Short Meditations in John 1: 40. Introducing Andrew
Jn 1:40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus.
Andrew has the privilege of being the first of Jesus’ future disciples mentioned in this Gospel. Bear in mind that later on we are told he is a fisherman from Galilee and yet this fisherman has left his work and gone south with hundreds of others to repent and be baptised by John but, even more, has stayed on and has been described by John the writer as one of John’s disciples, one who had stayed with John the Baptist to be taught and perhaps to help him in his ministry – and now he goes off after Jesus and spends the day with him.
But note he is also described as “Simon Peter’s brother.” It seemed he was always in the shadow of Simon Peter and so perhaps Simon was the elder brother. How many of us live in the shadow of an ‘older brother’, someone in the family who always seems to have ranked higher than us? Such a thing can make you feel second class, but that is not the truth about you; it is simply the way things grew up but you are not second class. Andrew is about to become the one who introduced Peter to Jesus. Without him it might not have happened.
The other Gospels hardly mention Andrew but John, with the reflection of the years, thinks back and realises there was more to Andrew than meets the eye. At the feeding of the five thousand it was Andrew who brought forward the boy with the loaves and fishes (Jn 6:8,9). This suggests he was someone who talked to people, even lowly people like this child and found out that he had some provisions.
Later on some Greeks came and wanted to see Jesus and approaches Philip. Now instead of going directly to Jesus, he went first to Andrew who then took them to Jesus (Jn 12:20-22). This suggests that he was a go-between man, approachable by those who felt unworthy of approaching Jesus, but at the same time being sufficiently close to Jesus that he felt easy in asking for access. Yet he wasn’t part of that innermost group that actually comprised Peter, James and John who, for instance, Jesus took up the mount of transfiguration with him (Mt 17:1).
Presumably after this time there was a time when they each returned to Galilee to resume their work for it was from there that they each had their specific calling by Jesus to follow him and leave their fishing to become fishers of men (Mt 4:18-20). A complex story.