Andrew has always had a special place in my heart. He was the little brother to Peter, and although he was partners with James and John in their fishing business, Andrew was not a part of the inner circle with Jesus. Peter, James, and John were invited to go up on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured, and he wasn’t there when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Andrew wasn’t invited to come away from the rest of the apostles and pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In fact, if we didn’t have John’s gospel, Andrew would just be a name on the list of the apostles. However, in the Gospel of John, Andrew comes alive.
First, John and Andrew were disciples of John the Baptist (John 1). They saw John point to Jesus and call him the “lamb of God.” Together, Andrew and John followed Jesus and listened to him. Then John went and found his brother James, and Andrew found his older brother Peter, and they brought them to meet Jesus.
Later, when Jesus asked the apostles to feed the crowd, it was Andrew who brought the boy who had some bread and fish to Jesus. (That must have been embarrassing to Peter! But that. Is what little brothers are best at – embarrassing their older brothers.)
Finally, a group of Greeks wanted to meet Jesus, but they felt like they needed an introduction, so they approached the Apostle Philip. (Philip is a good Greek name.) Philip wasn’t sure what to do, but Philip asked Andrew’s advice rather than put them off. Together, Philip and Andrew introduced them to Jesus.
Beyond the pages of the New Testament, there are a host of legends about Andrew. Eusebius quoted Origen as saying Andrew preached in Scythia. Others claim Andrew preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper River as far as Kiev, making him the patron saint of Ukraine, Romania, and Russia. Some claim he visited Spain, and the Scots claim Andrew first brought them the gospel. The flag of Scotland is a white x-shaped cross (called a saltire) on a blue field. (The British flag, the Union Jack imposes the red cross of St. George over the red x-shaped cross of St. Patrick, over the white x-shaped cross of Andrew). According to Hippolytus of Rome, Andrew preached in Thrace. Tradition says Andrew was martyred in Achaia in Greece on an x-shaped cross where he died of exposure.
In his wonderful little book, The Master’s Men, William Barclay sees a common theme in each of these three stories. Andrew introduced people to Jesus. What could be a better epitaph or example for us to follow?