So far in this series I’ve discussed the three disciples that were Jesus’ inner circle as well as the other James that was a disciple. Today I would like to focus on two other disciples, Andrew & Bartholomew.
Andrew is, I believe, one of the most intriguing disciples. There is actually very little known about him. We know he was the brother of Peter and was also an original disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew was also the very first one to follow Jesus.
John 1:40-42 – Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
I love those verses!
Since we don’t know much about Andrew outside of bring Peter to meet Jesus, I always think that was Andrew’s sole role. Peter went on to much greater things inside the community. He was second in command, next to Jesus.
Andrew was in the background.
Peter was part of Jesus’ inner circle.
Without Andrew, Peter may not have had the life trajectory that he did. It is because of Andrew’s invitation that Peter went on to lead in the first community of believers.
Andrew was used to bring others to know Jesus.
There is one other instance in which Andrew is used:
John 12:20-21 – Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”
This is one of the first instances when Gentiles were introduced to Christ.
I think of Andrew and my very own life as I write this. Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and then all the things we worry about will be given to us. With all the transition that has been happening to me and my family, I just need to remember to seek first the kingdom of God. God will provide the rest. If there is one thing I want my family (and myself) to know as I write this through the transition it is that in His kingdom all is made fresh and contentment follows as long we seek Him first.
It was that same attitude, during a significant transition in Andrew’s life (changing from following John the Baptist to following Jesus) that kept Andrew from getting jealous or overwhelmed or sarcastic or have any other negative attitude. Focusing on Jesus and His mission is what kept Andrew content.
Andrew’s sole job was to lead people to Christ so that Jesus could bring out their calling.
What a job to have in the kingdom!
I always think of something someone told me in seminary, “what if God chose you to lead the person to Him who would go one to lead the largest revival in human history, would you be jealous or content?”
Andrew was clearly content knowing he wasn’t in charge. He knew his role and he performed it well.
Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross when the Roman leader was angry that his wife converted to Christianity because of Andrew’s evangelizing.
Nathanael (or Bartholomew):
Nathanael was also known as Bartholomew. The Hebrew name is actually Bar-Tolmai, which means the “son of Tolmai.” This could be a reference to 2 Samuel 3:3, which means that he would have been from nobility.
It was another disciple, Philip, who brought Bartholomew to meet Jesus. We don’t know for certain, so they are either very good friends or they could even be related.
Much of what we know about Bartholomew comes from his call by Jesus.
John 1:45-49 – Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Interestingly, in verse 45 it would seem that both Philip and Bartholomew were students of the Law and recognized Jesus as the Messiah because of the Law. And like most Jews from that day, they believed that Nazareth was a wicked place and couldn’t believe that anything good, much less the Messiah, could come from there.
In verse 47, Jesus gives us an idea of Bartholomew’s character. Jesus says that he “truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
Bartholomew was an honest man.
The other cool thing about this is that we get an understanding of Jesus’ omniscience. When Bartholomew asked Jesus how He knew him, Jesus replied, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Jesus was not present at that conversation.
Tradition holds that Bartholomew was a missionary to Persia and India. There is no biblical evidence of his martyrdom, but tradition holds that he was martyred. How he was martyred is up for debate as some scholars say he was tied in a sack and dropped into the ocean and others say he was crucified.
After studying through half of the disciples, it is easy to see how focused and relational Jesus was with those He loves.