November 24, 2019
Pastor Ricky Smith
In our modern day of technology, it’s amazing how things can happen. A couple of years ago, there was this kid named Ryan who thought that he would take a camera, do a little toy review, and put it on YouTube. Now, it’s Ryan’s Toy Review, and if you just open up YouTube and put in the letter “R”, it’s the first thing that comes up. He is the top grossing YouTuber in the world. Last year, his worth was 22.5 million dollars, and he now has his own toy line in Walmart.
How in the world does this happen? -starting in your living room just reviewing toys and going global? Well, here’s how it happens: through the beauty of social media, YouTube, marketing, and all those kinds of things. Somebody sees this and says, “Hey, this is great!” They share it. That person with whom it was shared likes it. They share, and exponential multiplication starts to happen. And now we have this word in our vocabulary of something going “viral”.
We can now take have this little kid in his living room, and he is an internet sensation or phenomenon, a millionaire. And his mama and daddy love that little boy, Ryan, don’t you think? Now, we understand how this can work in the economy of scale in terms of social media sharing. But let’s just look at it in real everyday life.
How many times are you having a conversation with someone (it may be the family around the dinner table. It may be around the water cooler or the coffee pot at work), and somebody in the conversation will say something like this: “Hey, did you hear about ___?” Or, “Did you see the other day, ___?” Or, “Did you hear that Frozen is starting? Have you got your tickets yet?” And then this word-of-mouth starts to spread. We do this naturally every day.
And now, when we contextualize that viral spreading of something that we feel is worth sharing, then we ask ourselves this honest question: Am I that confident, courageous and consistent in how I broadcast and proclaim the Gospel? Inreality, that’s what God has called us to do. We are to have this same mentality of, “Hey, did you hear? Did you hear that Jesus has come?” When we look at the Christmas story, that’s what the shepherds did, right? They just went and told everybody the good news, and it began to spread. And you and I, we are tasked, privileged, encouraged, challenged, commanded, and mandated to go into all the world and make disciples, spread the good news, proclaim the Gospel. That is our mission.
Today, to help give us a launching pad into this Advent season, we’re going to look at a character study. We’re going to take one of the disciples of Jesus and see some principles from him that perhaps can help motivate us to walk through this season together with some intentionality. That is the key word. John chapter one, verse 35 is where we’re going to begin. We’re talking about this guy named Andrew. This is when Andrew was called by Jesus.
John 1:35-40 ESV
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.
We’re going to talk about Andrew today because I think there is a lot we can learn from him. Let’s just make a really quick observation. When Andrew comes onto the scene here in John 1:35, we see that he clearly was someone who was interested in spiritual things. He wanted to pursue faith. He had some commitment to go the next level in the practice of Judaism because he was following John the Baptist.
You see, in the cultural context of this day, it was very common for a rabbi or a teacher to have people following him around. That was part of their educational system. And so, here Andrew is. He’s clearly interested; he’s clearly motivated. He clearly wants to grow, learn, and pursue God. So, he’s following John the Baptist. But when Jesus walks by and John turns his attention to say, “This is the person you should be following,” what does Andrew do? He says, “I’ve got to go find this out.”
There’s so much that we can learn from Andrew in his desire and his pursuit to grow. I can’t help but make an assumption: If you are here, it is because you have a desire to grow. You have a desire to learn. You at least have a willingness to listen. Someone may have dragged you here by your ear, but you are here by divine appointment.
Andrew saw the value of the individual
Let’s see what we can learn together. Here is the first point: Andrew saw the value of the individual. We see this in the next two verses. Watch what Andrew does in verses 41 and 42.
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, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Okay, check the timeline. Andrew was following John, pursuing, desiring to learn and grow. He is pointed to Jesus and immediately goes and tries to learn from Jesus. Upon meeting and spending some time with Him, the first thing he does is, he sees the value of the individual. He doesn’t go to just any individual; he goes to his brother.
Here’s what I know about us, and I see it even in Andrew’s life: The most challenging place for us to share Jesus is with our family. The people who know us the most and who know us in the deep, most intimate ways, they are truthfully the most difficult people to share Jesus with. And I get it. I mean, if I try to share Jesus with somebody in my family, they are like, “No, no, no, no, no. I remember what you did when you were five, and I will never let you live that down.” They’ve got the dirt on us, and they are not afraid to bring it back up. So, it is extremely difficult to proclaim the good news, proclaim the Gospel, and to show the love of Jesus to the people who are closest to us, the people we love the most. The people we long to grow in Jesus the most are the hardest.
And I can’t help but think about that as we walk into this holiday season, because through this week, especially Thanksgiving, you are going to have the opportunity to connect with, spend time with, and reconnect with both in-laws and outlaws over the next couple of days. You’ll spend time with them and love them, but there is sometimes tension and friction, right? It’s not all roses all the time.
Why? -because we know each other so well, and we get on each other’s nerves sometimes. But even those people whom we love so deeply and we want to share Jesus with, we definitely want to be with together in eternity in Heaven. We’ve got to see the value of the individual and have the courage to go to them.
I’ll tell you a story from my life. I remember, I came to faith in Christ when I was eight, and so, as best as I can timeline things in the childhood memory, this was probably in that nine or ten year old timeframe. I had an uncle whom I loved dearly, and he was a truck driver. He would drive across the country, and in typical uncle fashion, when he was home, he would just shower his nieces and nephews with gifts. And of course, then, what does that mean? You love this uncle, right? It’s a no-brainer. He’s giving you gifts; you love this uncle.
But this uncle did not know Jesus. He was a stereotypical, classic truck driver guy. -hard, ruthless. And he drove across the country all the time. So, I began to listen and try to practice what I was being taught. In our church, when every worship experience ended, the altar was open. Somebody could come forward and just kneel and pray. Every service (this was back in the days of Sunday morning church, Sunday night church, and Wednesday night church), I would come down to the altar, kneel, and pray.
And, what would you do if you saw a little boy down at the altar praying every week? Some sweet saint in the church would kneel down with me, wrap their arm around me, and say, “Can I pray with you about something?” And I would say, “I’m just praying for my uncle.” This went on and on. I don’t know how long this happened, but I remember it being a while.
I remember particularly one Wednesday night, though. In typical routine, I came down to pray. “What are you praying for?” “I’m praying for my uncle.” “Okay.” Church dismissed, we were mingling, and I noticed there being some noise in the back of the church. To make a long story short, my uncle walked in the door. He had just finished a cross-country trip, and he parked his tractor trailer in the parking lot of the church. He came in and found his sister, who was my mom, and he said these words: “I don’t know why I’m here other than to tell you that God just told me I needed to come here, and I need Jesus.” Powerful life change happened in that moment.
Why do I tell you this? Here’s the point: The faithful, consistent prayer for someone has power. Andrew sees the power of the individual. What about you? Who is that family member? Who is that co-worker? Who is that person that is impressed upon your heart? Who is the person you would be willing to pray for every day by name, that they would see their need for Jesus?
If a face or a name has come to your mind, I encourage you to write that name down. Who is that person? Write their name down, and have the courage, have the faithfulness, have the discipline to call their name out to God every day, that they would see their need for Him. And you have the courage to bring God up in a conversation with them. God may use you as the mouthpiece to point them to Jesus.
Andrew saw the value of the individual, and he went straight to the person that was the most difficult. Here is the principle I need us to understand today: The most effective evangelism takes place on an individual and personal level.
The most effective evangelism takes place on an individual, personal level.
It’s you walking through fire with people. It’s you building relationships with people. It’s you loving your neighbor as yourself. It’s you cultivating that care and you consistently and faithfully showing the love of Christ, having the courage to speak and proclaim the Gospel to them at an individual, personal level. What does that look like in your life? I would say, what could that look like in your life this week? You may naturally have a little time off from work, a little more time with those you love. How can you and I be intentional on a personal and individual level this week to share Jesus with someone?
Andrew saw the value of the insignificant
Not only did Andrew see the value of the individual; we’re going to flip over a couple of chapters and see that Andrew saw the value in the insignificant. Flip over a couple of pages to John chapter six. We’re going to read a story that is so familiar to many of us.
In fact, if you’ve been around church for any season of time, you know of this story. If you’ve never been to church before, you still may have heard of this story. It’s that well known. But what I want our attention to be on, is look for Andrew in this story, and see what he does. John 6:1-12.
1 After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
Now, the important part of this passage is not necessarily the food, although that is very impressive. Clearly the point is the power of Jesus being on display. But for the sake of our conversation today, I want our attention to be on Andrew, because Andrew saw the value of the insignificant. It’s almost as if Philip gives this excuse why this shouldn’t be able to happen, and Andrew says, “Hey Jesus, what can you do with this?”
We see his confidence. It’s a statement of faith. He sees value in something that otherwise would feel insignificant. And here’s the truth that we can step away with: There is no gift, no ability, and no person too small for Jesus to use and bless. There is nobody who is too insignificant that Jesus can’t use you. There is no gift that you bring that is insignificant. There is value in it.
No gift, no ability, and no person is too small for Jesus to use and bless!
Sometimes we may look at ourselves, and we may say, “Well, I see this tremendous need, and I can only contribute so much.” Hey, there’s no gift too small, because look what Jesus can multiply and use. Sometimes we may view our gift as insignificant. Sometimes we may view our routine and the exercise of our faith as insignificant.
Here’s what I mean. Can we just be transparent? There are times in our faith journey when it feels like we’re going through the motions, and our routine feels boring and insignificant. I mean, there are times when we go through a rhythm where it feels like, “Well, I’m just going to get up in the morning, and I’m going to read my Bible, drink my coffee, and then I’m going by the school, going to work…” We just get in this cycle, right? Admit it. It’s okay.
Sometimes the rhythm of faith even feels insignificant. But it is in the consistent exercise of that faith that we realize we’re growing little by little every day. And even when that challenge comes, it has been the steady, faithful, routine exercise of time that in the moment felt insignificant, but as our faith has grown, we have the confidence and courage to step into the fire.
So, even those things that we know are good, but in the season, they may seem insignificant, they have value. Or maybe it’s even more tangible. For example, you may feel that this small gesture of kindness that you showed to someone in your family or your neighbor or your co-worker seems insignificant in the moment, but for them, it may have made their day, that kind word or that encouraging text or that phone call that says, “You’ve been on my mind today.”
That simple gesture of kindness may go miles for them, and for us it seems insignificant. But in the moment, we’re just simply listening to the Lord. See, Andrew saw the value of the individual, and he had the courage to seek out his family member, which was difficult. For Andrew, he saw the value of the insignificant. It was just a small boy’s lunch, and we see what Jesus did with it. This miracle that has been known all throughout the ages.
All the while, Andrew just seems content to stay in the background. He’s one of the followers of Jesus that we know so little about. He was so willing to play second fiddle, to stay second best. In fact, his name only appears in the New Testament nine times. And of those, four of them are where all 12 of the disciples’ names were listed. So he’s not this rock star disciple, but he consistently saw the individual, and he saw the insignificant. As far as we know, Andrew never preached to a multitude. He never wrote an epistle that’s part of our Scripture. He isn’t even mentioned in the book of Acts. But he saw the value of the individual. He saw the value of the insignificant. He was blessing. He was used by God.
So what does this mean? When I see the life of Andrew, I see a follower of Jesus who was in the moment present and intentional in what he did. I think there’s so much that you and I could learn from that. How could we be in the moment and present today? How could we be in the moment and present this week? He was intentional. He was intentional with his brother and intentional to not look at what couldn’t be. Instead, he looked and saw even something that seemed insignificant and small and asked, “What can we do with this?”
What about you this week? How can you be present and in the moment? And how can you be intentional with your family and with your time, even in the things that feel routine and insignificant?
I think this is the value of the story, and I’ve seen this displayed in my next door neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus (and he’s not afraid to tell you). But, I can say over the years that we’ve been neighbors, he’s much more willing to have a conversation about Jesus now than he used to, because it’s been a slow, steady grind with him of love, of kindness, of just being a good neighbor, but bringing up God, talking about Jesus, talking about his faith, talking about his story.
He still doesn’t know Jesus, but we’re moving down the line of making a disciple. Let me explain to you how this works. Use your imagination to draw a picture with me. We’re going to pretend for the moment that there is a line drawn from one side of a stage all the way across to the other side. Let’s imagine this line as a line graph.
Right in the middle is the cross of Jesus Christ, the moment in time when a person makes this great exchange and steps into a relationship with Jesus. This is the moment we celebrate and the moment of life change. This is the moment when, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, and now the new has come.”
Imagine the negative side of the graph. -negative one to negative five. Let’s say that negative five represents the person who is a complete atheist. “I don’t want anything to do with God. I don’t even believe He exists.” Perhaps a negative three is the person who may have grown up believing there is no God, but now sees this is something to at least explore. “I’m willing to at least have a conversation with you about that. I’m at least willing to listen. Maybe there is some truth to that because there are some really nice people over there.” This is my next door neighbor right now.
Let’s skip a couple to negative one. This may even be you. Perhaps your wife has dragged you to church for years, but you know this isn’t for you. You’re just doing it to keep the home fires burning, so to speak. And you’ll come to church every now and then. -maybe even slip a 20 in the offering plate, because it makes you feel good inside. You know you have not done this exchange with Jesus yet, but, “I’m here. I’m not as bad as that guy.” You play that card. “I’m not yet ready to step into this relationship and grasp of the Gospel.”
We next get to the point where a person has fully embraced the Gospel. “I have repented. I believe; I know who Jesus is, and He is the King of my life.” Now, on the right side of the line, at plus one, I’m baptized, and I make the world know who Jesus is. “He is the Lord of my life, and I’m going to proclaim it to the world. But, I still got a lot of growing to do.” At plus two, maybe I learned how to study the word of God. Plus three, I start to serve and find out my spiritual gifts. Plus four, I maybe start teaching a LifeGroup class. At plus five, I’m growing in my faith, and now they want to take that plus one and teach him how to study the Word.
In our Calvary language, in the negatives is the idea of Reach. In the middle is the idea of Building. It is this cycle of disciple making that we push people through. Does this make sense?
What does this have to do with anything? When we see the value of the individual in love and in relationship, I’m able to see where they are on the line. Because I know you and I love you, I’m going to treat somebody who’s a negative three differently from how I treat somebody who is a plus one. There is a different level of accountability in the pluses, where there is a strong level of grace and mercy in the negatives.
And here is the beauty of this challenge, this mandate of making disciples: It’s really getting an idea of the definition of success. Disciple making success is moving anybody down this line any further. This is the beauty of when Paul writes, “Hey, listen. Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” Paul may have helped this person go from negative three to a negative one and Apollos came in and swept in the deal and got him to this point of salvation. But neither of them did it; this was the Spirit of God moving through all of this.
And the beauty of understanding this process of disciple making, of how we Reach, how we Build, and how we Send is all about all of us being captivated by the full story of the Gospel and understanding this: From the creation of the world, it was God’s design to help that person over there have a relationship with Him, to grow and walk in that relationship with Him, and to make His name known so that others hear and can walk this pathway of discipleship.
God created us to be in relationship, but in order for someone to move from the negative side of the line to the positive side of the line, they have got this huge sin barrier. I can’t cross from here to there by my own means. It is only by the blood of Jesus that I can be made right with God. It is only by the gift of His grace that I could have a relationship with Him because sin that started in the Garden of Eden and from that day forward has separated man from God cannot be removed by good works, and all of us deserve the full wrath and judgment of God.
But God, who was rich in mercy, abounding and grace, sent His son to die for us so that we can pass from death to life. That is the hope of the Gospel that we are proclaiming. That is the good news. It was the death of Jesus that provided hope for us to live free from sin, with purpose and with an eternal future, and God has called us now to walk this path full of confidence, full of hope and in abundant life. That is His desire for us.
We see the beauty of this. You have seen this play out in your life and for us to help others live this out in their life, we must see the value of the individual, praying for that person by name, understanding where they are and walking them through the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus. And I also have to see the value of the insignificant.
- Today, I choose to follow Jesus.
- This week, I will commit to be intentional in sharing the Gospel.
- This season, our family will commit to have daily Bible studies to focus on the Gospel.
- Read John 1:35-40. Andrew was quick to leave John the Baptist and begin following Jesus. Share with others the moment when you chose to follow Jesus and the difference that decision has made in your life.
- Read John 1:41-42. Andrew was focused on sharing Jesus with his family. Why is it difficult to proclaim the Gospel to our family? Spend time together praying for your family members by name who need Jesus.
- The most effective evangelism takes place on a personal and individual level. Who are you committed to sharing Jesus with this week? Share with one another how you can keep each other accountable to have intentional Gospel conversations this week.