Andrew: Active Witness

| John 1:35-42; 12:20-26

Week of November 26, 2017

The Point:  Christ-centered living chooses invitation, not indifference.

Bringing Them to Jesus:  John 1:35-42.

[35] The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, [36] and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” [37] The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. [38] Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” [39] He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. [40] One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. [41] He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). [42] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).   [ESV]

[1:35-42]  “The Gospel of John records three witnesses on the third and fourth days of the first week of Jesus’ ministry. One was given by John the Baptist, another was given by Andrew, and the third was given by Jesus Himself.

John the Baptist’s Witness [35-36].  John is a great example to us in evangelism. Being a prophet, John gave his testimony in public, calling all people to repent and believe that the Savior had come. John is also outstanding in that he was not interested in acquiring followers for himself; his chief desire was to direct others to follow Jesus Christ. Moreover, John is a strong example of using biblical proclamation in our witness. When Jesus walked by John and two of his disciples, John proclaimed, Behold, the Lamb of God [36]. Many Christians wonder what to say to others about Jesus. John shows that we should always be ready to state what the Bible says about Him. We should always emphasize the actual teaching of the Bible in our witness, since it is the Word of God that brings people to faith. Peter wrote to believers, You have been born again … through the living and abiding word of God [1 Peter 1:23], so we need to witness to Jesus by presenting the Bible’s teaching about Him.

Andrew’s Witness [40-42].  The second witness we see is Andrew’s. Andrew is usually listed as one of the first four disciples, but he is much less known than the other three: Peter, James, and John. He is best known for bringing people to Jesus. In the three times he is singled out in John’s Gospel, it is always for this reason. In our passage, he brings his brother Simon to Jesus. Later, when Jesus wanted to feed the five thousand, it was Andrew who brought the boy with five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus [John 6:8-9]; and shortly before Jesus’ death, Andrew and Philip together brought a group of Greeks who wanted to meet the Lord [John 12:20-22]. Andrew’s example is instructive for the topic of evangelism. First, we note his willingness to take a backseat if only he could bring others to the Lord. Those who are greatly concerned about their own place and the importance of their own ministry are seldom effective evangelists. Like Andrew, we must most of all desire simply for people to come in faith to Jesus Christ. Next, we note Andrew’s zeal to share what he had found in Christ. John 1:41 says, He first found his own brother Simon. This indicates that the first thing Andrew did was to witness to his brother. Many of us find it hard to speak about our relationship with Jesus to those who are closest to us. It is a sad reality that many Christians do not witness to their family and closest friends. But Andrew was too zealous for that to be true of him. It was the very first thing he did after he left Jesus’ presence. Our excitement about the Lord should inspire a zeal to share what we have found. Andrew’s witness to Peter took the form of a personal testimony: We have found the Messiah [41]. Our witness should always include a biblical explanation about Jesus, but it is also important for us to speak of our own experience with the Lord. What kinds of things should we tell others about Jesus? We should tell them what caused us to believe. We should tell them what we have experienced in our hearts: the joy of knowing that our sins are forgiven, the peace that comes through the Holy Spirit, the love we feel as children of God, and the excitement of seeing the truth with new eyes. Tell people what it has meant to you to turn away from sins that had dragged you down for so long, and to have a power within you that enables you to walk in faith with God. Our personal testimony does not replace a biblical proclamation about Jesus, but it is an important complement. And it requires that we have a close relationship with the Lord. If we are not excited about God’s Word, if we are not warmed by close fellowship with God, and if we are not humbled by Christ’s suffering on the cross for our sins, we will not be very effective witnesses. Between these two brothers – Peter and Andrew – we see the two main kinds of witnesses that God provides in the church: the public preaching of the Word and the personal testimony of individual Christians. Every church needs a Peter who will publicly preach the gospel, and God greatly uses faithful preaching. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, when three thousand people believed on Christ, is one such example. But as important as preaching is, something at least as important is that a church have a whole legion of Andrews: those who bring people one by one to Jesus through their heartfelt testimony and biblical witness to Christ.

The Witness of Jesus [38-39].  The third witness comes in the form of a personal invitation from Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the two disciples coming to Him, and asked, What are you seeking? They answered, “Rabbi, … where are you staying? Then Jesus said, Come and you will see [38-39]. This is a great invitation to you: Come and you will see. With those words Jesus invites everyone to discover personally the Savior that He is. Jesus’ invitation is couched in the form of a promise: “If you come, then you will see.” This invitation and promise is still valid today. If you will sincerely seek to learn about Jesus, He will show you who He is. If you will come to inquire about Jesus, honestly seeking in the Bible who He is and what He has to offer, you will be faced with the power of God’s truth in the good news of salvation. If you seek Jesus, He will reveal Himself to you by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as He illuminates the Scriptures to your mind and heart. If you find that hard to believe, take Jesus at His word: Come and you will see. And when you have found Him, you will also find a new life with God, a life of light and love and truth.”  [Phillips, pp. 103-111].

The Hour of Glory:  John 12:20-26.

[20] Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. [21] So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” [22] Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. [23] And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. [25] Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [26] If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.   [ESV]

[12:20-26]  “The region where Philip and Andrew grew up, Bethsaida in Galilee, was close to a large Greek population. So these Greeks could have been acquaintances. Still, it seems that Philip did not know how to respond to their request (we wish to see Jesus), so he consulted with Andrew. This is the third time we find Andrew bringing someone to Jesus. The first was his brother Simon Peter, to whom he said, We have found the Messiah [John 1:41]. The second was the boy whose few fish and loaves Jesus used to feed the hungry crowd [6:8-9]. Andrew’s exemplary reputation for bringing others to Jesus is confirmed here, for he took Philip to Jesus with news of the Greeks. Jesus’ reply to this news was as remarkable as it was unexpected. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified [23]. He looked upon the arrival of these Greeks as a sign that the climax of His mission had at last arrived. First, Jesus declared, The hour has come. This is remarkable, given earlier statements in John’s Gospel. During a wedding feast at the beginning of His ministry, His mother, Mary, wanted Jesus to reveal Himself in glory. He replied, My hour has not yet come [2:4]. Later, at the Feast of Tabernacles, His brothers urged Him to glorify Himself by performing miracles. Jesus answered, My time has not yet come [7:5]. Later, the authorities failed to arrest Him because his hour had not yet come [8:20]. So why has the arrival of these Greeks caused Jesus to say, The hour has come? The answer recalls us to the building conflict between Jesus and the Jewish authorities. The crisis is coming quickly, orchestrated by Jesus Himself. Now these representatives of the Gentile world appear, asking for Him, and Jesus sees that the decisive turning point of His mission in the world is at hand. In the previous passage, the Pharisees lamented, Look, the world has gone after him [12:19]. With typical irony, John reports the arrival of these Greeks to show that this was Jesus’ very intention: to gain His converts from the whole world. The coming of the Greeks signified that Jesus’ victory was at hand. Jesus adds to this a most striking description of what this hour entails. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified [12:23]. Jesus often used the name, Son of Man, in association with His predictions about the cross. So Jesus is saying that His death on the cross was to be the supreme manifestation of His glory. Glorifying always involves “revealing” or “displaying.” All questions about the purpose, character, and glory of God were about to receive their answer on the cross. What the world sees as the deepest humiliation, Jesus understood as His highest glory. Jesus amplified His meaning about His hour of glory with an example from nature [12:24]. Just as a seed must be buried in the ground and decay to give birth to a plant, the Son of Man is glorified and bears His fruit through His suffering in death. Just taking this saying as a general principle, it makes an important point about life. The way to really live is not to indulge yourself but it discipline yourself. The way to achieve things of value is to engage in self-denial. And unless there are things you will die for, then your life is really not worth living. Of course, the greatest example and fulfillment of this principle was the death that Jesus was about to suffer. It was only by dying that Jesus became our Savior. Unless Jesus had borne our sins on the cross, there would be no Christianity and no church. There is no Christianity if the cross is absent from our message and faith. We are not saved by following Jesus’ example. Certainly, Christians are to follow Jesus’ example, but one cannot become a Christian this way. Jesus taught that salvation depends on what only He could accomplish, namely, His atoning death for our sin. For this reason, Jesus is glorified as our Savior when we confess our great need for His cross. Therefore, to deny or reject the cross is to deny Christ. To refuse to confess your sin and your need for Jesus’ atoning blood is to refuse the only way of salvation that He came to offer. It is true, however, that those who are saved by faith in the cross must take up the cross for themselves. The principle of Jesus as Savior is also the principle for the salvation He gives. To make this point, Jesus continued in 12:25-26. What was true for Jesus is true for His followers. Jesus says that we are not to love our lives, but to hate our life in this world. We need to understand this rightly. Jesus is not saying that we should hate life itself, nor that we should not love the good things that God has placed in this world. Jesus means that we are to reject the worldly way of thinking and feeling. We are to reject the life of ego and turn to the eternal life that enters us through the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sends. How, then, should we understand what it means to turn from a worldly life and seek a heavenly one? First, Christians must die to self. We experience a death to our own will as we surrender our lives to Jesus. Christians are called to surrender our plans to Jesus. Especially, being a Christian means relinquishing worldly values and goals, most of which center on money, success, fame, and pleasure. Second, the follower of Christ must die to sin [see Rom. 6:11-13]. We die to sin by starving it and by presenting our lives to God. We offer our feet to take us into wholesome and holy places, not places of sin. We offer our hands not to iniquity but to good works. We offer our lips no longer to gossip, slander, and coarse speech but to praising God, uplifting others, and spreading the gospel. We offer our eyes not to gaze in lust or envy but to glorify God. We offer our minds no longer to the ways of the world, but to being filled with the light of God’s Word. Perhaps above all, we need to devote ourselves to a life of regular communion with God through the study of His Word, which alone can make us wise for salvation [2 Tim. 3:15] and transform us through the renewing of our minds [Rom. 12:2]. Jesus has presented us with the principle of His glory, namely, that of His cross. He said that the hour of His glory came as His cross approached. Jesus concluded by laying out the path of glory for those who come to Him in faith [12:26]. First, Jesus said, If anyone serves me, he must follow me. This was His message for the Greeks who sought Him. We follow Jesus in a life of cross-bearing self-denial. We follow Him in a life of service to God and man. We follow Jesus by holding fast the doctrines of His Word and pursuing a holy life through the power of His Holy Spirit. Second, Jesus stated: And where I am, there will my servant be also. This is not a command but a promise. This is our great reward and our pleasure in this life: to have Christ’s encouragement, to know Christ’s approval, and to live by Christ’s power. Christ is with every Christian; even when we stray. But only those who are following Jesus are able to experience His presence. Last, and greatest, Jesus promises, If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Much of our problem is that we do not aim high enough in life. We settle for earthly happiness, when Christ calls us to holiness. We settle for earthly success when we were made and redeemed for heavenly glory.”  [Phillips, pp. 91-100].

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Who are the three witnesses to Jesus in 1:35-42? What do we learn about evangelism from the different types of witness by these individuals?
  2. Why did the arrival of the Greeks cause Jesus to say: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified? What did Jesus mean by the hour? Why did Jesus see this event as the turning point of His mission? How was Jesus to be glorified?
  3. Jesus answered Andrew and Philip with three statements concerning life and service [24-26]. What is Jesus telling His disciples? How should we understand what it means to turn from a worldly life and seek a heavenly one? What does it mean to hate your life in this world? What does Jesus mean by connecting serving Him with following Him? What important promise does Jesus give to those who serve and follow Him? How do you incorporate Jesus’ teaching here into your evangelism?

References:

John, Andreas Kostenberger, ECNT, Baker.

John, vol. 1, Richard Phillips. REC, P & R Publishing.

John, vol. 2, Richard Phillips. REC, P & R Publishing.

The Gospel of John, Herman Ridderbos, Eerdmans.