1/17/99, E2A

“And Andrew Brought Simon to Jesus”
John 1: 35-46

t has been said that the bravest person to ever live was the first person who ate a raw oyster. Raw oysters are ugly, they do not look like something good to eat, and unless you have been encouraged by a friend, who has already eaten raw oysters, to try out this experience you would never know that raw oysters can be delicious. This is how most of us decide on a car. We are bombarded by advertisements, but most say they were primarily influenced by the comments of a satisfied customer. Is it that big of a surprise that most church members say that they were initially invited to visit by somebody they knew?

In our text we see Jesus at about age thirty beginning his public ministry. After his baptism by his cousin John in the Jordan we find him adding the first four Apostles to his membership roll. We could say that these four came to Jesus at the invitation of a: Friend, Relative, Associate or Neighbor. Or, as our simple friendship evangelism process calls them, FRANs.

Jesus’ first Apostle, Andrew, had been John the Baptist's follower, and Cousin John sent his ASSOCIATE to Jesus. Andrew heard Jesus preach and immediately decided that he had found the Lord and, along with an unnamed former disciple of John, followed Jesus. It is interesting to note that Jesus did not call Andrew; but rather, Andrew found Jesus at the encouragement of John the Baptist who saw himself as a forerunner of Christ and was in the process of turning his ministry over to Jesus the Messiah.

As did John, we each have associates at work, at school, and from clubs, that we can encourage to visit our church. We invite them to come hear, and then we trust the convicting power of the Spirit to impress upon them the good news. It is always up to the Spirit working in human hearts that hearers decide to follow Jesus. We can lead a person to the Living Water, but they have to drink of the water by their own volition. Not everyone we invite will choose to follow Christ. Yet, our part in the process is to continue to find persons within the circle of our relationships and to invite them to test the waters.

Perhaps the other former disciple of John the Baptist did not last and is therefore unnamed. In today’s terminology, he could have been removed from the church roll. However, most bible students assume that the unnamed Apostle was John the Beloved, the one who became the best friend of Jesus; the one who, along with the women disciples, later remained at the Cross while Jesus was dying, and the one who wrote the Gospel of John, from which our text is taken. We never know what might happen in the life of individuals we have the privilege of casually inviting to come give it a try.

After finding Jesus for himself, Andrew immediately found his brother Simon. Thus, a RELATIVE was brought to Jesus. Sometimes we call friendship evangelism programs, “Operation Andrew,” in recognition of the Apostle who brought his brother. And what a great leader of our faith Simon became. Jesus immediately changed Simon’s name to Cephas, which is translated Peter, which denotes the Rock of Faith upon which the Church is built. What if Andrew had not invited his brother? How different would the world be?

Still today, many of us were brought by our families. I was brought to the Altar of the Church as an infant and baptized. However, I resisted grace; but, when at the age of twenty-one I responded to God’s call to preach the first person I phoned was my Dad. Our former neighbor pastor at Ebenezer, Martin Luther King, Sr., loved to tell what a great day it was when his son, Marty, shared with him his call to preach. How different our world would be if Martin, Jr. had not responded to his family’s nurture.

The third named Apostle came from the same town as Andrew and Simon, Bethsaida. We could identify Philip as a NEIGHBOR. Perhaps Andrew, Simon and Philip had played together as boys and had attended Sabbath School at the synagogue. These men trusted each other and when Philip was invited to come meet Jesus, he came. Now the text says that Jesus himself found Philip, but I am assuming that Jesus would have not found him unless Andrew and Simon had initially invited him. The details are not complete in the story; however, I do know that in my years of ministry the vast majority who have come, have initially been invited by one who has previously discovered discipleship. We do have some who initially visit our church because of our advertising in the newspapers, local magazines, and in the yellow pages. We have some who come as a result of our cable television rebroadcast of our worship services that Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters estimates reaches seventy thousand per week; however most of those who join our church come initially by the invitation of a FRAN.

The fourth of the first Apostles was Philip’s FRIEND, Nathaniel. Philip probably called him “Nat,” as are all my Nathaniel friends referred to among buddies. Bethsaida was a small town and all four men probably had grown up together. It was natural that they would believe each other when they heard that one of their group had found the long expected Messiah. “Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathaniel said to him, ‘can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ (v.45 & 46)”

Such a small beginning to a movement that would cover the entire earth and change the course of human history. All big things start small. Our little gain in membership this year could be a beginning of something big. Our smoldering embers could ignite and become a flaming fire that could attract thousands to the glorious light of Jesus Christ. That is our vision.

During 1998 our church experienced its first net gain in full members in a long time. Most of this was due to the working of FRAN. No, FRAN is not a person, although many individuals do get credit for this gain, FRAN is a simple evangelism process that has encouraged us to reach out to our own circle of relationships. Our reward is always great when be bring someone to meet the Master.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

1/17/99, E2A