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Group of menStrange how the Apostles as people - their lives, characters and families - have almost disappeared from history. We know very little about them and what we do know is often based on conjecture and legend. Most did not leave any written account that can confidently be directly attributed to them. They were uneducated and ordinary men.

They seem to have taken very literally the comment by John the Baptist about his own relationship to Jesus: John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease”.

Perhaps they were also following the example of the Lord, whose only recorded act of writing was in the dust, and the content not known.

Men with fishing boatAndrew was the first disciple. He was the brother of Simon who was named Peter by Jesus. Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist. The account is in John 1: 35-42. When John the Baptist told Andrew that Jesus was the Lamb of God, Andrew found Simon and told him “We have found the Messiah’.

 Andrew and Simon Peter were from Bethsaida. They had a fishing business. They were business partners with James and John, Zebedee’s sons. Jesus also appointed James and John apostles. It has never struck me before how many of the first twelve were already part of a tight knit family and business community. Philip also came from Bethsaida.

Two men talkingThe story of the calling of Andrew is in all the gospels but written from slightly different perspectives and chronology. I found it interesting to read all the accounts in one sitting. I tended to think that Jesus just turned up out of nowhere, commandeered Andrew and Simon Peter’s boat and then told them to leave everything and follow him. It seems though that Andrew and his brother were already seeking something, the Messiah, as they then understood the idea. Their hearts were already restless. And that there were meetings before the callings. Andrew visited Jesus and spent several hours with him when they first met.

Breaking breadJohn 6:8-9 records that it was Andrew who presented the boy with five loaves and two fish to Jesus. The account is in all the gospels. Jesus took them, gave thanks, blessed them, broke them and gave them to the disciples to distribute amongst the crowd of five thousand.

After the resurrection it seems that the twelve took Jesus’ command to ‘go out and make disciples of all nations’ – Matthew 28: 19 & Mark13:10 - literally and travelled as far as they could in order to preach the good news. Andrew is believed to have travelled to Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Hungary, Russia and Poland.

Scottish thistleMy researches usually start with Google. Usually what comes up first are the Roman Catholic and Orthodox saint’s sites. I usually link to those. With Andrew it was wiki, lots of places named after him, especially golfing places, the BBC religious site and of course, the Scottish tourist industry sites as he is patron saint of Scotland. Lots of stuff about things associated with Andrew but little about the man himself.

Here is a nice account of St Andrew and things associated with him by Woodlands Junior School in Kent

He is patron saint of Greece and Russia as well as Scotland. He is considered the founder and first bishop of the Church of Byzantium. His emblem is the ‘saltire’ or X shaped cross. Legend has it that both he and Peter were crucified but requested the X shaped cross as they were not worthy to die on the upright cross of the Lord. Andrew was tied with ropes and took three days to die during which time he preached the gospel.

There are many complicated stories as to how his relics ended up in various places and Scotland in particular.

White cross against blue skyThe reason he became patron saint of Scotland is that in either the eighth or ninth century AD the Pictish King Angus mac Fergus was about to do battle with King Athelstane of Northumbria. Saint Andrew appeared to Angus in a dream and promised victory. During the battle, a saltire cross was seen in the sky. Angus declared the cross of Andrew to be the badge of the Picts. Echoes here of the Roman Emperor Constantine and his famous vision of the Chi Ro – X P – before his victory. Resulting in Christianity becoming the state religion of the Roman Empire.

Both the Greek flag and the Scottish flag are white on a blue background. Only the Scottish flag is the saltire cross.

young man thinkingThere is an apocryphal ‘Acts of Andrew’. Recording so many fantastical supernatural events and miracles initiated by Andrew that one commentator said, drily, that they made the miracles of Jesus seem mundane by comparison.

It seems to have been widely viewed as fanciful with little historical credibility from the start. Eusebius of Caesarea (339) dismissed it as heretical and absurd.

Even Gregory of Tours (594), who was a fan of this sort of thing, described it as ‘verbose’ and made a condensed version of the highlights.

Some of them don’t sound much like the sort of thing Jesus would do. But that’s just my opinion. Example - Andrew causes an embryo which was illegitimate to die. I wonder what Mary would have thought of that!

On the Mount of Olives just before his death, Jesus told Peter, James, John and Andrew that they would face persecution and hatred Mark 13: 9-12. “And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations.”

Christianity is a faith marked by paradox. Jesus is the good news. He bears our burdens and gives us rest for our souls. Matthew 11:28-30. Came that we may have abundant life John 10:10 Gives us his peace. But he does not give as the world gives. John14:27. He promises his closest friends and followers pain and persecution. See what he says to Ananias about Paul.

James and John wanted places of honour in Jesus’ new kingdom. “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Matthew 20:20-28

Young man drinking from a cup

And Andrew did.


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