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Saints!

Thursday
February 29th, 2024

jason toombs church page portraitPASTOR’S CORNER, Rev. Jason Toombs, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Liberal

 

There are many unsung saints in the Church, but Saint Andrew might be one of the most unheralded of the Apostles. The reason for this is evident when you look at how much is written about his brother, Simon Peter, and how little is written about Andrew. Peter, along with his fellow fishermen James and John, comprise the “Inner Three” Disciples, while Andrew, one of, if not, the first of the Disciples, is left outside those closest to Jesus. Andrew and Peter, along with James and John, are from the fishing village of Bethsaida in Galilee.

If we were to turn in our Bibles to Matthew’s Gospel, we see that “Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending the nets, and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him” (Matthew 4:18-23).

We see the same in Mark’s Gospel, 1:16-20, and we are told that he is the brother of Simon in Luke’s Gospel, but John’s Gospel takes us back to before this account, after all, it is John, the brother of James, who is writing this account, and we see Andrew standing with John the Baptizer (John 1:40). Let us fully hear John’s account of the calling of the first Disciples: 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

We see that Andrew is the one who brought Peter to Jesus. This is not the only time that Andrew is mentioned in the Gospels, for later it is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, who brings the boy with five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus’ attention (John 6:8-9). Also, it is Philip and Andrew who bring some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22) who tells them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

With the bringing of his brother, a Jew, and foreigners, Greeks, to Jesus, Saint Andrew is both a home missionary and a foreign missionary who desired that people would see, and hear, Jesus. This is what missionaries do in our day as well. Whether at home, or abroad, missionaries desire to deliver Jesus to those who do not yet know Him and bring them to Jesus. Church legend says that he was a missionary throughout the region of the Black Sea where he traveled to bring the proclamation of Jesus to the ends of the Roman Empire. 

Church legend also suggest that he was martyred around the year 60 A.D. as he was crucified. Further, some legends suggest that he was crucified on a cross in the shape of an X, the Greek letter Chi, which, along with the Greek letter Rho, shown as a P, are a symbol for Christ. If we are to believe this Church legend, and there is little to no historical reason to doubt this, he was martyred at Patras, in Achaea, or Achaia, Greece, located on the coast. He desired not to die in the same manner as his Lord, so he asked for a different shaped cross, similar to his brother Peter asking to be crucified upside down. Portions of this account are also found in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

For Andrew, much like for the Twelve, the ability to be a Disciple, a learner, and then elevated to Apostle, one who is sent, were highlights of his life. Whether awake of asleep, they belonged to Jesus and He would come to take His people to His side. The Church celebrates Saint Andrew on November 30th.