What’s in a name? Take Andrew for example. The word means “man.” That’s it. There’s no larger metaphor attached to it. It’s as if his parents took a look at the boy child and suddenly were at a loss as to what to call him. So they took the easy way out — “He’ll be a man so we’ll call him Man.” It’s not so unusual. My uncle once taught a class in a small Maryland town that included students officially named “Boy Jacobs” and “Female Wilson.”
Andrew is a fairly simple designation as Bible names go. Page through the Scriptures and we find Israel, meaning “Prince with God,” Peter, “a stone,” and John, “Yahweh is gracious” to name a few. Also, there’s Ichabod — “glory has departed” and Lo-ruhamah — “no mercy.” Those are big and significant connotations.
Andrew? It’s a name that doesn’t seem to carry so much weight, and maybe that’s a good thing. When we study the details about the man — the Apostle — who carried this name, we get to know someone whose life was one of simple and direct obedience.
Andrew was a man all right, a man after God’s heart.
Beholder of the Lamb
We learn most about Andrew from the gospel of John. He, like James and John, the men Jesus called the sons of thunder, was a follower of John the Baptist.
One day John pointed out Jesus clearly — “Behold the Lamb of God!” (See John 1:36.) That was enough for Andrew, who was with John, the Apostle and writer of this gospel. The two of them chased down Jesus.
“What do you want?” Christ asked them. “Rabbi, where do you live?” They asked. “Come and see,” the Lord said, and so Andrew and John came and saw. They spent a day with Jesus, as He began to gather His group of student-leaders, the men who walk and talk with Him and later turn the world upside down as witnesses of His resurrection and carriers of the Gospel of salvation.
Andrew couldn’t keep these developments to himself. He ran to tell his brother, Simon, a name which means “listen” by the way.
“We have found the Messiah,” Andrew told him.
How did Simon take this news from his little brother? Being an older brother myself, I am thinking Simon was likely a bit wary of Andrew’s fascination with and forays into the Baptist’s community. This man dressed in leather and camel’s hair, subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey, and lived down by the river Jordan. He preached loud and long about repentance, of the need to turn to God. He declared a Kingdom was to come and spoke of the King who stood among the people.
John the Baptist was notable for a lot of the wrong reasons. Still, common people — soldiers and shepherds and fishermen like Andrew, John and Simon — heard him gladly and took heed of the message.Simon listened and followed Andrew to Jesus. Click To Tweet
For whatever reason, on this day, Simon took his brother’s words seriously. Simon listened and followed Andrew to Jesus — “And when Jesus beheld him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of John: you shall be called Peter, which is by interpretation, a stone” (see John 1:42).
Peter, as we know, grew into one of central figures in the early Church movement. He was the powerful, Spirit-filled preacher at Pentecost (see Acts 2); his shadow healed those it fell upon; he obediently and boldly entered into the house of the Gentile Cornelius and sparked the Gospel movement to all nations.
None of this happened, however, without the man Andrew. Bringing people to Jesus characterized his life. It was Andrew who brought the lad with two loaves and five fish to the Lord, and so thousands were fed (see John 6). A couple of Greeks said to the Apostle Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Philip went to Andrew who said, “Let’s go and tell Jesus.”
“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12:23).
A man with a simple name simply followed the Lord. It makes such a difference.
Ordinary People with Extraordinary Faith
Through the ages, there are hundreds of stories like this one. They involve ordinary people who are extraordinary in the faith.
Mr. Kimball, a Sunday School teacher in Boston, was determined to pray for an 18-year-old boot salesman named Dwight L. Moody. He spoke to Moody of the love of Christ with what Kimball called a “very weak plea.” It was enough to change this salesman and set him on course to be one of the greatest evangelists of his era.
Charles Spurgeon spoke of how he was unhappy, despondent, and despairing at the age of 15. “I dreamed of hell,” Spurgeon said. He did this until one snowy day he ducked into the back of Primitive Methodist Chapel. A raw but real lay preacher taught from Isaiah 45:22 — “Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” Then, this rough and rugged man pointed to the teen-ager Spurgeon and shouted, “Look! Look, young man! Look now!”
It was enough. Spurgeon believed on the Lord and skipped home that day feeling clean as the fresh snow all about him. It was a beginning for the man who was to become known as the Prince of Preachers whose sermons were heard and read by thousands in London and beyond.
See, the Andrews of the Lord are everywhere, and their faith makes an eternal difference.
May we all choose to be like this “man” Andrew. May we behold the Lamb of God and follow after Him. And may we make it our mission to tell others how to find and follow Him.
For more about Andrew and about the sharing of our faith, check out “Have a God Heart,” a message preached by Steven Scibelli, Pastor and Missions Director for Greater Grace World Outreach in Baltimore.