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Andrew, James and John

We have been studying the first twelve disciples of Jesus. In the past few weeks we have mentioned how Jesus viewed the world as a vast mission field of sheep without a shepherd that were lost and heading to their ultimate destruction. (Matthew 9:36) We discussed that the discipleship plan of Jesus was to pray to the Father for workers, to appoint those whom the Father gave Him, train them and then to send them out to teach and to heal. In Matthew chapter 10 verse 1 Jesus called his disciples together an “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” (Matthew 10:1) In verse two Jesus sent them out as Apostles. Disciples are learners and Apostles are sent ones. This sending in Matthew 10 was their first sending as interns and was part of their training. They were not sent out alone and they were not sent far away from their teacher, Jesus. The Apostles spent three years with Jesus in training in which Jesus taught them what they would need to know to fulfill their mission. After the resurrection and Jesus’s ascension to Heaven they were given power on the Day of Pentecost and sent out to evangelize to the uttermost parts of the world. (Acts 2:1-4)

Last week we looked at the foremost disciple Simon Peter. Jesus saw in Peter the raw material needed to become a dynamic leader. Peter was the one who had initiative, he was the one who would ask the questions because he had to know, Peter not only asked the questions but he answered the questions as well, Peter was always in the middle of the action because of his boldness, and Peter became the leader of the other disciples and instrumental in the beginning of the early church.

As we mentioned before the disciples were called into three groups. Each group diminished in its closeness with Jesus but yet they were the twelve chosen out of the many that followed Jesus during His three year ministry. The first group and the closet to Jesus was Peter, Andrew, James and John. Last week we looked at Peter and this week we will look at the other members of this first group, Andrew, James and John.

Andrews name means “manly” and he was Simon Peter’s brother. The hometown of Andrew and Simon Peter was Bethsaida. (John 1:44) Andrew John were the first disciples called by Jesus. We read this in John 1:38 and the account is that Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist. On the day that Jesus appeared John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36) After hearing this both Andrew and John followed after Jesus. When Jesus saw Andrew and John following Him he turned and asked what it was that they seek. Andrew asked, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” (John 1:38) Jesus answered and bid them to come and see. Andrew and John spent the day with Jesus. Immediately after that Andrew went to find His brother, Simon Peter, and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41) A certain meekness is displayed by Andrew telling his brother Simon Peter that he had found the Messiah. Andrew must have known that if He told his brother about Jesus that Peter would have taken over the lead and Andrew would not be in the spotlight of events. But this displays a valued quality, humility, and is a lesson for all of us that are servants of Jesus that we must consider the value of others above ourselves. Andrew was in the first group of four but he was never in the inner three with Simon Peter, James and John.

Andrew is probably most noted as the way to Jesus. We see Andrew mentioned three times in the gospel of John. In John 1:40 we find Andrew telling his brother that they have found the Messiah. In John 6:8-9 Andrew brings a boy with the five loafs of bread and two fish to Jesus to feed the five thousand. These were not five loafs of bread like we buy at the grocery store but more the size of crackers. They would take the cracker loafs and place the pickled fish between them for a small meal. It is hard to imagine what Andrew was thinking that five cracker loafs and two small fish would be of much use in a crowd of five thousand. But Andrew had witnessed Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast. Andrew must have been a man of great faith to believe that Jesus could multiply such a small offering into enough to feed so many. Again in John 12:20-22 we see some Greeks coming to Philip and asking to see Jesus. Philip, who was in group two and possibly did not have as ready an access to Jesus, sent them to Andrew who in turn introduced them to Jesus.

Andrew was not self-seeking for his own recognition but quietly labored to bring people to Jesus. We all have our abilities and tasks to do for the advancement of the Kingdom of God and we should accept our position and seek the honor of our Lord only. Not everyone can be out front, like Andrew’s brother Simon Peter, leading the charge. Some of us need to work quietly with diligence doing our part to lead people to Jesus. It takes people like Andrew to reach people like his brother Simon Peter, the little boy with a small amount of food to feed the great multitudes, and to bring others into the presence of the Lord. It is no small accomplishment for someone who just leads people to Jesus.

James always appears with his brother John. James was the older of the two and it may have been out of respect for that position that he is always mentioned first. Most likely James was the stronger willed as it is known that he had great zeal about him and was very ambitious in his manner. It was the brothers, James and John, that Jesus named “The Sons of Thunder.” (Mark 3:17) Sometimes zeal brings along with it a lack of wisdom because ambitions tend to make us move faster than thoughtful planning and realization of the full situation. On the way to Jerusalem Jesus sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village and the people there rejected them. It is said that the Samaritans drove them out with cursing and throwing stones at them. It was James and John, when they heard of this that asked the Lord if they should call fire and brimstone down upon the Samaritans. Jesus rebuked them by saying they were not of the proper spirit. Jesus reminded them that He “the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55-56) At this point James and John were not displaying a true missionary heart. Ambition is a good quality but not if it lacks sensitivity.

In Matthew 20:20-23 it was the mother of James and John that asked Jesus if her sons, James and John, could sit at His right and left hand. Jesus rebuked them asking are they willing to drink of the cup that Jesus would have to drink and they said that they were. Sometimes we can become too full of ourselves and think our capabilities are greater than they are.

In Acts 12 King Herod wanted to attack the church and he did so by killing the most aggressive of the Apostles, James. James the one who was filled with great zeal, who was always charging forward to accomplish the work of the kingdom, who brought many to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but also made many enemies in the Jewish establishment. King Herod, wanting to put a stop ti this disturbance causes by those of the way went right to James. King Herod had Simon Peter put in prison but James he had executed. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred and his ministry lasted for only fourteen years. James was the first to die for their faith in Jesus and John was the last apostle to die. John was exiled and lived to be near 100 years old. There was at one time a Roman coin with an ox upon it. The ox faced an altar and a plow and the inscription on the coin read “ready for either.” James was sacrificed on the altar for his faith in Jesus by the sword, while John labored long and hard living a long life. They each drink from the cup that Jesus had drank and they drank every drop of it, James and John, today do rule from thrones of their own over the tribes of Israel. But the way to the throne is by the way of the cross.

John like his brother James shared some of the same characteristics. He was ambitious and devout in his beliefs. John also was a disciple of John the Baptist like Andrew and was a seeker of the truth. But with his aggressive nature John was also contemplative and had a great capacity for love. Yet John was sectarian which caused him to be narrow minded. It was John that was upset with others apart from the twelve. In Mark 9:39-40 John had tried to stop others from casting out demons and then reported the event to Jesus. Jesus rebuked John saying that “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. “For he who is not against us is for us.”

John wrote the Gospel of John and identified himself as “The disciple whom Jesus loved” throughout the gospel. John never identifies himself by name. People who have a great capacity for love are generally well loved them self. Love was a major focus in His Gospel and the three Epistles that he wrote. Eighty times in the gospel John uses the word love.

John was also a truth seeker. He was seeking the truth when he was a disciple of John the Baptist and when He met Jesus he knew that he had found the truth. John became a witness of the truth and the word witness is used seventy times in his gospel.

John was also a visionary. It was John that was taken up on the Isle of Patmos and wrote the book of Revelation. In Revelation John reveals the vision that was given to him of the end times and of the new heaven and earth that are to come.

These are the Apostles of the first group of four. Last week we spoke about Simon Peter and now we have talked about the other three Andrew, James and John. These of the first group were the ones that were the closet to Jesus. They each possessed their own unique qualities but none greater or smaller than you or I. They were common people who through the power of the Holy Spirit accomplished uncommon achievement.

Simon Peter who was dynamic and foremost of the twelve. He was the one who possessed the raw ability to be the leader. At the end of his ministry he was crucified upside down because in his humility he felt unworthy to be crucified as his master. For three days he hung on the cross upside down repeating remember the Lord. Andrew a humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ who sought not the sport light but the lost sheep and led them to Jesus. He too was faithful to the point of death for his faith in Jesus and was crucified on a cross in the shape of an X. For two days he hung on his cross preaching the gospel that he might lead one more lost soul to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. James who was full of zeal to serve his Lord. His ministry lasted a short fourteen years when King Herod cut it short by beheading him. On his way to his execution the Roman guard who escorted him was so impressed by his faith that he asked James for his forgiveness and gave his life to the Lord. Andrew and the Roman Guard were both Executed for their faith in Jesus. They dies together by the sword but now live their life through Jesus their Lord and Savior in the bonds of love before the heavenly Father. John who labored long in the service of his master died in exile on the Isle of Patmos. They had tried to kill him by boiling him in oil but were unable as his work was yet not complete. All the while John referred to his fellow believers as “little children” and continuously commanded them to “Love one another.”

There greatest qualities was not what they were but what they were through the power of Jesus Christ willing to become. Perhaps that was there greatest gift to you and me, their willingness to commit to the work of the gospel and not set their cross down until their race was run.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, May 11, 2014

Durant Bible College

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