Bringing Loved Ones to Jesus

William C. Brownson Uncategorized

READ : John 1:40-42

One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

John 1:40-42 rsv

Recently my wife Helen and I were involved in a Sunday night Bible study with some of our closest friends. We usually conclude those meetings with a time of prayer for things especially of concern to us. On this particular night, several mentioned loved ones who are not believers. We spoke both of how much these persons mean to us and of how difficult it is to reach them with the good news. Do you know what we decided to do? We drew up a list of these persons. We called them “hard cases.” And we committed ourselves to pray for them that they would come to know the Lord. We’re excited about that prospect, expectant, wondering which of these will be the first to come to Christ. All of us were intent on this one thing: bringing loved ones to Jesus.

Maybe you feel like that today. Someone close to you needs to know the Lord, but seems like an impossible case. If only the Lord could become as real to them as He is to you! If only you could share with them what you have found!

But I think of another possibility. You, listening to me right now, could be one of those hard cases yourself! Maybe you’re not a believer yet. Maybe you have loved ones who are praying for you, trying to do what they can to lead you to the Savior. Well, whoever you are and however you fit into that picture, I think you’ll find yourself and hear a message meant for you in the words I’m going to read now. They’re from the Gospel according to John, chapter 1, beginning at verse 40. They tell us about a man named Andrew. Listen.

One of the two who heard John speak [that is, John the Baptist], and followed him [that is, followed Jesus], was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him [Simon], and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

WHO WAS ANDREW?

All right. To start with, who was this man Andrew? Andrew had started out being a follower of John the Baptist, deeply impressed by his prophetic ministry. Then, when John began to speak about Jesus, calling Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Andrew became interested in learning more. He and his friend decided to discover all they could about Jesus. As they were walking behind Him, the Lord said, “What are you seeking?” They said, “Rabbi, where do you live?” He replied, “Come and see.” They went along with Him, saw where He was staying, and spent time with Him. It wasn’t long before Jesus had won their hearts. So when we meet Andrew in this passage of Scripture, he’s a brand new convert. He has just begun to follow the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now listen to the way in which he is described. John calls him “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” I wonder how Andrew would have felt about that. Maybe you at some time in your life have been described in a similar way. Someone spoke of you habitually as “so and so’s son or daughter.” Or, “She’s the kid sister of that beautiful young lady.” Or, “He’s the brother of that outstanding athlete.” Or some teacher in school always compared you to someone else in your family. That can be irritating, can’t it? You’d like to be seen as a person in your own right, not always in someone else’s shadow. You are special yourself, not just someone else’s relative.

When these things first happened, of course, no one knew much about Simon, either. But by the time John wrote this gospel, Simon Peter had become well known as a leader and spokesman among the disciples. He was by far the most prominent and outspoken of the Twelve. Who was Andrew? His chief claim to fame was apparently in his relationship to that well-known brother.

If I were writing about Andrew now, I would add something else to that description. You know how John was called “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We call Thomas “the doubter,” and James and John “the sons of thunder.” I’d call Andrew “the disciple who brought people to Jesus.” Every time we read about him in the gospels, that’s what he’s doing. One day he led a little boy to Jesus. The lad offered his lunch to use as food for the multitude. On another occasion, Andrew brought some Gentile seekers to meet the Master. But what we remember him for most was that he brought his brother Simon into the fold.

HIS METHOD

How did he go about that? The gospel writer tells us that after the day when Andrew had met Jesus and stayed with Him (probably overnight), he “first found his brother Simon.” The very first thing Andrew did, in other words, after he became a believer, was to go looking for his brother.

If you’re a Christian, think about that experience. When the Lord first became real to you, when you first were assured that Jesus was your Savior, what did you do next? I’ve been asking myself that question. When I received Jesus as my Savior one summer evening during high school, I went home and woke up my Mom and Dad to tell them what had happened. I didn’t plan that in advance. It just happened that way. They were the first persons I saw after the gospel had dawned on my life. But I suppose I would have made a point of telling them pretty soon even if I had been a long distance away, because they, along with my sister, were at that time the most important persons in my life. When something wonderful happens to you, you have an urge to tell someone, and the people you think of first, of course, are the ones you love most. You can’t wait to let them know so that they can celebrate with you.

That’s the way it was with Andrew. Without wasting any time, he set out to find his brother. The first thing he said to Simon was, “We have found the Messiah.” Maybe you remember someone using the word eureka, which means “I have found it!” That exclamation was supposed to have been made first by the Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes, after he discovered a method for determining the purity of gold. “Eureka!” he shouted. That’s the verb form here. It expresses joy and triumph about a discovery. “We have found the Messiah!” Andrew had been a seeker. He had been moved by the ministry of John the Baptist, called to repentance. He had heard John describe himself as someone preparing the way of the Lord. Like every other devout Israelite, Andrew had been looking for the kingdom of God, waiting for the Messiah. There was a great hunger in his life to find God’s appointed Savior. Now, in Jesus, he had found what he was looking for and promptly told his brother about it.

Next he brought Simon to Jesus. He led him to the Lord. Andrew wasn’t content just to tell Simon something and then go his way. He didn’t simply give his testimony and leave it at that. He invited Simon to come with him to meet Jesus. It wasn’t, “Take my word for it,” or even “Go find Him yourself,” but rather, “Come along with me. Come with me to Jesus Christ.”

A well-known believer from India, D. T. Niles, once defined evangelism as “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” I like that for the way it puts us all in the same category as people who desperately need the bread of life. But I’d like it better if it was “showing” another beggar where to find bread, or even “bringing” him or her where the bread can be found. That’s how Andrew did it. He became the living link between his brother and the Lord. He brought him to Jesus.

A NEW NAME

What happened then? Listen again, “Jesus looked at him, and said, `So you are Simon, the son of John? You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter).'” Jesus looked at Simon. That was something both brothers long remembered from this incident. When Andrew brought Simon to introduce him to Jesus, the Lord fixed His gaze on the young fisherman. He saw not only what he was, but what he one day would become.

Have you ever thought of how the gospel writers and all Christian preachers are trying to tell us that about Jesus? “He’s got His eye on you. He knows all about you. He’s interested in you. And He knows what His grace can do in you – the person you by His power can become.” Think about that, friends. The Lord is looking at you, and it’s not with curiosity or contempt or disapproval. He’s not looking down on you. He’s seeing in you the person you are meant to be.

“So you’re Simon, are you?” Those were Jesus’ first words. “That’s the name your parents gave you. That’s the person you have been, up until now. And just as you are, you are accepted.” Anyone who comes to Jesus with an open, trusting heart, is marvelously welcomed.

But there’s more. “You shall be called Cephas.” Cephas is an Aramaic word from Jesus’ native language. In Greek, it means “petros” or our name Peter. In English, Cephas and Petros both mean “rock.” Jesus was giving to His fledgling follower a new name.

The giving of a name always expresses the authority of the giver. Parents have the authority to name their children. Sometimes believing parents do it in response to a heavenly instruction. Then an even higher authority is giving the name. Authority is required because a name has such profound significance.

In the Bible, names are not simply titles. They say something vital about the people who bear them. The name of God, for example, is a vivid expression of who He is. God and His name are almost identified. His name is the revelation of His person. Human names have something of that about them, too. They describe the circumstances of the bearer’s birth or, more significantly, some trait of character. The name tells what the individual is like, who the person is. It’s the parents who can give the name to the child because it is their child. Theirs is the love that best knows the son or daughter.

When God gives names to His children, the names describe not only what they are now but also what they can become. Becoming a follower of Jesus represented a new chapter in Simon’s life. Corresponding to that fresh beginning was a new name. It expressed the new nature that Jesus would give to His servant. By divine pronouncement, Simon is now the rock-man, the Rock.

It would take time for him to grow into this name, to live up to it. But it was his from the start. This came before the great confession, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16) and before Jesus said to Peter, “On this rock I will build my church” (v. 18). It came long before Peter’s pledge to follow Jesus even to the death, before his trying to turn Jesus aside from the way of the cross, before his denial and his restoration. At his naming there were many struggles and failures, sins and wanderings out ahead. But there was never a doubt that Simon Peter would realize his destiny, that he would become God’s man, the rock.

That’s what happens, friends, when people are brought to Jesus. He looks upon them, accepts them, and gives them a future. He enables them to become persons they never otherwise could be. He renames them and stays with them until they become new persons in Him.

Is it any wonder that Christians long to bring their loved ones to this Jesus? They want those closest to them to share what they have found. They want them to experience the Lord’s acceptance and His transforming power. They covet for their dear ones a new name, a new nature, a new life.

If you are one of the believers who feels that way, remember Andrew. Make it a high priority in your life to find that family member of yours, to renew contact with him or her. Share with them, simply and earnestly, what you have found in Christ. Then by invitation, by patient love, by unceasing prayer, seek to bring them into the Lord’s presence.

But if you today should be one of those who hasn’t yet found Christ or has drifted away, if you should be one of the hard cases, listen to the welcome of those who care about you. They are messengers of the Lord’s concern. They speak for the One who loved you enough to come to earth on your behalf, to share your life, to bear your sins, to die in your place. He’s the One who, through them, invites you to come to Him. I hope you’ll be one of those who, like Peter, will go along to meet the Lord. Never doubt it: He will give you a future and a hope, a new identity, a new name.