Summary: God uses even the "quiet" types to introduce people to Jesus. (Adapted from WELS 2006 Mission Fest Sermon)
On May 30th, 2004, terrorists in Iraq kidnapped a Korean named Kim Sun Il. Kim had been working for a year with a South Korean firm that supplied goods to the U.S. Army, an opportunity he used as a means of gaining entrance into the country so that he could do what he really had come to do: serve as a quiet Christian missionary to Iraq. On June 22nd, Kim’s beheaded body was recovered outside of Baghdad.
Has it occurred to anyone here to do what Kim did – to serve as a missionary in a war zone, or do we get nervous just thinking about telling a friend about Jesus? According to a 2004 survey, only half of North American Christians said they talked to someone about Jesus that year (Barna, Feb. 2004 survey). In an effort to remind Christians of their privilege to tell others about Jesus, some churches have posted a sign at their parking lot exit which says, “You are now entering the mission field.” It’s a reminder that everyone, not just the pastor or the evangelism committee, is a missionary. Today we’re going to learn how God used an unlikely individual to be a missionary illustrating the truth that, indeed, every member of every congregation, including ours, is a missionary for Jesus.
The unlikely missionary we’re going to learn about is Andrew. Andrew seemed to be the strong (his name means “manly”) but quiet type. He originally worked as a fisherman but somewhere along the line learned about John the Baptist and went to hear him preach. Through John’s message the Holy Spirit worked faith in Andrew’s heart and Andrew became a disciple of John. It wasn’t John’s intent, however, that Andrew should follow him. John was there to point people to the Messiah. And so when Jesus passed by one day, John pointed and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) You see that’s how it works. Jesus is manifested to people, through people. You and I became aware of Jesus’ presence when someone pointed him out and proclaimed Jesus to be the one who takes away our sin.
The day after John pointed out Jesus, Andrew followed him. You would expect Jesus to be happy to gain a disciple but he turned and asked Andrew: “What do you want?” (John 1:38) That’s a question Jesus asks each of us this morning. What do we want with Jesus? Do we want him to fix our life? Do we want him to make us feel better? Do we want him to make us financially secure? Do we want him to make all our enemies suffer? Do we want him to make us popular? While Jesus can certainly do all these things it’s not the reason he came. He came as the Lamb of God to sacrifice his life for ours. He came to deal with our problem of sin and open the door to heaven. So no, life might not get any better for us here and now, in fact it might get even worse, but we won’t be disappointed with that when we remember that we follow Jesus because we’re looking for a better life, a perfect life without end in the world to come.
If Andrew was startled by Jesus’ initial question of what he wanted, he quickly got over it when Jesus invited him to spend the day. Boy, what a Saviour! There were a million of other things Jesus could have been doing but he took time to be with Andrew, to answer his questions, to show how all the Old Testament promises spoke about him.
Jesus wants to spend time with us too. Through his Word he wants to show what he did for us and point out what he has in store for us. He wants this visit to last a lifetime so that it will be a relationship that stretches into eternity. Unfortunately though don’t we often treat Jesus like a distant uncle? We’ll pop in on him from time to time but only because it’s expected of us. And when we do visit our mind wanders as we think about all the other things we could be doing with our time. Friends, Jesus is not our uncle; he’s our brother who sacrificed his life on the battlefield to win the war against sin, death, and the devil. He’s the brother who was promoted over all things for his heroics and wants to share the benefits of that promotion with us. Why would we not want to spend time with him?
Andrew enjoyed spending time with Jesus but realized that he could not keep this benefit to himself. And so Andrew shared the good news about Jesus with his brother Peter (John 1:41, 42). Isn’t it interesting that it wasn’t to Peter, the never-at-a-loss-for-words, the soon-to-be-leader-of-the-disciples that Jesus first appeared? Peter learned about Jesus from his quiet brother Andrew. And so we learn something important about mission work. Every Christian, no matter what your personality, is a missionary for Jesus. Being an “Andrew,” an individual who doesn’t consider himself or herself to be well-spoken, well-read, or one of the prominent members of the congregation, does not excuse you from the responsibility, no, the privilege of being a missionary for Jesus. Being a missionary doesn’t mean always having the right words. It means having a love for Jesus and a love for people who don’t know about Jesus. It means being able to make an introduction. That was Andrew’s outreach tactic. Andrew not only introduced his brother to Jesus he also introduced the boy who had the five loaves of bread and two fish so that Jesus could work the tremendous miracle of feeding over five thousand people (John 6). It was also Andrew, together with Philip, who brought forward a request from some Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus (John 12).