have a boy here who has five loaves and a couple of fish.” Five thousand people and five loaves. Only an eternal optimist like Andrew could ever have offered that as a potential solution.

Now you know that story well. But I want to ask you something you may not have thought about. How do you think Andrew knew about the little picnic lunch the boy was carrying? Remember, please, that children were generally despised in the ancient world. They had no rights and little or no worth. They were commanded to sit in the corner, keep their mouths shut and wait until they grew up. But obviously, Andrew did not accept that kind of thinking. He had made friends with this boy. Perhaps the boy had been at Andrew’s side all morning. Andrew was the kind of man who would take a little boy under his wing, get to know him, tell him stories, make him laugh, encourage him to live the good life. It has been said that you can always trust a man if stray dogs and children follow him. So Andrew was a man who loved and cared for children. We see that in this story about the little boy. Of course, what is important is that Andrew did for that little boy the same thing he had done for Peter—he brought him to Jesus, and the miracle followed.

“What can a child do?” we often ask. The answer is “a lot” when someone brings that child to Jesus. An unknown Presbyterian preacher received a gawky lad into his church and that lad grew up to be David Livingstone whose Christian influence is felt even today on the African continent. They laid Livingstone to rest in Westminster Abbey, but they ought to build a monument to the memory of that preacher who led him to Christ.

Or what about the time in the last century when a blizzard struck a little village in England one Sunday morning. The minister did not show up at church that day because of the weather, but fifteen hearty souls were there including a boy in his early teens. A layman in the congregation decided to lead the service. He announced as his text the words of the Lord: “Look unto me and be saved all the ends of the earth.” Since the man had not prepared anything to say, he just kept repeating that verse. Finally, he turned to the boy and said: “Son, you look miserable. I understand. But you need to look to Jesus in your life and obey my text.” The words of that verse and the attention of that unknown layman cut to the boy’s heart. That boy’s name was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and he went on to become one of the greatest preachers in Christian history.

Or I think of a girl born to peasant parents in the town of Skopje, Yugoslavia. They called her Agnes. At age 10, Agnes came under the loving care of a priest who introduced her to Jesus and set her to dreaming about serving Christ among the poor in India. No one remembers the name of that priest, but he planted a seed that grew. Did it ever! You see, Agnes had another name—Teresa. We know her as Mother Teresa, the most admired woman of this century.

Or perhaps you know the name of Mordecai Hamm. No? Well, he was a preacher who once was preaching God’s Word in Charlotte, North Carolina. As Mordecai Hamm spoke clearly and winsomely about Jesus, there was a boy listening to him whose ears heard the words and whose heart was moved. The boy was led to commit his life to Jesus Christ. You may not have heard of Mordecai Hamm, but you have certainly heard of that boy. His name is Billy Graham.

My friends, when Andrew brought the little boy to Jesus, Jesus was able to use him to bless the multitudes. Christ is still using children who are brought to him. Wise parents are still bringing their children to Jesus that He might touch them, bless them, and make of them a blessing in building God’s kind of world. And the church that looks to children and looks after children and encourages children to look to Jesus in life is a church that lives. There can be no tomorrow for the church that neglects to introduce its children to the Master.

The reason I feel so good about the future of this church is not because of its buildings or its location or its history or its leaders. It is because of its children. We are an old, established downtown church absolutely awash in young children. The more of them we have the better I like it. And we are going to do everything we can by the Spirit of God to bring those children to Jesus Christ. Then the miracles will occur. I want us to be like Andrew. He was optimistic enough to see the potential in a child once that child was placed in the hands of Jesus.

Thirdly, Andrew was an ordinary man who thought and acted universally.

In John 12, we are told that some Greeks, some Gentiles, had heard some reports about Jesus and they were interested in knowing more about Him. They approached Andrew and Andrew did what he always did—he brought them to Jesus. You see, Andrew understood Jesus so well that he knew that there was no one whom Jesus did not wish to see and that there was no time when Jesus was too busy to give Himself to a searcher for truth.

My guess is that the other disciples chided and criticized Andrew for bringing to Jesus those who were not properly Jewish. But Andrew’s vision for the kingdom was bigger than that. He clearly believed that Jesus had come for all people no matter their skin color, their social class or their national origin. He believed that Jesus could change the world and all the people of the world.

Let me tell you of another man who sought to change the world. He got his plan for changing the world from studying the life of Jesus. He saw that Jesus, working just three years with twelve ordinary men, had altered the course of human history. He then discovered a four-fold strategy in the ministry of Jesus. One, Jesus was aware of people’s needs, hurts, hopes, and plights. Two, Jesus occasionally withdrew to plan, reflect and meditate on what His message would be. Three, Jesus entrusted His message not to the masses, but to a few who were willing to live what He taught. Four, Jesus gave everything He had, including His life, for that small band. This man then twisted that strategy into his own plan to change the world. The man’s name was Karl Marx. The plan was the Communist Manifesto. Today more than a billion people live under the oppression of his plan.

Lenin, Marx’s chief disciple, said this: “I hope that those who call themselves Christian will never read their Bibles, for if they do they will find in its pages a revolution that makes ours appear weak, passive and docile by comparison.”

Andrew understood that and so he opened the door to the power of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world. We need to understand it as well. Give us a church full of Andrews, ordinary people who are willing to share the extraordinary message of Jesus Christ with other ordinary people, and the gates of hell shall be shattered. Give us a church full of Andrews and you will see the dynamic power of Jesus Christ cut loose in this city and in this country and in this world.

Mass evangelism is certainly worthwhile. Small group evangelism is to be encouraged. But the fact is that the most effective means of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is from person to person. People like Andrew, who go from home to home, office to office, bearing their quiet but effective testimony to the saving power of Jesus Christ are still the hope of our world.

So…

Trisha and I visited a bombed-out church in the city of Berlin. All that was left was the church tower and a large statue of Jesus Christ. The statue remained upon its pedestal, but its arms had been blasted away. As I looked into the handsome, pleading face of Christ, I thought how awful that He had no arms with which to bless and heal people. Then I realized that that war-scarred statue is an accurate portrayal of my Jesus. The only hands He has to bless the world are our hands. The only arms He has with which to embrace the people of the world are our arms. The only voice He has to speak to human hearts is our voice.

Let me put it this way. Jesus Christ accomplishes His will and His work in the world through us. Without Christ, we can’t. Without us, Christ won’t. He could, but He won’t. We are to be His hands. We are to be His feet. We are to be His voice. We are to be His witnesses to the world about us. We are to be like Andrew.

Are you willing?
Are you ready?
Are you available?

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