John 1:35-42, 6:1-13, 12:20-36
We don’t get very much information in scripture that is specific to Andrew. There isn’t a very big window to view his personality, thought processes, or actions like we have for a few of the other disciples. Even though we don’t have much information I think we can look at the few verses we have and find some help on how to follow Jesus better in our lives.
We learn from John 1 that Andrew knew John the Baptist and followed his teachings. Andrew was actually with John when Jesus went by one day. When John said who Jesus was, Andrew left John and followed Jesus. Even before meeting Jesus, he believed in Him and accepted Him as his Messiah. This shows that he had a soft heart toward God and faith that God had a plan. Andrew knew he had found someone precious when he met Jesus. He was so excited, that he left Jesus and went to find his brother. He wanted to share his excitement for hope with his family. Are we still excited about sharing our Savior with others? Have we been quick to tell our loved ones that we have found hope and a Savior?
John 6 tells us about Jesus miracle of multiplying the five loaves of bread and two fish. When a huge crowd (5,000 men, this number doesn’t include women and children) gathered around Jesus and his disciples, the disciples felt a responsibility to feed the people. Andrew speaks up. “There is a boy here with bread and fish.” “But what good is that with this huge crowd?” Is the hope in His miracle-working Messiah shining through Andrew’s announcement about the small basket of supplies? Practicality sets in and he realizes how foolish his solution sounds to others and he follows up his announcement with a more realistic question. What good is this little bit of food? Do we see Jesus first in an impossible situation or do we use our human resources and processes to discount God’s ability to provide answers that are not humanly available?
Later in John, Philip, another disciple of Jesus’ from Andrew’s hometown, comes to Andrew to get help checking with Jesus about meeting some out of town guests. This lets us know that Andrew was accessible to others and it was high priority to him to bring others to Jesus. Are we available to be interrupted? Do other’s know they can come to us with issues and they will get our time, wisdom and help? Do we make showing other’s Jesus our top priority in life?
Let’s close this morning with Jesus words to Andrew and the rest of the disciples in John 12. “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” Jesus is telling us that we need to be so committed to living for Him that we care nothing for our own lives by comparison. We have to turn away from the rule of self-centeredness that we are all are slave to. We need to put off our drive in life for advantage, security and pleasure so we can love God with our whole selves. Being willing to give up control of our lives to allow Christ to control us brings eternal life and true joy. I think we fear giving up control because we don’t fully grasp how much God loves us. We look at what we may be asked to give up rather than the fact that the Creator of the universe, the One who gave His life to buy us back from eternity separated from Him, actually desires a relationship with us. He loves us so much that He not only purchases us with His own life, but He also wants to help us change. This kind of love is so much more lavish and rich than the fear we have of missing out here on earth. He wants to give us eternal life, true joy, and relationship with Him while we are still on this earth.
We all know that God should be controlling our hearts and minds, but how do we actually do it? I wish I had a formula that I could add here to help us all accomplish this goal. In my earlier years I probably would have been dumb enough or arrogant enough to try to write one. As I get older in my relationship with God I realize that nothing changes without His work in my heart. God’s word tells us this truth over and over, I just never really grasped it. I thought I could do it if I tried hard enough. A good place to start in being willing to give up control of my heart to Christ is asking for His help. Let me rephrase, change comes in consistently asking for help to put my heart in His hands. This is not a onetime, weekly or even monthly request. Every time I talk with Him I ask for His help in softening my heart, allowing him to enter new areas of my heart and to clean house in those areas, and to help me be more deeply devoted to putting my heart in His hands every day. I am finding that true change is slow. Real progress in giving up control to God takes time with Him every day that I can, with a heart that knows I can’t do it on my own. I also know how painful change can be so I ask Him to be as gentle with me as He possibly can and still accomplish His plan. (Maybe if I could be braver this process wouldn’t take as long…) I am also learning to live a little bit more in grace with this process. Instead of looking for complete surrender in all areas of my heart, (and feeling like a failure every time I realize I’m not) I’m learning to see that more areas of my heart are surrendered now than were 5 years ago. This is evidence of God’s work and I am grateful to Him for this change! I can also see that in a few of the areas that are surrendered, some are more deeply surrendered than they were in the past… again, evidence of His handy-work in my heart. The best change that I can measure, is that I started my day with Him more days this year than any other year in my life so far. It is clear to me that this particular change has facilitated all of the other progress that has been made in my heart. It is His grace, His time, and His gifts that are making me different than I used to be.
I wonder how this all worked in Andrew’s life. He got to spend a number of years in intensely close relationship with Jesus. Do you think he had a better grip on surrendering his heart to God than we do because of his relationship with Jesus? He got to see complete surrender lived out perfectly, but I have a feeling that the learning curve was so steep, and the life they all lived together was so fast paced and intense, it was hard to process it all until later in his life. We all have different experiences and different paths in life. We all have to decide who will rule our hearts. If we don’t consciously make a choice to surrender to God, our default setting is most definitely self.