ST. STEPHEN’S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Striving to speak God’s saving truth in love. Ephesians 4:15
St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School | Beaver Dam, WI | 920.885.3309
What do you know about the apostle Andrew? If your answer is, “Not too much,” there is good reason for that. Accounts of what he did and said do not come up a lot in the gospels. Things we know about him: He was a former fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. He is listed among the 12 apostles, but outside of that, there are only 3 accounts of him saying or doing anything else. He was the one who brought the boy who had the little bit of fish and bread that Jesus turned into more than enough food for over 5,000 people. (Jn 6:8-9) He also at another time, brought a few Greeks to Jesus, who wanted to see him. (John 12:20-22) And then there is what we have today, Andrew bringing his brother, Peter, to Jesus. (So in all the accounts of Andrew in the gospels, we have him bringing someone to Jesus, and today he begins at home.) But what I want you to notice is that Andrew is not the only one doing something here. He is rather just another domino in a domino effect.
Where we pick up, we are in the middle of things. We are at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, he is right about 30 years old. The day before, John the Baptist, had spotted Jesus and called him the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) We begin on the next day, and we have John the Baptist there again, this time two of his disciples are with him. (v.35) We are not told who they are right away. But we are told, what John said next to those disciples, when he saw Jesus again that day, passing by. (v.36a) John sets off a domino effect. He says about Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (v.36b) That phrase would have had special significance for the Jewish people. A lamb was one of the most common, if not the most common, sacrifice in the OT. It would have been one that the people used and saw, day after day, in the Temple, burning on the altar. Also a lamb was the animal that they saw every Passover festival. For they all heard and knew the account. God told Moses and the Israelites to take a lamb, slaughter it, and paint its blood on their doorframes. That way God would pass over their houses in Egypt and not kill their firstborn. That lamb’s blood literally saved their lives. God had also promised that someone else would come to save their lives once again, not just their physical lives, but also their spiritual lives; not just at one time, but for all time; not just temporally, but eternally. When John calls Jesus, the Lamb of God, that would have all been called to mind in that one little phrase.
You see, that is why the two disciples leave their former teacher and start following Jesus. (v.37) They wanted to follow the one who would take care of them for time and eternity. As they follow, Jesus notices them, and asks the obvious question, “What are you looking for?” (v.38a) He has some strangers following him, so he wants to know what they are seeking? Notice their answer, “Rabbi (which means Teacher) where are you staying?” (v.38b) Rabbi means “Teacher,” someone who teaches you something. But rabbi means more than just that. The Jewish people, also use that word like our word, pastor, someone who preaches God’s Word to you. But rabbi means more than just that. A rabbi did both of those things, but you also would follow him around, you would stay with him. You would learn from him everything you could. You would spend as long as it took to learn all that he knew in order to follow his example and be a disciple of his. That’s why these two disciples asked where Jesus was staying. They wanted to become his disciples and have him be their rabbi. So what does Jesus say?
“Come and you will see.” (v.39a) They saw where he was staying and they end up staying that whole day with him. (v.39b) We are told that it was getting late, it was about 4pm. A typical day for people at this time was from 6am to 6pm. Remember that this was a time without electricity and light posts at night. When it got dark or it got close to dark, you would stay inside the house. But what does one of those two disciples do, before it gets too dark?
One of the two disciples is named, finally. (v.40) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, goes and finds his brother. Andrew and Peter were fishermen together on the Sea of Galilee, so it would have been pretty easy to find Peter. He would most likely be with their fishing boat, maybe counting and cleaning his catch for that day.
But the interesting thing that we are told about Andrew is this: the first thing, the very first thing, that Andrew does, after John the Baptist told him who Jesus was, after following Jesus, after spending the day with Jesus, he goes and finds that brother of his. (v.41a) Why? What does he want to tell him? Some exciting news!
“We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” (v.41b) The joy and/or shock of that statement may be lost on us today. But just put yourself into the sandals of Andrew. All his life, he had heard about the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. He had heard from the OT Scriptures. He had heard from John the Baptist, his former rabbi. But not only him, but all the Jewish people, for centuries, had heard and hoped to see their Savior, the Messiah. Each and every generation, had been looking, waiting, and hoping to see the one who would take away the sins of the world. And now, Andrew knows who that is: the one that the entire world had been awaiting. Andrew has some exciting news indeed. He had to share it and he shares it with his brother, Simon, someone he had grown up with, someone he had known his entire life, someone that he shared a job with. So someone that he cared a lot about. He wants to tell him about his Messiah.
But Andrew doesn’t just tell Simon, he takes Simon to Jesus. (v.42a) He wants Simon to be a disciple of this rabbi, Jesus. Jesus looks at Peter and says, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).” (v.42b) Simon was this person’s given name, the name his father, John had given him. Jesus also gives him the nickname, Cephas, Aramaic, which means the same thing as the Greek name, Peter, both meaning “rock.” That nickname would be a little clue to how important Peter would be in the future. He would become the most vocal of the 12 apostles, if not their leader at times. Of all the apostles, we probably know the most about Peter, he comes up a lot in the gospels. We hear of his successes and failures. He becomes very important in the early Christian church. And Peter, this rock, this man we know a lot about, was first brought to Jesus by his brother, Andrew, someone we know very little about. And that is where the text ends. But you see the domino effect just in these verses. John the Baptist points out Jesus to Andrew. Andrew points out Jesus to Peter. One domino affecting another.
It is just like in our own lives as well. All of us are like dominoes that have been lined up and then the first one gets knocked down. The next one is knocked down, then the next, then the next, then the next. God used someone to point Jesus out to us. God used someone to bring us before his Word so that the Holy Spirit could create faith in us. That domino that knocked us down, could have been our parents, who read to us from God’s Word, who made sure we grew up in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That domino could have been a friend, who lived and shared their faith with us, even when we did not want to hear it. That domino could have been the spouse that we married, who wanted us to know what the Bible teaches and had us go through BIC. That domino could have been a pastor or teacher we met, who shared God’s Word with us. Whatever the domino, it had an effect, because we all are here today, still hearing God’s Word.
And like all good dominoes that get knocked down, they make the next domino fall down. For what happens if one domino doesn’t fall just right, or doesn’t cause the next domino to fall down? The domino effect stops. No more dominoes keep falling down. It’s kind of disappointing. It just doesn’t look right.
That’s the same in our life as well, in our faith as well. Be like Andrew. He shared this message about the Messiah with someone that he cared so much about, Peter. But first of all, someone who cared about him, John the Baptist, shared the message of the Messiah. We can share that message too with someone we care about. The best message of all. We can share, because someone first shared that message with us. You are a domino in this effect.
And like any good domino effect, when all the dominoes fall down, you have a good design. All the dominos, having fallen just right, each having done their role, make something bigger, larger, better than themselves. So it is with us dominoes. After we have done our role in this effect, what is the better design? It is The CHURCH of God, the whole company of believers, past, present, and future, together in heaven, with Jesus, our Lamb, there with us. What a domino effect! Amen.