Message by: Rev.
Carol Kniseley /
In case you are wondering where we are… let me assure you,
we are on the east side of
Despite what you may have heard, we’re not talking about just one or two people forgetting to pack their lunch for the day. Oh no…we’re talking about thousands of people! Five thousand at least! And it was one of the disciples who brought to Jesus’ attention the only food to be found for miles around. I tell you that Andrew was a good man to have around when things got a little uncomfortable. Perhaps his finest achievement was his ability to bring people into the Lord’s presence. He possessed the grace to get others to risk approaching the source of all grace, Jesus himself.
November 30 is the day many churches celebrate as Saint Andrew’s day. Maybe it would help us to better understand Andrew if we went back and discovered for ourselves exactly what Andrew said and did. He first met Jesus when he wasn’t really looking for him at all. Having been enthralled by the electrifying message of John the baptizer, it wasn’t hard to see that even Andrew found himself on a constant lookout for the one to come, namely, the Messiah.
It wasn’t until Jesus walked by…and John clearly said: ‘Behold the Lamb of God…’ that Andrew could stand it no longer. He had to know for himself if the rumors were true…and so he turned and began following after Jesus. It was then that Jesus turned and said: “What are you looking for?” To which he replied: “Where are you staying?” “Come and see,” was all the invitation that Andrew needed to hear.
The day after this initial encounter, Andrew is already eager to start in whatever direction Jesus points. Beginning with his own brother, Peter. “We have found the Messiah!” Andrew shouts, barely able to control his enthusiasm! Notice what Andrew did not say. He does not say, “Uh Peter, I think there is someone you should meet. Perhaps you and I can chat afterwards and you can tell me what you think.” I don’t think so. Andrew is eager to involve anyone, including Peter, who, if the truth were known, has more often than not told Andrew to simmer down and quit getting so worked up about the latest holy man to hit town.
The thing is, thanks to Andrew’s infectious enthusiasm, Peter does come to meet Jesus. And he won’t be the only one to follow Andrew’s lead either. If Andrew did not have this quality before he met Jesus, he seems to have picked it up quite naturally as he turned into the great “go-between” in this Gospel adventure. He had the capacity to make links between people without threatening them or alienating them in any way. Andrew attracted people to each other by first attracting them to himself…not for his own sake…but to pass them on to the Lord.
Three times it happened. First, as we saw, with Andrew’s own brother, Peter. And secondly, about a year later…on a hillside, with a hungry crowd of thousands. It was “practical” Andrew who took off to find a solution…and what he found was a young boy with a meager basket of five loaves and two scrawny fish. And although this may look like a worthless effort to you and to me…what Andrew has done is to exercise his gift of bringing people into a relationship with Jesus. Knowing full well that someone with a far greater gift will take over from here.
Some folks are just natural “go-betweens”. Not knowing that Andrew was the man they needed, on another occasion a group of Greeks who had heard about Jesus asked Philip if they might speak to the teacher. Philip knew exactly who to turn to, and it is Andrew, not Philip, who gracefully makes the introduction. Perhaps the real key here is that Andrew’s “grace” shines in his ability to be a go-between. And just perhaps, it was Jesus himself who saw in this first disciple…a hint of what he himself knew he would have to face. Andrew’s gift to all those around him, including us, was the gift of “self-effacement…for the sake of others”.
When Pilate asked Jesus if he was a “king” …Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth…listens to my voice.” Unlike Pilate, Andrew not only recognized the truth when he heard it…he listened to it’s message. Every ounce of Andrew’s being pointed him in the same direction to which John the baptizer had been pointing: to Jesus himself. It was then that Andrew marked his place in history…by being the first person to respond to Jesus’ call. It is interesting that Matthew’s gospel tells the story of Andrew’s call in a different way. He says that the two brothers were mending their nets when Jesus appeared. Who knows? There is no reason why they could not have been chatting with John the baptizer at the same time. What is important for us to hear is that Matthew tells us that they followed Jesus immediately.
how we say of someone whom we have loved for many years, “When we met, I immediately knew that this was the
person for me.” The days when love was
being sown, the weeks and months when love was growing, deepening, and
blossoming have gone from memory.
There remains only the immediacy
of love. The first disciple to respond
to Jesus’ call…would have understood this better than anyone else. He was the first to step out in
faith…believing that the