In May of 2002, the Lily Endowment conducted a survey of some 300,000 church attenders in over 2,200 churches spanning across eight denominations. One of the statistics they found that I find fascinating is 75% of those 300,000 church attenders stated they came to the church for the very first time because someone had invited them. The very first time they entered a church facility or became part of a church service was as a result of an invitation.
Yet the survey also stated 54% of them (of that same group) had not invited a single person to church in that previous year. It lets me know people who are in church because someone invited them to church have not in turn seen the responsibility to invite someone else. It seems as though across the board Christians just don't invite people to come to Jesus. That is not the normal course it seems, of the reaction of faith in people's lives.
In our text today we're going to be introduced to a disciple, to a man named Andrew. Andrew is a Greek name and it is a name that means basically manly. Andrew was a fisherman. He was an outdoorsman. He's not a scholar. He's not a 'theologian' at this point, by any means. He's a common laborer from the regions of Galilee. Here is a common, ordinary, outdoor, man's man who is going to show us how to invite people to come to know Jesus.
Andrew is a very quiet guy. We do find his name mentioned in Scripture, but he's not a major character of the disciples like James and John and Peter certainly were. Yet, what's interesting about Andrew is when his name is mentioned in the gospels, he's usually bringing somebody to Jesus. There is the occasion where they're feeding the 5,000, and it is Andrew who brings that young boy who has that sack lunch (if you will) of the loaves and the fish, and brings him to Jesus.
Later on when some Greeks come to Phillip…Phillip of course very Greek name, we'll see this a little about Phillip next week perhaps. But Phillip brings these people who want to meet Jesus to Andrew, and they together bring them to meet Christ, to introduce them to the Savior. It seems Andrew has a passion about bringing people to Christ, and we certainly see that in our text today.
So I want to invite you to John, chapter 1. I want us to pick up in the verse 35. This is John the Baptist who is talking. When we look at the scene today there are two disciples who are with John the Baptist. One, we discover is Andrew, the other most likely is the Apostle John himself. In John 1, in verse 35, it says, "Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, 'Behold the Lamb of God!' The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."
Now Andrew and, likely as I said, the Apostle John here heard the Baptist and they heard his declaration that there is the Messiah. As Jesus is walking by he said, "Behold the Lamb of God." In our message last week we talked about that very phrase…the Lamb of God. That certainly has meaning to Jews like Andrew and to John. We believe they were looking for the Messiah. They were aware of the prophesies of Daniel. They knew the calendar. They knew the time had come, according to Daniel's prophesy, for the Messiah to appear on earth.
I'm sure the entire community, the entire nation in one form or another is very curious about the Messiah, and we also know historically because of that many false messiahs had already presented themselves, and had been dismissed and set aside. So they're looking for this. Here now they've become disciples of John the Baptist. His preaching, his declaration to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand has drawn John and Andrew to that teaching and to following John, and under his mentorship and his leadership to discover the truths of how God would have them live in those days.
Now on this day, John says, "There goes the Messiah. Behold the Lamb of God." It's just so beautiful how it says in verse 37 that the disciples heard John the Baptist speak and they followed Jesus. That's exactly how John wanted it. John wasn't trying to build a large collection of disciples. He wasn't trying to build a big group around him. In fact, in chapter 3 we learn he would say, "I must decrease in order for Jesus to increase."
So what Andrew and John were doing was no doubt the result of John's urging (John the Baptist's urging). He wanted them to follow Christ. That's exactly what they did. They knew what the Lamb of God implied. After all they're in the Bible belt of Judaism. They know exactly what those phrases mean. They know what the Scriptures are saying. Many of the people John the Baptist was preaching to very much knew what Messiah meant, the Anointed One, the coming King, the Savior of the world…many of them knew the promises of Scripture.
In many ways, Andrew and John, and the testimony of John to them and their conversion, so parallels the place we live today. For we live in the Bible belt of America. We live in a place where going to church is an accepted, normal thing, where most people have a church name they will at least attach themselves to, a particular denomination or faith they will at least claim some allegiance to. We live in a part of the world that is saturated with church-going people, and so it was with John the Baptist.
If we adopted, or if John the Baptist adopted the attitude that many Christians in the Bible belt have today, John the Baptist might not have preached at all. He might have said, "They already know the truth. They've already know the truth. They've already made up their mind. There's nothing I can do." I think sometimes one of the big hindrances in the South in witnessing and evangelizing is the assumption your neighbors already know about Jesus, your coworkers already know, your young people already know because they go to a church somewhere or at least say they do.
I stand up in this very pulpit each week under the assumption that the vast majority of the people I speak to in this room do not have a relationship with Christ. That's a statistical reality because many people have the religious exercise. Many of you are here today; many people fill churches this morning, out of a sense of religious duty. It's the right thing to do. You're in this part of the country and you get up and you go to church. Some go to early mass, some go to different times of services, but they fulfill their duty.
Fulfilling the duty is not what Andrew and the Apostle John were seeking that day. They were seeking a relationship with the very Messiah, the Anointed One of God. They had religion. They had Judaism. They had ceremony. They had holidays. They had sacrifices. They had the Temple. They had all the trappings of religious duty and are still seeking.
There are those here today who are so bored with religion. You've had church. You've been raised in it. You know what's going to happen next. We don't even have to tell you to sit down after the 'amen,' you know that you do that. You know when you're going to stand. You know when the preacher says this phrase, or whatever that phrase might be, it's time to pack up camp, we're getting ready to go home. The duty of it, the ritual of it, is embedded in the lives of so many people who do not have the exciting, vibrant, living relationship with Christ Monday, Tuesday, and throughout the week.
Andrew and John wanted more. They wanted more than what had become the empty ritualism of their day. So John the Baptist, when he preaches, he reaches the hearts of a lot of people…people who were tired of the emptiness of their lifestyle, the emptiness of their religion, who were tired of a so-called allegiance to God that didn't live itself out in a daily walk. They wanted a daily walk. So here comes the Messiah walking by and they're going to follow Him.
In verse 38, it says, "Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, 'What do you seek?' They said to Him, 'Rabbi' (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), 'where are You staying?'" Notice the answer Christ gave. He did not simply wave them into His fold. You notice here are people seeking and He doesn't just give them, "Well, say this prayer, follow this prayer after Me, now you need to get baptized." You notice He asked them a question because Jesus is not interested in just gathering large numbers of people in physical presence around Him. Jesus is interested in the heart.
He wants to know…what is in your heart, Andrew? What's in your heart, John? So He asks this question, "What do you seek?" They're following Him and He wants to know…why are you following? Oh how they give the answer. I tell you what, it's a great answer. They say, "Rabbi…" When they say Rabbi they reveal their heart. In other words, they do not want to add another ceremony. They do not want to add another ritual. They don't want to be part of another club. They want to learn. They want to know Jesus. They want to be taught by the Master. They want to be taught and to learn and to go beyond what John was able to do for them and to experience with Christ Himself a knowledge they can't have otherwise.
Listen, you can come to every church service, hear thousands of sermons preached, never miss a Bible study, and yet never know some truths because there are some truths that come through a relationship with Christ, that come through the embedding of the Holy Spirit in one's life to give you a discernment and a wisdom that only comes that way.
So here's Andrew and John. They've appreciated, no doubt, what John the Baptist has shown them, the life he has shed on the darkness of their religion, but now they want to learn from the Master, so they say, "Where are you staying?" They didn't just have an idle curiosity. They had a heart desire to know the Savior. That was enough for Jesus, so in verse 39, Jesus said to them, "Come and see." "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying. They remained with Him that day. It was about the tenth hour when this took place.
Notice how Jesus directs their conviction. They're convicted here, and He directs their conviction through teaching them. He's not just giving them a simple tract, but He knows that with these two, their background, they've been raised in the Bible belt. I want you to hear me now because you have an Andrew and a John where you work. You have one who sits across the table from you at supper at night. You have one who you will go swimming with this summer. They know religion. They know the duty. They know perhaps the ritual. Yet there's a conviction in their life.
What they need, what so often those who have been raised in religion but never had the relationship need, is the instruction. They need their conviction to be lead and brought through discipleship. What Jesus is doing here, and it will not stop on this day, now that's so important, isn't it? This discipleship process will continue for three-and-a-half years before Jesus ascends back into heaven, and one might argue for the rest of their lives through the Holy Spirit.
Often, we look at conversion as the end of the road for someone, but it is only the beginning of discipleship. It is the reason why there are so many who do not invite others, why there are so many who don't know the deep truths of God, so many who do not walk the walk, yet they talk the talk. It's because they've never been discipled. They've heard the plan of salvation. They've responded affirmatively. They've followed in baptism. They've had their name written on a church role, and that was it. After the euphoria and after the impressions of salvation tend to wane, so do the people.
They wind up being like so many, but Jesus shows us a different plan. He's not interested in just getting an affirmative confirmation. He wants to teach them, so He says, "Come and see." I tell you to every one of you here, because I can't speak to the ones outside the room right now, I want to invite you to come and see. There is so much more to the Christian life than just saying you believe in Jesus and being baptized. There is a life, a lifestyle. There is an answer to the problems that beset your life. There is a strength that undergirds the stormiest days of your life if you will but enter into a discipleship process.
Yes, to study, to formally study the Word of God in groups of believers, to begin personal daily devotions, to develop a prayer life with a God you want to talk to every day. Oh to live the abundant life Jesus Himself said He came to give means you become a disciple of Christ. You become a follower, a student of the things of God and that invitation comes to each and every one of you when Jesus tells your heart, "Come and see." "Come and see."
You know that come and see, I think that very invitation is sadly lacking in the Bible belt, in the area in which we live. Now we can talk about taking the Word of God to all kinds of remote places and indeed we do. That's the command of God that we do that, but one of the places we need to take it is right here because we have a culture now that assumes it knows, and assumes Christianity is a minor part of anyone's life, that assumes the religion of Sunday morning accomplishes the goals and purposes of God, and they're left to their own for everything else.
What if John the Baptist had assumed Andrew and John already knew who the Savior was? Just like too many Christians assume their neighbor across the street who gets up and goes to church already knows who the Savior is. What if John the Baptist had that same Dutch mentality that says, "I'm not going to get involved in their business"? Andrew and John, they're free to do what they want to do. What if John the Baptist had so embraced that sort of Americanized ideology of every man has the freedom to do what he wants to do that he never engaged in their lives?
Can you imagine? Imagine if Andrew and John, because they're both Jews, were not witnessed to by John the Baptist? Well, we don't have Andrew. We don't have John. We don't have James. We don't have Peter. Now you might say, "Well, the sovereignty of God…" We don't live on the sovereignty of God's side of life. We live on the obedience to God side of life. The fact that John the Baptist didn't sit there and say, "Well, if they want to believe they can believe." No, he assumed the personal responsibility to share the faith with all of those he would encounter.
It goes on to tell us then in verse 40, "One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which is translated, the Christ)." You know Andrew's conclusion was that he had found that long awaited hope. The hope of the Jewish nation was no longer just a philosophy, but it was now a reality. It was walking in flesh and blood, and he wanted to share that.
The first thing Andrew did after meeting Jesus was to bring his brother Peter. Why was that? Why would the first thing he would do be to go and tell his brother Simon at the time? Literally Simeon was his name and Simon becomes the Greek pronunciation of it. Why does Andrew do that? Well, Jesus was the Lamb of God everyone had been waiting for including Simon, including Andrew. He was the promised Messiah. He was the One sent by God to change the lives of His people, and Andrew loved his brother too much to have him miss out on that. Of course, he wanted to share it.
I like the analogy one preacher has shared. Let's say your house catches on fire, and you get out, but there are six of your family members still inside that fire. How many of them will you have to get out before you're satisfied? So how many of your friends who are headed straight to hell are you going to witness to until you're satisfied? Well every single one of them…if you understand the gravity and the importance and the reality of eternal life and eternal separation from God.
I think the problem with many church goers is that it is just a religious exercise for them, but you see Andrew felt an urgency to share Jesus. He wouldn't be satisfied until every last member was brought of that burning house. He was not satisfied until his brother Peter heard the same exciting news and met the same Savior that Andrew had discovered. That's the primary reason you and I should bring people to Jesus. It's because we have this sense of urgency that people need to learn about the Savior.
We, in the Bible belt, know how to answer the questions when people come to our door and ask about Jesus. We know those answers and so do our lost friends who are church members. So do our lost friends who are coworkers and who are schoolmates. Don't be deceived by the typical answers. One typical answer that always sets off alarms with me is I ask somebody, "Do you know Jesus as Savior?" "Oh yes, I'm a member of such-and-such church." Well, I didn't ask that question, did I?
It also alarms me because I'm thinking, "Have they tied their salvation to a membership somewhere? Have they relegated that they have their name on a roll so that takes care of everything?" No, there is only one answer to that questions and that is to share your faith. That is to say, "Yes, Jesus saved me when…Yes, I love my Savior." Any religious answer to me is a 'no' answer.
We need to understand we live in a culture much like Jesus encountered and John the Baptist encountered…people who knew religion, people who knew their Scriptures even, but they didn't know Jesus. They didn't see the light. They were still in the darkness and they needed that light shed on their life.
So Andrew goes to his brother. In verse 42, it says, "And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, 'You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas' (which is translated, A Stone)." Simon gets his namesake from Simeon. Simeon was a reckless individual. He's the one who avenges his sister. His legacy is one of a reckless attitude, and we might think of Peter as certainly adopting that legacy when we look at the examples of his life, and how strange it is that when he meets with Christ, Christ changes his name to the Aramaic form of Peter. He says Cephas, which means A Stone, which is exactly what Peter means in the Greek.
Here is a man who is, again, a ruffian, a common laborer, a fisherman in the Sea of Galilee, one who is outside the theological, intellectual realm of Jerusalem, and yet Jesus changes his name to A Rock. Jesus sees in Peter, in Simon Peter, what he does not even see in himself at this point. You know changing names in the Bible is very important. It's not done haphazardly. Christ sees in this man something which will certainly come to fruition in the later years of his life when he does become a rock and a strong example and witness for Christ.
We might have the Simeons around us, those who are reckless, those who are ruff, those who we might think, "Boy, the church would be upset if I brought them." Yet, what does Christ see in their lives? See Christ might see a rock. He might see somebody who He can mold the examples and even the past mistakes of their life into such a shining witness and example of what He intends to do in their life.
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