Epiphany 2B John 1:43-51
When you think of
the twelve disciples, what are some of the names that you think of?
If you were going to list the names of the twelve disciples, you
would begin with the name of the most famous disciple, Simon Peter.
When we think of Simon Peter, we often think of a person with a big,
broad, tan face, burly beard. When we think of Simon Peter, we
recall at least three stories. We think of the story when he
promised, “I won’t deny you. I won’t deny you. I won’t deny
you.” And then he
denied Jesus at the sound of the rooster, when the cock crowed in
the morning. Or we
think of the story of the Mount of Transfiguration. When on the
mountain with the other disciples, Jesus was transfigured before
them. Like many of us, Peter had foot and mouth disease, and he
stuck his foot in his mouth at the wrong time. Peter made a stupid
remark like, “Well, shall be built three tabernacles for you?”
Or we think of the third story of Simon Peter when he saw
Jesus walking on the water, came out to Jesus, and sank into the
waves because of his doubt.
Who else is there?
There are James and John. Both are called the sons of thunder
because of their hot, thunderous tempers. People with hot tempers
become disciples. James and John were both fishermen and were two of
Jesus’ first disciples. Ultimately, James became a leader of the
church in Jerusalem. James was a leader of that church in Jerusalem
where there was an explosion of growth of disciples. Tradition tells
us that James was killed as a martyr in Jerusalem.
James and John.
James and John were brothers, and John was the philosophical type.
John, the beloved disciple. John, who wrote the book of John.
John, the religious philosopher, the deep religious thinker who gave
us the book of John. John, the disciple filled with love, who took
responsibility for Mary, the mother of Jesus, when they were at the
foot of the cross.
So we have Peter,
James and John. Those are the big three disciples. Peter, James and
John were on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John
were together with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. They were the
Who else? How about
Matthew? Matthew, the tax collector. When we think of tax collectors
living at the time of Jesus, we think of shysters, crooks,
politically acceptable thieves who will steal from your pocketbook
with the permission of the government. You don’t want to borrow
money from people like Matthew because he will take advantage of
you. You don’t want to buy a used car from people like Matthew
because he will screw you. Yes, we know the Matthews of life and
perhaps at times, we are like Matthew. The Matthews of life become
Which of the other
disciples can you name? Thomas. Thomas, the doubter. Everybody
thinks of Thomas and remembers Thomas’ name. We all have doubts.
Living in a scientific age, we have innumerable doubts and questions
and Thomas often symbolizes all those questions/doubts we have in
our hearts. The Thomas’ of life become disciples.
Who else? Yes,
Judas. Not many of us have named our children, Judas. In the thirty
plus years that I have taught confirmation, I have never met a
student by the name of Judas. In my sixty plus years of life, I have
never known a person named Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas
betrayed Jesus with a kiss and as a consequence, today, we still
leave the name of Judas out of our vocabulary of chosen names for
Anybody else? Any
other disciples that you know? How about…Did anybody think of the
name, Andrew? Andrew. Andrew is always called Simon Peter’s
Andrew. You see
Andrew every day. Andrew is the person who is riding down town
Seattle on the bus with you. Or, Andrew is the bus driver. Maybe
Andrew is riding in your company van to work or maybe Andrew is the
van driver. Or Andrew is the cab driver. Or Andrew is sitting there
at the stoplight at 5:00 when you are coming home from work; he is
in the car next to you, listening to music. Andrew works over at
Albertson’s grocery on the cash register or Andrew manages the
produce department and is stocking fruit. Or, Andrew is the person
who cuts your hair. Andrew is the man over at Les Schwab who changes
your tires or he is the man over at Minutelube who greases your car.
Andrew is the teller at the bank.
Andrew is not the
two talent person who is at the bottom of the heap and Andrew is not
the ten talent person who is at the top of the heap. Andrew is not
even the seven, eight or nine talent person. Andrew is what I call
“the man in the middle.” Andrew is the five talent man. He is
not up in the front of thousands making presentations, but he is in
the choir, over there in the middle of the chorus of life.
absolutely essential to make the world work. Andrew is absolutely
essential to make the church work. If you don’t have the Andrews
of life, the world does not work very well. If the church
does not have the Andrews of life, the church does not work
very well. In fact, much of the problem within the church is because
of the lack of Andrews.
Andrew. What do you
know about Andrew? Today, let us imagine someone like Andrew.
The first thing
that can be said is that Andrew was Simon Peter’s kid brother. So
I think of Andrew growing up in his brother’s shadow. Andrew was
second fiddle, second chair, second best. Anytime the two brothers
would play games, who would chose the game to be played? Simon
Peter. When a joke is being told, who is telling it? Simon Peter.
When someone asked the two of them a question about fishing, who was
the one who volunteered the answer immediately? Simon Peter. When
you think about it, Andrew is always in the shadow of his older
brother. Second chair, second fiddle, second choice. When you start
to think about it, Andrew was left out. Let me explain. You have two
brothers, James and John, sons of thunder and then there were the
other two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew. The big three disciples
were Peter, James and John, and Andrew was not included in the list.
Where was Andrew on the Mount of Transfiguration? Where was Andrew
at the Garden of Gethsemane? Andrew wasn’t there. When you think
about it, Andrew was kind of left out. Why? Because Andrew was the
man in the middle, the five talent man.
So today’s sermon
is another Biblically based sermon and I would like to tell you
three stories from the life of Andrew. All three stories about
Andrew are on the same theme.
Andrew was a
disciple of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was out there in the
wilderness near the Jordan River, some fifty miles from the capital
of Jerusalem. He was like a religious hermit; he was a super strict
Jew. No dancing. No smoking. No women. No nothing. All he was doing
out there in the wilderness was praying to God. John the Baptist was
a super strict Jew. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist.
Jesus had come out
into the wilderness and had been baptized by John the Baptist. John
the Baptist pointed to Jesus, and said, “Andrew. There is the one.
Right there. The one who is walking there. I just baptized him. He
is the one. He is the lamb of God and he will change the whole
world.” John the Baptist said this in such a way that Andrew was
given permission not to follow John the Baptist but to go and follow
Jesus and Jesus asked him a question: “What are you looking
for?” Now, this is not just a casual question. In John’s gospel,
everything has a double meaning, and the question had this meaning.
“Andrew, what are you really looking for in life? Andrew, what do
you really want out of life? Andrew, what is the core of what you
need to make you a happy, contented person? What are you looking
Andrew responded to
that question with another question. “Where are you staying?”
That question does not mean, “Are you staying at the Motel Six?
Are you staying at the Holiday Inn? The Ramada?” You need to look
at the double meaning. You need to look at the Greek word which is
“menei.” The question means this: “Where are you living,
Jesus? What lives inside of you? What is it that gives you such life
inside of you?”
“Come and see.” And the word, “see,” is meaningful. The
Greek word is not “blepo” which means come and physically see.
Bu the Greek word is “orapo” which is not physical sight but
spiritual insight. Do you see can mean sight. Do you see can
mean insight. Jesus was saying, “Come and see what you are
really looking for.”
Andrew spent the
whole day with Jesus and it got to be about four o’clock in the
afternoon. The story suggests that Jesus, his friends, and Andrew
spent the whole night together. Andrew had twenty-four hours with
Jesus. What did they talk about? We don’t know what was said, but
something happened in that twenty-four hours that Andrew, being in
the presence of God, being in the presence of the Holy Spirit, being
in the presence of Jesus, something happened inside of Andrew. He
was transformed. Andrew became a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The first thing the
next morning, what did Andrew do? Andrew went and found his big
brother, the big brother to whom he had played second string, second
fiddle, second chair. Andrew must not have resented his big brother
too much because the first thing he did in the morning was to go and
find Peter. The Bible says, and I quote, “Andrew brought Simon to
Jesus.” What a wonderful line. Listen again. “Andrew brought
Simon to Jesus.”
Andrew did not try
to convert his brother. Andrew did not try to change his brother or
convince his brother. Andrew knew that if he brought his brother
into the presence of Jesus, that his brother could be transformed
just the way that he, Andrew, had been transformed by Christ. That
is what happened. Andrew brought his brother to Jesus and Simon gave
his life to Christ.
So in this first
story about Andrew, we find that Andrew, this five talent man, this
man in the middle, had this gift, this knack of introducing people
to Jesus Christ. He introduced his brother to Jesus Christ.
So now let us move
onto the second story.
It is the story of
two Greek people, of Greek nationality. I am not sure if you realize
but Jerusalem was on a major highway. Just as you can take I-5 all
the way from Seattle to Los Angeles, and Seattle is on a major
freeway; so also Jerusalem was on the major road from Rome to Egypt.
People from all over the world were going to and through Jerusalem
on the way to Rome or on the way to Egypt. It so happened that two
Greeks were there and were listening to Jesus preach. They came up
after the sermon and approached Phillip and said, “We would like
to meet Jesus.” What did Phillip do? He took the two Greeks over
to Andrew, and he said, “Would you introduce them to Jesus?”
Andrew introduced those two Greek people to Jesus and they became
disciples of Christ.
So we find the
second story is on the same theme: that is, Andrew was that person
who introduced people to Jesus Christ.
So let’s approach
the third story. Do you remember the little boy who had five loaves
of bread and two fish? We have to recreate this story in our
imagination. Would you all please go with me up to the Masonic Home
there on Marine View Drive, with the big lawn looking out over Puget
Sound? There are five thousand people sitting on that lawn, on the
green grass, looking out over the waters of Puget Sound. This
setting is similar to the scene of Jesus feeding the five thousand,
on a hill, over looking the Sea of Galilee. Jesus has finished his
sermon, and there were no 7-11s, Albertson’s or Safeway around in
that part of the wilderness. But the people needed to be fed.
Remember that there was a little boy with five loaves of bread and
two fish. Jesus took the bread, broke it, distributed it to the five
thousand and there were twelve baskets left over. Now, what part of
the story did I leave out? What part of that story is almost always
left out? I left out the part of the story of how the little boy got
to Jesus. The little boy was probably in the back of the crowd. Who
brought the little boy from the back of the crowd to the front of
the crowd? Who was it out there in the crowd, looking into the
basket of this little boy? It was Andrew. It is always Andrew.
Andrew had been talking with this little boy and he said, “I would
like you to meet Jesus.” Andrew brought the little boy into the
presence of Jesus and it was Jesus who transformed his little life
and his five loaves of bread.
So the sermon for
today is not about Simon Peter who preached a great sermon and three
thousand were converted in one day. The sermon for today is not
about James, the great leader of the ancient Jewish church in
Jerusalem, one of the greatest leaders that the church has ever
seen. The sermon for today is not about John, the philosophical
mind, who wrote the Gospel of John which ultimately has touched
billions of people.
sermon is about the bus driver, the van driver, the butcher, the
barber, the clerk at the grocery story, the clerk at the bank. The
story for today is about the man in the middle who introduces people
to Jesus Christ.
I would like to
suggest to you that throughout the history of the church that there
have been 10,000 Andrews for every one Peter, James and John. There
are always 10,000 people in the middle for every Peter, James and
John. These people in the middle are absolutely essential to make
our nation work, and these people in the middle are absolutely
essential to make our church work.
I have been
thinking: Who could be my illustration today? Who can be my Andrew?
I am thinking of a
seventh grade confirmation student and her name is Carley Marchitto.
Carley brought these three new friends to confirmation. These three
friends did not belong to the church nor did their parents. But
these three girls did their homework, read their Bibles every night,
marked in their Bibles every night, and learned their study material
for quizzes and tests. These three girls became part of
confirmation, part of our Christian community, part of people who
learned about Christ through the community and through their reading
of the Bible. Now, when it is all said and done, I am not sure if
Carley will ever preach a sermon and three thousand will be
converted. I am not sure if she will be elected president of her
large congregation in Seattle. I am not sure if she will ever write
a theological discourse that will be read by millions and billions
of people. But as she grows up, she already knows what it means to
be an Andrew. She has introduced her friends to the presence of
Christ. She brought her friends to the place where she felt Jesus
Christ was present, just like Andrew brought his friends to the
place where Jesus Christ was present. Here in the confirmation
class. Here in the retreats. Here in the Scriptures. When her
friends came into the confirmation class, into the retreats, into
the Scriptures, she knew her friends would meet Jesus. If there was
any converting going on, Jesus would do it.
Why did she bring
her three fields to confirmation? Because of guilt? Get real.
Because there was some kind of pressure? Get real.
Why? Because she herself knows the Lord and she wants her
friends to know the Lord as well. That is just the way she is. She
knows that is the way Christians are. When you know the Lord, you
want to bring people so they can know the Lord also.
The good news and
the bad news. Do you want the good news first and then the bad news
or the bad news first and then the good news? Good news. Bad news.
The good news. The
other day I received an email from Ruth. In this email, she told me
that she practiced what she called “quiet evangelism.”
Ruth took the postcard from Grace Lutheran Church about our
Sunday before Christmas, about the Voices of Christmas and our
Christmas play. Ruth left the church invitational postcard on the
counter in her office, right next to the office copying machine.
Sure enough, someone copied the invitation and came to church all
alone on December 23rd. Ruth was surprised to see her
friend from work and went over to sit with her. The friend enjoyed
herself. …. The
friend also expressed an interest in the Biblical course that Ruth
was taking in the four gospels. In fact, this woman wanted a copy of
the four gospels and Ruth gave it to her for a Christmas present.
This friend’s email, which I have permission to quote, say that
“Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will become my close friends.”
Here is a woman who does not belong to our church, who takes a
course about the four gospels on the Internet, who receives a Bible
as a Christmas gift, and says that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will
become her best friends. Cool, eh?
I doubt if Ruth
will ever preach a sermon and three thousand will become converted
in one day. I doubt if she will ever be elected president of her
congregation and be known as the best leader that church ever had. I
doubt if Ruth will ever write a religious book and her book will
nourish millions and billions of people. But I am sure of this: Ruth
knows what it means to be an Andrew, to introduce someone to Jesus
Christ. Ruth felt as if she was bringing her friend to the place
where Jesus Christ was present; in our worship services, in our
Bible classes, in our loving community, and into the Bible so that
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John could become her best friends.
Now, why did Ruth
extend an invitation to her friend. Because of guilt? Get real.
Because of pressure? Come on. No, she invited her friend because she
wanted her friend to experience the presence of Christ in the Word
and in the community.
You see, as with
Andrew in the Bible, we are to bring people into the Presence of
Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lives in his Word, and this woman will
become close to Christ.
What the Church of
Christ needs today is 10,000,000 Andrews to bring people into the
presence of Christ. What Grace Lutheran Church of Des Moines
Washington needs is a thousand Andrews.
The bad news? Well,
there is bad news, at least from my point of view.
The bad news? Our
average worship attendance dropped more than 10% last year. Why is
our worship attendance down so much for this past year?
The bad news?
Pastor O’Neal informs me that our first time visitors is
down nearly 50% from the previous year. If our first time visitors
are down, so is the attendance at our new member class.
The bad news? The
new members for our new member class used to number 25-40 people and
now it is 12-15 people.
The bad news. At my
adult membership class the other night, a woman showed up. We asked
how she found Grace and she just had. She was surprised to see so
many of her neighbors belonged to this church and she saw them on
Sunday morning. She never knew that they were members of Grace
Andrews. The world
needs Andrews. This and every congregation needs Andrews. The Church
and the world out there cannot survive without Andrews. For every
one Peter, James and John, there are 10,000 Andrews. You need to be
an Andrew who brings people to meet Jesus Christ. Amen.