Great Texts of the Bible
One of the two that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ). He brought him unto Jesus.—John 1:40-42.
According to St. John’s narrative, Andrew and John (who characteristically does not name himself in the narrative) were the first men who heard and responded to the Master’s call, the first whom He enlisted in His little cohort of disciples. They had previously been followers of John the Baptist; but one day as Christ passed by they heard that prophet speak of Him as the Lamb of God, and they looked into His face and felt some wonderful attraction drawing them to Him, and all uninvited they followed and abode with Him one day. What Christ did with them and what He said on that day we know not, but it removed every doubt from their minds if any doubt had lingered there. It was a day of revelation, a day of grace, the most wonderful and the happiest day that these men had yet known, for they had found the Saviour of the world.
And then we have this incident recorded. Andrew had no sooner made his great discovery, than he burned to impart the secret to others. Quickly therefore he sought his own brother Simon and passed on the glad tidings—“We have found the Christ,” and “he brought him to Jesus.” Here, then, we have to deal with (1) a great discovery, (2) a great enthusiasm kindled by that discovery, and (3) a great service accomplished as the result of the enthusiasm.
This is one of the famous personal work chapters. There are three “findeths” in it. Andrew findeth his brother Peter. That was a great find. John in his modesty does not speak of it, but in all likelihood he findeth James his brother. Jesus findeth Philip, and Philip in turn findeth Nathanael, the guileless Man 1:1 [Note: S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Service, 27.]
A Great Discovery
“We have found the Messiah.”
1. It was a great day in the life of Andrew when he uttered these words. It was a great day also in the life of the race, for he announced to his brother, Peter, a discovery fraught with importance far beyond his own comprehension.
(1) “We have found.” They had been looking for Him. The Jews were the nation of hope. Both Andrew and Peter, we may be sure, had heard of the Messiah, the hope of Israel, all their lives. From the earliest antiquity, down through the centuries of the tragic, chequered, strange career of this extraordinary people, there had presented itself, with varying degrees of distinctness, the hope of a Coming One who would be the source of great, although for many centuries undefined, blessings. They had been taught as children, as young men, to put the precious promises of Scripture together, just as nowadays family treasures are taken out and scanned, and arranged and re-arranged, and put back again, from time to time. These promises were the splendid inheritance of the great Jewish family, carried by it everywhere in its sufferings—carried by it throughout the civilized world; and the Galilean peasants, like all others of the race of Israel, felt that they were ennobled by having a share in this great possession. How much that we cannot even understand, in this age of the world, was gathered into those pregnant words: “We have found the Messiah.”
(2) “The Messiah (which is, being interpreted, Christ).” What did Andrew mean when he said “Christ”? In the thought of the best men of that time the word “Christ” set forth a Heaven-commissioned Prince, the Deliverer of the oppressed people, who should lead His followers to dignity, freedom, and happiness, and in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. This indeed Christ fulfilled, though not in the way Andrew imagined when he ran to Peter with his great discovery. For to the popular conception of the Christ our Lord added the momentous fact that the Messianic goal was to be reached by suffering, humiliation, and death, and that His supreme duty as the Anointed of God was to give Himself up for the race that rejected Him.
(3) How did Andrew find out Jesus to be the Messiah? There is no reason to think that Jesus told him so. The more carefully we study our Lord’s own words about Himself, the more convinced we shall be that He made no such revelation to an inquiring disciple at this early period. He had seen no miracles to convince him, for it is not till the next chapter that we hear of Christ’s first miracle. As far as we can judge, every sign of outward power was wanting; for all he could see, Jesus might be the weakest and the most helpless of mankind. What was it then that led him to speak so confidently to Peter? Surely it must have been, first, the effect of Christ’s unutterable goodness; and, secondly, that of Christ’s inward power, the power of spirit over spirit. Good men, no doubt, as we commonly call men good, he had seen and known before, as almost all of us have done; but here was One whose deep and perfect goodness made Andrew feel as if he were in the presence of God Himself. His own heart was sound and right enough to know the true marks of One come from God.
(4) But when Andrew spoke thus, he knew little of the real Christ. During the next three years he was to be continually finding Christ. He found Him anew in the Sermon on the Mount. He grew larger to his thought as he saw Him heal the sick, teach the inquiring, forgive the sinning. He grew still mightier as he watched Him feed the thousands, still the storm, and raise the dead. And the Christ in the upper room, in Gethsemane, and on Calvary, towered still higher above the Christ to whom he introduced his brother, and was in turn surpassed by the Christ of the Resurrection morning and the Ascension Mount. It is a red-letter day in any man’s life when he finds Christ, but that is only the beginning of his religious life. From that point we “follow on to know the Lord.”
2. To-day our Lord is living and working among us, revealing His glory and manifesting His power, to a far greater degree than when He trod the plains of Galilee, or taught in the Temple courts. But of this the majority of men are little conscious. The need of our times is for men and women who can say with the conviction of Andrew, “We have found the Christ.” Amidst the perplexities of our modern life, there is a cry for those who can speak with certainty of Divine things. It was the peerless personality of the Son of God that first attracted Andrew, and made him declare to Peter the discovery he had made. And the same attraction is operating to-day. Men are not won by beliefs about Christ, but by Christ Himself.
(1) If we would find Christ, we must be looking for Him, and preparing for Him. God taught His own chosen people for whole generations. He taught them about the Messiah, who He would be, what He would do, preparing by His messengers the way before Him; and the consequence of all that steady, systematic teaching was that, when the fulness of the time was come, and one brother said to another, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write,” they had not to ask who was meant; they took all their old religious knowledge and religious teaching in their hand and went to Jesus, and found Him to be all that they had learnt He would be. And so with our teaching of religious truth; we teach the history of Christ, and His sermons and His parables and His miracles; and we teach, laboriously perhaps, and in the sweat of our brow, the meaning of His Word and of His Sacraments. It is not labour lost. When the fire from heaven descends upon the sacrifice to consume it, it does so all the more readily because the prophet had previously prepared the altar, and set the wood in order, and laid the sacrifice on the wood.
(2) But we must not be content to know about Christ. We must come into personal contact with Him. We must be in the house with Him, we must learn to know Him as the Son of God and the Lamb of God—as that One who came from His Father to be our Brother, to share our nature and to bear our sins and to take us back to God as His Father and our Father, His God and our God—a Friend in sickness and sorrow and death, who points us through death to life eternal. This is the one great discovery, compared with which all other inventions are shortlived opiates of an hour—a little ease on the road to death.
(3) Having recognized the Master when we are brought face to face with Him, we must trust Him as Andrew did. Possibly these early disciples may have thought that, having “found Christ,” the rest was easy and secure; that the new Kingdom of great David’s greater Son would present no difficulties, either to flesh and blood or to mind or spirit; that, having found and recognized and honoured the King, there was nothing to follow but position and privilege, and glory such as the Kingdom could and would liberally supply. If this was their thought, they were quickly to be undeceived. The King, though personally dearer to them every day, seemed every day to become more mysterious and unintelligible, and His Kingdom more disappointing and more remote. If He began to tell them about His coming Kingdom, He spoke in parables which they could not understand. If He showed evidence of His superhuman power, it seemed to be His policy to restrain the publication of those miraculous proofs as much as possible. When they suggested that an exhibition of His wrath in the way of punishment might be a warning to His opponents, He rebuked their ignorance of the very spirit of His Kingdom. When they expected Him to be telling them of coming triumph, He could speak only of persecution and suffering and death, until the uncontrollable “Be it far from thee” broke from the lips of their scandalized spokesman. What, then, was the charm, what was the bond, which held the Master and followers together? We answer without hesitation, it was their personal love of the Christ whom they had found. This was what made all disappointment at His want of success and all perplexity as to His doctrine equally unable to break up their little society. They did not pretend to understand His methods or His objects, but when He laid before them one of the hardest and most difficult of His doctrines, that which caused many of His disciples to go back, and walk no more with Him, Peter, answering for the Apostles, could neither turn back nor yet pretend to say that he understood the difficult matter in question; but in all the helplessness of a constraining love, with all the confidence of such a plenary devotion as has no other choice and wishes for no other, he put the seal on his former declaration, “We have left all, and followed thee,” by adding to it, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
(4) If we can say “We have found the Messiah,” it is now, as of old, enough. John in the desert, Andrew on the morrow after meeting the Redeemer, did not look like the men who were to initiate nothing less than the spiritual conquest of the world. But one truth, seriously believed and proclaimed with the accents of sincerity, will go a great way with any single soul. If, indeed, we have found the Messiah, not merely in a literature, not merely as an explanation of existing institutions, not merely as the centre of much thought and activity in this our time and day, not merely as an historical personage that must needs be recognized by intelligent men,—if we have found Him for ourselves, found Him as a still living friend, found Him in our prayers, found Him in our Bibles, found Him in our efforts to conquer deep-seated evil within us, found Him in our intercourse with His living servants, found Him in the appointed Sacrament of His love,—if we have found Him as the pardoner of sin and as the conqueror of sin, then we have motives enough and to spare for working for the evangelization of others, for bringing all whom we can to that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, to such ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there may be no place left either for error in religion or for viciousness in life.
3. Society must find Christ. The conception of Christ as the Saviour of individuals only is insufficient for the fulfilling of prophecy or the solution of historic problems. The institutions of men must be saved as truly as individual souls. The Christian design for the world is not an anarchy of good individuals. And it is as society finds Christ that it rejoices in the exhilarating pulsations of a diviner life than the older dispensations ever dreamed of. Modern civilization, so far as it is virtuous, philanthropic, and high-principled, is the result of Andrew’s discovery. And one of the great needs of our age is to extend the beneficent influence of this discovery. The spirit of Christ claims dominion over all life, and the principle of Christ’s own life must be the principle of the home, the shop, the school, the court, and in the work of every department of our many-sided activities. It is as men realize this, and practise it, that the time is hastened when the new Jerusalem shall descend out of heaven from God, having peace for its walls, righteousness for its foundations, and love for its law.
There is a great deal of good talk these days about regenerating society. It used to be that men talked about “reaching the masses.” Now the other putting of it is commoner. It is helpful talk whichever way it is put. The Gospel of Jesus is to affect all society. It has affected all society, and is to do so more and more. But the thing to mark keenly is this, the key to the mass is the man. The way to regenerate society is to start on the individual. The law of influence through personal contact is too tremendous to be grasped. You influence one man and you have influenced a group of men, and then a group around each man of the group, and so on endlessly. Hand-picked fruit gets the first and best market. The keenest marksmen are picked for the sharpshooters’ corps.1 [Note: S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Service, 29.]
A Great Enthusiasm
“He first findeth his own brother Simon.”
Andrew does not dream of keeping his great discovery to himself. His first thought is to tell it to his brother Simon. He is full of it—can think or talk of nothing else. His eye flashes, his face shines, his voice rings with the music of it. “Simon, we have found Christ.”
I like greatly the motto of the Salvation Army. It must have been born for those workers in the warm heart of the mother of the Army, Catherine Booth. That mother explains much of the marvellous power of that organization. Their motto is, “Saved to Serve.”2 [Note: lbid. 141.]
1. There is no joy known to human hearts so glorious, so imperative—breaking down all strongholds and through all restraints—as the joy of a heart in its first gladness in finding the Lord and knowing the forgiveness of sins. As Morley Punshon, the famous English preacher, said, there was joy in the breast of the sage of Syracuse when he shouted aloud his glad “Eureka” in the hearing of the people who deemed him mad; there was joy in the soul of Sir Isaac Newton when the first conception of the law of gravitation burst upon his thought as he sat under his orchard tree; there was joy in the heart of Columbus in that moment of triumph over doubt and mutiny, when the tiny land-birds settled upon the sails of his vessel, bearing upon their timid wings the welcomes of the new world; there is joy for the gold-finder, when he sees the precious ore shining in his gold-pan; joy for children when new marvels of the world open on their vision; joy for the poet when he sends through the world a glad thought that stirs the pulse of mankind; but none of these can compare with the joy of the ransomed sinner who can clasp his brother’s hand and say, “Come, brother, we have found the Lord.”
I remember well how I used to pray for joy. I was told that a Christian must be joyful. I prayed and prayed, and I must say I did not get it. Why not? Because it does not come by prayer alone. It may come that way, but not alone. I used to think that joy was kept in lumps—packets which were stored up and then doled out—or injected like morphia—and that if I prayed a lump would come. This is a material conception that many hold. They want virtues and graces, and they set-to and pray. They pray for rest, peace, love, joy, and they hope these will drop from heaven and stay with them for ever. But these are Fruits. How can you have Fruits without Branches? Where are your branches to bear fruit, where is your blossom to precede it? What’s the use of a lump of joy if there are no branches? Now, gentlemen, look up in your Bibles and find out how to get joy; find the cause of joy. Work by the law you know of as “cause and effect.” Joy is an effect, find the cause. There is one, just as surely as you have a cause for toothache. Turn to the fifteenth of John, and there you will read the parable of the Vine in the words of Jesus. He tells His disciples about the tree and its branches, and then He tells them the “why” of these things:—“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” That is the end of the parable—the cause of joy, something of which the effect is joy. Joy comes of a great law. But what is the condition? Go home and look and see. It is to do good. Abide in Christ and bring forth fruit, then comes the joy, and you can’t help yourself. You don’t make the joy. It simply follows after a certain cause, and I defy any man in this hall to go off and do something for somebody, comfort them, help them, any one whom you may meet—I say, I defy him to do that and not come back happier and full of joy.1 [Note: Drummond, in Smith’s Life of Henry Drummond, 496.]
2. Andrew started at once to spread the good tidings. The day after his conversion was the day in which he became a soul-winner. How instinctive and natural the impulse is, when a man has found Jesus Christ, to tell some one else about Him. Nobody said to Andrew, “Go and look for your brother”; and yet, as soon as he had fairly realized the fact that this Man standing before him was the Messiah, though the evening seems to have come, he hurried away to find his brother, and share with him the glad conviction. That is always the case. If a man has any real depth of conviction, he cannot rest till he tries to share it with somebody else. Why, even a dog that has had its leg mended will bring other limping dogs to the man who was kind to it. Whoever really believes anything becomes a propagandist. Look round about us to-day! and hearken to the Babel, the wholesale Babel of noises, where every sort of opinion is trying to make itself heard. It sounds like a country fair where every huckster is shouting his loudest. That shows that the men believe the things they profess. Thank God that there is so much earnestness in the world! And are Christians to be dumb whilst all this vociferous crowd is calling its wares, and quacks are standing on their platforms shouting out their specifics, which are mostly delusions? Have we not a medicine that will cure everything, a real heal-all, a veritable pain-killer? If we believe that we have, certainly we will never rest till we share our boon with our brethren.
I am, and have for a long time been, persuaded that if the Christian Church were to claim that fulness of the Holy Spirit which is her birthright, her equipment, the greatest of all her needs, the proportion of what we call evangelists to pastors and teachers would be very much larger than it is at present. Touched with this flame, not only a multitude of ministers, but of the laity, who have hardly tasted the ecstasy of soul-winning, would joyously respond to God’s call with a fervent “Here am I, send me!” Then He could and would send them, and they would come back laden with trophies of victory.1 [Note: T. Waugh, Twenty-three Years a Missioner, 65.]
3. Andrew did not wait until the Master had given him full equipment and training. He started with imperfect knowledge. As yet, and for long after, there was an earthly and mistaken element in Andrew’s idea of the Messiah whom he had found. He knew that the Messiah had come, but of the vast consequences to the world, to the soul, of that coming—consequences extending through the sphere of time into the depths of the eternal future, as we find these things developed in the Epistles of St. Paul—of these at such a time he must have had only an indistinct perception. One truth was clearly present to him, whatever else it might involve, and that one truth sufficed to kindle every affection and power of his spirit, to concentrate in its analysis every ray of his understanding,—“We have found the Messiah.” He had seen enough of Jesus in those few hours to be awed, attracted, won,—enough to know instinctively that John was right,—enough to know that here was one whom he could perfectly love and trust,—enough to know that the best thing he could possibly do for those nearest and dearest to himself was to tell them of his own experience.
In a list of Indian missionaries of Mohammedanism, published in the journal of a religious and philanthropic society of Lahore, says Arnold in The Preaching of Islam, “We find the names of schoolmasters, government clerks in the Canal and Opium Departments, traders, including a dealer in camel carts, an editor of a newspaper, a bookbinder, and a workman in a printing establishment. These men devote the hours of leisure left them after the completion of the day’s labour to the preaching of their religion in the streets and bazaars of Indian cities, seeking to win converts from among Christians and Hindus, whose religious belief they controvert and attack.” This is what constitutes the power of Islam. With no missionary organization, with no missionary order, the religion yet spread over Western Asia and Northern Africa, and retains still its foothold on the soil of Europe. Where the common man believes his religion and spreads it, other men believe it, too.1 [Note: R. E. Speer, A Young Man’s Questions, 55.]
A Great Service
“He brought him unto Jesus.”
“He brought him unto Jesus”; it was the kindest and best service that any human being could do to any other.
1. Consider the nature of the man who performed this service.
(1) Andrew was an ordinary man. He was not a genius. He does not play a conspicuous part in the gospel drama. We know him better than some of the other disciples, better than Bartholomew and Jude, but not nearly so well as Peter and John. He is one of the subordinate characters stepping on the stage here and there to do a bit of modest work, and then vanishing into the background. Men like Andrew are the one-talented men who use their one talent sweetly and nobly, and show us all the way we ought to go and the work which we can do.
We often think that if we had that man’s means or that man’s ability or that man’s opportunity, we could do something worth doing; but, as we are, there is no possibility of any great thing. Yet God does not want us to fill any other man’s place, or to do any other man’s work. God wants us to improve our own opportunity with the possessions and the powers that He has given us. It is a very great thing for us to do the very best we can do just where and as we are. God asks no one of us to do more than this, nor has any one of us a right to do less.1 [Note: M. D. Babcock, Thoughts for Everyday Living, 19.]
(2) Andrew had come from communion with Christ. He had spent a night with the Master, and in the sacred, secret converse of those few mysterious hours his whole life was altered. He had seen and had found the Christ. Here we have the secret of success. It is to be found in communion with Christ. This is the indispensable qualification of every Christian worker. It makes of the dwarf a giant, and without it the giant becomes a dwarf. In the Christian realm we can influence others only as we ourselves are influenced.
Place a bar of iron, cold and lifeless, by a piece of wood. The wood is not influenced at all, but when the iron is placed in the furnace and left there for a while and afterwards withdrawn, a change is then effected, for the iron seems to have ceased to be iron and to have become a mass of fire. If placed then by the side of the piece of wood how different is the result; as it has been influenced, so it influences, and the wood too becomes a mass of fire.2 [Note: William Arthur, The Tongue of Fire.]
(3) This ordinary man, coming from communion with Christ, shows three remarkable qualities—the courage which initiates, the sympathy which communicates with others, the humility which obliterates self. Courage, sympathy, humility—three chief elements in the saintly character.
(a) There is first of all the courage of the man, the boldness which takes the first step, the spirit which comes bravely forward while all others are hanging back, timid or irresolute. We have many phrases which bear testimony to the value and the rarity of this courage. We speak of breaking the ice, of shooting Niagara. It is a plunge into an unknown future, where none has gone before, of which none can foretell the consequences. We say that it is the first step which costs. We are lost in admiration of the soldier who steps forward to lead the forlorn hope, to storm the breach, though almost certain death is his destiny. The forlorn hope—does not the very phrase tell its own tale? Yes, it is the first step which costs. Where one—though only one—has gone before, it does not cost half—not a twentieth part—of the bravery, the resolution, for a second to follow. And for a third and a fourth the degree of courage required lessens in a rapidly decreasing scale. The first step was taken by Andrew. He was the leader of the forlorn hope of Christendom, the first to storm the citadel of the Kingdom of heaven, taking it as alone it can be taken—taking it by force. Be not deceived. Only the violent enter therein—only the brave, resolute, unflinching soldiers, who will brook no opposition, who make straight for truth and righteousness and love, come what may, who are ready to lose their lives that they may save them. This unique glory is Andrew’s. Peter may have held a more commanding position in the Church of Christ; Paul may have travelled over a larger area and gathered greater numbers into the fold; but Andrew’s crown has a freshness and a brightness of its own which shall never fade—a glory of which no man can rob it.
On Sunday afternoons the boys in his passage would often indulge in pillow fights or games of a somewhat rowdy order. In order to stop this, Hogg, now one of the eldest boys at Joynes’, suggested that they should all club together and have tea in his room, and then read aloud. He collected a large quantity of old Chambers’s Journals, in which he would look out any curious or interesting articles for these Sunday afternoons. After a time he proposed that before separating a chapter of Scripture should be read and a prayer offered. It must have cost any boy a great effort to make such a suggestion, though the fact that a strong religious revival was then moving England, and that the movement had touched even the great public schools, may have made it a slightly less difficult innovation than one would imagine. Yet his contemporaries own they “would not have stood it from any one else”; and he himself spoke of it as a “sore struggle.” As a matter of fact, very little opposition or ridicule was met with. Most of the boys respected him for having the courage of his convictions; the majority responded to the invitation; those who held aloof were by no means antagonistic. Young Hogg used to read the chapter, and usually made some remarks as he did so; occasionally other boys would take an active part, and thus gradually the Chambers’s Journals were dropped, and the gathering became a regular Bible Class.1 [Note: Quintin Hogg, 36.]
(b) The second quality is wholly different. It is the sympathy which mediates; the temper and character which draws others together; the “conductivity” of the man. It is a remarkable fact that, after this first meeting with Christ, every subsequent notice of Andrew specially brings out this feature in his character. It is not that he does any great thing himself, but that he is the means of getting great things done for or by others. What was his first impulse, what was his first act, after his call? Not the establishment of his own position with Christ, not the proclamation of his discovery on the housetops, nothing of self or self-seeking in any, even in its highest, form; but “he first findeth his own brother Simon”; “and he brought him to Jesus”—brought him who was henceforward to be the leader of the Apostles, the foremost after the Ascension to proclaim his risen Lord to a hostile world, the earliest to gather the first-fruits of the Gentiles into the garner of Christ.
Dr. Trumbull was often spoken of as being a man of exceptional “tact.” He practised pretty constantly at individual soul-winning from the time when he first found his Saviour, at twenty-one, until his death more than fifty years later. People who knew him and his ways, and his lifelong habit, have said of him, “Oh, it was ‘second nature’ to Dr. Trumbull to speak to a man about his soul. He simply couldn’t help doing it, it was so easy for him. I never could get his ease in the work.” And in so saying they showed how little they knew of him or of the demands of this work upon every man. The book on Individual Work was written after its author was seventy years of age. Hear what he had to say as to the “ease” which his long practice had brought him: “From nearly half a century of such practice, as I have had opportunity day by day, I can say that I have spoken with thousands upon thousands on the subject of their spiritual welfare. Yet, so far from my becoming accustomed to this matter, so that I can take hold of it as a matter of course, I find it as difficult to speak about it at the end of these years as at the beginning. Never to the present day can I speak to a single soul for Christ without being reminded by Satan that I am in danger of harming the cause by introducing it just now. If there is one thing that Satan is sensitive about, it is the danger of a Christian’s harming the cause he loves by speaking of Christ to a needy soul. He [Satan] has more than once, or twice, or thrice, kept me from speaking on the subject by his sensitive pious caution, and he has tried a thousand times to do so. Therefore my experience leads me to suppose that he is urging other persons to try any method for souls except the best one.”1 [Note: C. G. Trumbull, Taking Men Alive, 53.]
(c) The third feature in his character is intimately connected with the second. To Andrew was given the humility which obliterates self. He, who brought others forward, was content himself to retire. Just as at a later date Barnabas, the primitive disciple, took Saul by the hand, introduced him to the elder Apostles, and started him on his career as an Evangelist, content that his own light should wane in the greater glory of this new and more able missionary of Christ, so was it now. Andrew was the first called Apostle. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Christ. Yet Andrew is known only as Simon Peter’s brother. We know in what school he had learnt this lesson. Andrew was the Baptist’s disciple, and was not this the lesson of the Baptist’s life? “He must increase, but I must decrease”—obscuration, eclipse, obliteration of self. The personality of Andrew is lost in the personality of Simon. So it is truly said that the world knows nothing of its greatest benefactors. They are lost in their work, or are lost in others.
Lord, I read at the transfiguration that Peter, James, and John were admitted to behold Christ; but Andrew was excluded. So again at the reviving of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, these three were let in, and Andrew shut out. Lastly, in the agony, the aforesaid three were called to be witnesses thereof, and still Andrew left behind. Yet he was Peter’s brother, and a good man, and an apostle; why did not Christ take the two pair of brothers? was it not a pity to part them? But methinks I seem more offended thereat than Andrew himself was, whom I find to express no discontent, being pleased to be accounted a loyal subject for the general, though he was no favourite in these particulars. Give me to be pleased in myself, and thankful to thee, for what I am, though I be not equal to others in personal perfections. For such peculiar privileges are courtesies from thee when given, and no injuries to us when denied.1 [Note: Thomas Fuller.]
2. Consider the manner of the service.
(1) It was service rendered as the result of experience.—No sermon did Andrew preach that day. He simply uttered one sentence, “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” Who could not have uttered such a sentence, if he had possessed the experience? The man who had experienced the effect of his eyes being opened, the woman who had experienced the opening out of her life before her eyes—both spoke with such power that men believed the words they uttered. So Andrew had found the Messiah, and the words of such a man, though few, had a weight such as those of a Demosthenes could not carry. Eloquence can never make up for the lack of experience. Experience with one sentence can move men as eloquence without it can never do, and Andrew with his one sentence brought Peter to Christ. When the Holy Ghost fell upon the Apostles they went out stating that God had “shed forth this”; so, to-day, the man who has spent the night with the Christ can go forth and, with the light of joy in his life, and the ring of conviction in his tone, can say, “We have found the Christ,” and men will listen to his message.
Some of us are influenced by argument and some of us are not. You may pound a man’s mistaken creed to atoms with sledge-hammers of reasoning, and he is not much nearer being a Christian than he was before; just as you may pound ice to pieces and it is pounded ice after all. The mightiest argument that we can use, and the argument that we can all use, if we have got any religion in us at all, is that of Andrew, “We have found the Messiah.”2 [Note: A. Maclaren.]
When John Wesley went as a missionary to Georgia, he went, as he writes, “to save his own soul”; but two years later he returned to England a disappointed man, having saved neither his own soul nor those of the colonists and Indians. “I who went to America to convert others,” he says, “was never myself converted.” Then, with a new accession of self-forgetfulness, he turned from his own salvation to the service of others. The words spoken of his Master came home to him: “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” He was no longer Wesley the ritualist, but Wesley the missionary. “He first findeth his own brother Simon,” and soon his own life acquired confidence and peace. “His soul was saved,” says his biographer, “because he had found his work.”1 [Note: F. G. Peabody, Mornings in the College Chapel, ii. 59.]
(2) It was service rendered by the utterance of one sentence.—Andrew was a young convert and had no learning. He could not argue about it, and he could not preach about it—all of which was a great mercy. Because he could do nothing else he had to stick to the point—“We have found the Messiah.” The simple sentence uttered by one man to another is often the way by which men are brought into touch with Christ. We cannot all be preachers to the crowd, nor are we all called to such a work; but we are all qualified and we are all called to pass the message on to any one into whose company we may be thrown.
The real powers of the Early Church were not men who could harangue crowds or arouse congregations by their fervid appeals, but men who could talk to a brother, a friend, a companion, a neighbour, about the wonderful love and beauty of Jesus Christ, and out of the fulness of their own joys testify to those nearest them of the new life which they had found. It was in that way chiefly, and not by the orators of the Church, that Christianity was spread in the early days. A man who had realized the blessedness of it passed it on to the one next to him. It went like a forest fire, each tree kindled set fire to another. Each convert was as good as two, for each one made a second. The Christian plant, like every other, propagated itself; the flower of its joy dropped seed as it ripened into fruit. Prisoners whispered the glad secret to their gaolers, soldiers to their comrades, servants to their masters, women to every one who would listen. Each saved soul was eager to save another, eager to pluck a brand from the burning and win a jewel for Christ. So the work went on, so the army of the Lord grew, so the great Roman Empire was slowly subdued under the Cross, and Christianity made the ruling faith of the world.1 [Note: J. G. Greenhough.]
I recently read a story in some newspaper or other about a minister who preached a very elaborate course of lectures in refutation of some form of infidelity, for the special benefit of a man who attended his place of worship. Soon after, the man came and declared himself a Christian. The minister said to him, “Which of my discourses was it that removed your doubts?” The reply was, “Oh! it was not any of your sermons that influenced me. The thing that set me thinking was that a poor woman came out of the chapel beside me, and stumbled on the steps, and I stretched out my hand to help her, and she said, ‘Thank you!’ Then she looked at me and said, ‘Do you love Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour?’ And I did not, and I went home and thought about it; and now I can say I love Jesus.”2 [Note: A. Maclaren.]
(3) Andrew did not wait till he could talk to a crowd; he took the message to one.—Have you ever noticed what stress the Scripture lays upon one soul—as if with a tender regard for the hidden workers who deal with the one at a time? There is joy among the angels in the presence of God over one sinner that repenteth. It is the one sheep that the Shepherd seeketh, and bringeth home with rejoicing. It is the one piece of money that the woman makes so much of. It is the one son that has all to himself the loveliest parable that earth—or surely heaven either—has ever listened to. “He brought him to Jesus”—do not wait for them.
We are told of a minister in Scotland, who was called to task by some of the Church officers because of his want of success. And he had to confess that during the whole year only one young man had joined the Church, so that his heart was sick within him. But that very night the same young man spoke to his pastor of his intention of becoming a missionary. Then the pastor’s grief was turned into joy, and he thought that the work would be judged by quality rather than by quantity. The young man was Robert Moffat, who afterwards became famous by his mission work in the dark continent. The year of his conversion was not barren in the annals of that country parish after all.3 [Note: H. C. Williams.]
In the Introduction to his Lives of Twelve Good Men, Burgon gives a sketch of two or three others whom he knew and who deserved to be called “good.” Among them is Charles Portalés Golightly. He says: The Rev. T. Mozley (who is not promiscuous in his bestowal of praise) “acknowledges the greatest of obligations” to him. “Golightly” (he says) “was the first human being to talk to me, directly and plainly, for my soul’s good; and that is the debt that no time, no distance, no vicissitudes, no differences, can efface; no, not eternity itself.” On which, Dean Goulburn remarks—“But this was what Golightly was always doing; and, for the sake of doing which, he cultivated the acquaintance of all undergraduates who were introduced to him; showed them no end of kindness, walked with them, talked with them, took them with him for a Sunday excursion to his little parish of Toot Baldon.”1 [Note: J. W. Burgon, Lives of Twelve Good Men, i., xxv.]
(4) The closer the tie, the more emphatic the testimony.—It is what brother says to brother, husband to wife, parent to child, friend to friend, far more than what preacher says to hearer, that carries with it irresistible, persuasive power. When the truth of the utterance is vouched for by the obvious gladness and purity of the life; when the finding of the Christ is obviously as real as the finding of a better situation and as satisfying as promotion in life, then conviction will be carried with the announcement.
Some who would not hesitate to speak of spiritual things to casual strangers find their tongues tied when they ought to speak for God to a wife, a husband, a brother, or a child. It is perhaps because we have an instinctive feeling that our intimate associates know us too well; they would feel that some inconsistency, not to say insincerity, in our Christian conversation should make us silent. Let the thought of our duty to those we love drive us to commune with our hearts and discover what it is that ties our tongue and hinders us from giving the word of warning or exhortation that is due.2 [Note: C. Bickersteth, The Gospel of Incarnate Love, 10.]
3. Consider the success of the service.
Andrew gained his brother. Simon yielded and went, and the first interview must have gladdened Andrew’s heart. When Jesus beheld him He said: “Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A Stone.” We cannot now tell all that Peter did; how his boldness and open confession of Christ confirmed the hearts of Andrew and his fellow-disciples; how, though he fell, he received this charge: “Strengthen thy brethren”; how thousands were converted in a day by his preaching; and how, in the Epistles he has left, he has been made such an instrument for comforting and building up the people of God in all ages. We hear very little afterwards of Andrew; no doubt he continued to work in the spirit of his first mission effort, and no doubt also he had his continued success; yet he had not the ability and energy of Peter, and he retires into the shade. But we cannot forget that it is to Andrew we owe Simon Peter, and all that he did. Often afterwards, we may well believe, when Andrew saw Peter’s character unfolding, when he beheld him opening the door of faith on the Day of Pentecost, and standing forth as one of the pillars of the Christian Church, he must have thanked Christ that He not only touched his own heart, but put it into his heart to bring his brother.
God often uses minnows to catch salmon. It may be the consolation that He gives to the ungifted, that they should be the means of bringing to Jesus the eminently useful. There is Ananias leading the blind Saul to the Saviour; and little Bilney leading sturdy Hugh Latimer; and John Bunyan drawn by the godly gossip of the old women at Bedford; and John Wesley led by the simple Moravians. In our own time instances are plentiful enough. We think of Spurgeon going burdened to the Primitive Methodists, and hearing from some plain man who murdered the Queen’s English the way of life everlasting. We think of Thomas Binney, led by the simple workman to the Methodist Class-meeting, and there having the good seed sown. Andrew did a good day’s work when he brought Simon to Jesus. It is a sign of genius when you can turn to good account the gifts of other people. Let us be geniuses of that sort if we cannot be of any other. And the best way to turn any man’s gifts to good account is to bring him to Jesus.
Consider the untold capacities for high saintliness which lie buried in the mass of men who, as yet, know nothing of grace and truth. Our cities—these great hives of agglomerated human beings—abound with men and women who are, in the eye of society—who are, it may be, in the eye of the law—among the worst and the vilest, but who have bright and clear understandings; who have warm and generous hearts; who need but the illumination of truth, and the invigorating touch of grace, to become great in the true sense of that much misused word. “I have much people in this city,” was the motto traced by Christ Himself over one of the most vicious towns of ancient heathendom. Humanity is like a mine wherein flints and diamonds lie side by side in an indistinguishable disorder until the light of Divine knowledge is poured in upon the buried mass, and the hidden beauties of lives outwardly degraded are revealed. How often does it happen that the found are greater, far greater, than the finder; that Peter, in the event, takes precedence altogether of Andrew; that those who enter last into the Kingdom of heaven are bidden, in the eternal presence-chamber, to stand among the first.1 [Note: Canon Liddon.]
Assheton (R. O.), The Kingdom and the Empire, 51.
Banks (L. A.), Christ and His Friends, 56.
Bickersteth (C.), The Gospel of Incarnate Love, 1.
Boyd (A. K. H.), Changed Aspects of Unchanged Truths, 54.
Broughton (L. G.), The Soul-Winning Church, 62.
Burrell (D. J.), Christ and Men, 40.
Chapman (J. W.), Bells of Gold, 56.
Darlow (T. H.), The Upward Calling, 90.
Greenhough (J. G.), in Men of the New Testament, 83.
Hall (W. A. N.), “Do Out the Duty,” 67.
Horne (C. S.), The Relationships of Life, 31.
Hort (F. J. A.), Village Sermons, i. 117.
Ker (J.), Sermons, ii. 100.
Liddon (H. P.), Sermons (Contemporary Pulpit Library), iv. 109.
Lightfoot (J. B.), Sermons on Special Occasions, 160.
Maclaren (A.), Expositions: John i.–viii. 62.
Matheson (G.), Rests by the River, 246.
Peabody (F. G.), Mornings in the College Chapel, ii. 58.
Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, i. 337.
Punshon (W. M.), Sermons, i. 1.
Raleigh (A.), From Dawn to the Perfect Day, 250.
Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, x. (1864) No. 570; xv. (1869) No. 855.
Stuart (J. G.), Talks about Soul Winning, 63.
Virgin (S. H.), Spiritual Sanity, 61.
Watts-Ditchfield (J. E.), Here and Hereafter, 105.
Wells (J.), Christ in the Present Age, 61.
Wheeler (W. C.), Sermons and Addresses, 9.
Williams (H. C.), Christ the Centre, 114.
Christian World Pulpit, xxxvii. 177 (Sloan); lxiv. 139 (Gregg).
Churchman’s Pulpit: Mission Work: xvii. 223 (Maguire).
Examiner, Feb. 2, 1905, p. 100 (Jowett).