One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.…
We cannot tell certainly who was the first foreign missionary. But we know who was the first home missionary — Andrew.
I. THE SPRING of all true home mission work. Andrew had himself made acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ. We must come into personal contact with Christ, be in the house with Him, learn to know Him as the Lamb of God. In the degree in which men have been in the house with Christ, and have learned to know Him, will they be ready to go out with the message to others.
II. THE OBJECT of the first home mission. It was not enough for Andrew to speak to his brother about Christ, his aim is to bring him as close to Christ as he himself had been. We should be satisfied with nothing less. Here is a lesson for parents with their children, for a teacher with his scholars, for a minister with his hearers. We must neither begin nor end with ourselves. In this object of Andrew, notice —
1. He was perfectly sure that Christ was willing to receive his brother. It does not appear that Christ had said anything about this. And Andrew does not seem to have thought it needful to ask Christ. He knew it from the way in which He had welcomed him.
2. Andrew is sure that he himself can have his own share in no way diminished. There would not be less of truth and love falling to his lot when Peter came to have his part. If a man covets land or wealth or power, the more he gives away the less he possesses. But let a man bring others to the treasures of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his own share will be increased.
III. THE PLACE of this mission.
1. There are some who say we should have no foreign missions till our own country is redeemed. But these people forget that when Christ said, "Preach the Gospel among all nations," etc. He did not say stopping at Jerusalem. They forget that if the apostles had acted on this principle we should have been heathen still. They forget, moreover, that it was only when the Church of Christ began to think seriously of the foreign heathen that she had her thoughts turned to the home heathen. We generally find that those who are always talking of confining our attention to the home heathen are those who do least for them.
2. But this surely we may say, that in our zeal for the foreign heathen we are not to forget our own kinsfolk; and here are some reasons —
(1) They have not the only claim upon us, but they have the first claim. "Go home to thy friends," etc.
(2) And even for our own sakes we must think of home. We cannot let masses of ignorance and sin and wretchedness fester and grow, without bringing a blight on our own Christianity. It is like having an unwholesome marsh beside our house; it spreads malaria and fever and ague. Think of your children living in this atmosphere, and of the danger to them in the sights and sounds and associations around them.
(3) In the home mission field there is opportunity for every one of us to do something personally, Few of us can go to the foreign field. But there is always a sphere not far from our own door.
(4) It seems to be part of the Divine plan that this opportunity should be given to Christians for the benefit it brings to themselves. It is thus we are to be like our Master, "going about doing good," and to grow always more like Him in the work of doing it. As the Church labours for the world around her, she would feel the duty of arising and shaking herself from the dust and putting on her beautiful garments.
IV. THE TIME. Andrew did not wait till he had been made an apostle, or even a regular disciple. He began at once. If we never think about doing good to the souls of men till we are licensed, we should think seriously if we ought to be licensed at all; and if, when we are licensed or ordained, we look upon our work as a task, and measure carefully what we have to do and what we have not to do, we should ask ourselves, "Is this not the place of a hireling." And the same lesson comes home to all. A man may never think of being a minister or missionary; but he is not thereby freed from the duty of beginning at once to speak a word to his brother about the Gospel of Christ. And it is not necessary to wait for a great deal of knowledge; let us use the knowledge we have, not pretending to more. All cannot speak in public, teach in the Sabbath-school, go from house to house and influence strangers, but what one is there who has not some neighbour, by whom his word will be regarded? Like that of Andrew, it may be simply "We have found the Christ." But it will serve the purpose if it leads the man to where he will learn more. This is, indeed, all that any of us, if we are true speakers, need to say, "We have found the Christ; He has met our need, answered our desire. He will meet yours; will you not come and see?"
V. THE SPIRIT of the first home mission. Andrew went to his brother from his interest in him. Ha did this naturally, not from calculation, but because he had it in his heart. It is in this spirit we must go to our fellow-men, whether they be closely related or not. They are our brethren, with the same nature, needs, sins, sorrows, destinies. It is love to Christ and love to men that are the secret of power in Christian persuasion. We shall never have great success otherwise. Andrew did not say to his brother, "Go;" he took him by the hand and led him.
VI. ITS SUCCESS. Andrew gained his brother — a great encouragement. Perhaps we may see much fruit, even here. In any case, if our work be sincere and loving and prayerful, if we go out from Christ to men that we may bring men to Christ, the work will not be in vain. We may touch one who will touch many more. A humble soldier may draw in some young recruit who may become a leader among thousands and subdue kingdoms. Conclusion: If the work is to be well and perseveringly done, there should be common counsel and co-operation. Many are afraid to commit themselves. Andrew, indeed, went alone — he could do nothing else; but our Lord sent them out two and two, and brought them together again to speak and hear about their work.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.