He was Simon’s younger brother. He had introduced his tough, zealous brother to Jesus, and Jesus had renamed Simon Peter, Rock.
But Andrew, Peter’s younger brother, wasn’t a big name among the disciples. He didn’t go up the mountain with Peter, James and John.
He was Christ’s humble friend.
His heart was pure enough listen to children, and one day a child showed him something that turned out to be the hinge of a miracle.
The crowd that gathered to see Jesus that day was unbelievable. Five thousand households. We have to imagine the exponential number that really was.
The people loved to hear Christ speak, but as the day drew on, hunger pangs began vying for their attention. Jesus understood hunger.
He’d once been tempted to turn stones into bread.
Christ posed a question to Philip. “How are we going to feed them all?”
“Lord, 200 denari wouldn’t buy enough bread to feed this crowd!” Philip protested.
Then Andrew, who’d been mingling with the little ones, offered an additional fact.
“There is a boy here with five barley loaves and two fishes,” he said.
“But what’s that among so many?”
It seemed crazy even to mention it.
Yet this is the day Jesus would feed five thousand plus with five loaves and two fishes, a miracle reminding us of one God had worked centuries earlier through the prophet Elisha.
“How can I give this to a hundred people?” Elisha’s servant protested when the prophet told him to feed a much smaller crowd with 20 barley loaves.
It is a miracle that points as well to the Eucharist, bread for the life of the world, the biggest crowd ever. “I am the Bread of Life,” Christ announced the very next day.
But on this day, Jesus received the little boy’s lunch.
Christ blessed the loaves and fishes, broke them and gave them to the disciples to distribute.
Everybody ate their fill; twelve baskets of leftovers proved it.
Andrew was an early friend of Jesus. Perhaps his question – what is that among so many? – concealed a hopeful understanding of what can happen when Christ is among us and supplies are dwindling.
Andrew was also present the Passover night when Christ broke bread and passed the cup saying, “This is my Body. This is my Blood.”
True, Andrew ran away just like his tough-talking brother when the chips were down and they all realized just how brutally broken the the Lord’s body was about to become.
But he was also there, shivering with Peter and the rest, when the risen Christ appeared in the Upper Room and entrusted his followers with a new mission, one for the whole world.
After that, tradition tells us, Andrew’s preaching as an eyewitness to the risen Christ converted thousands of little ones as he traveled around the Mediterranean and told everyone he could about the things that he had seen. The love that went through death for them.
The authorities didn’t like it. Andrew was martyred on an X-shaped Roman cross.
But Andrew’s life still speaks. There’s a role in God’s Great Story for younger brothers and little children, for widows and orphans and outcast women. There’s a role for short, greedy tax collectors and big, brawny fishermen.
There’s a role for you and me in the mission of love that extends “to the uttermost ends of the earth.”
You can bet your lunch on it.
I owe much of my love for Andrew’s role in the biblical narrative to my preacher father, who named my middle brother Andrew and, although Simon Peter was my dad’s favorite disciple, loved to talk about Andrew’s ability to notice small things and small people and to bring them all to Christ.
You might also enjoy The Old Man Whose Belief Became a Blessing for us All.
Photo by Jude Infantini on Unsplash. The Temptation in the Wilderness by Briton Rivière, The Miracle of the Multiplication of Bread (Mural in the Church of Our Lady, Ravensburg) by Gebhard Fugel and The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by James Tissot, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.