Andrew: The Friendliest Disciple

My name is John. From my home in Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, I began the walk to Capernaum, a distance of ten miles. My father had asked me to deliver a payment to the collector of customs whose office was in this town.

An hour had passed when I stopped at the well in Gennesaret. A young man about my age had also stopped for a drink.

"Shalom."

"Shalom."

"Do I take the right fork ahead for Capernaum?"

"Yes. Thatís where Iím going. Would you like to walk with me?"

"Sure." Then I extended my hand and introduced myself, "Iím John from Tiberias."

Likewise, he extended his, "And Iím Andrew."

We walked together for several miles in our comfortable solitude, then Andrew broke the silence. "John, forgive me for not visiting with you more, but my heart is heavy."

"What happened?"

"Do you really have the time to hear?"

"Sure go ahead."

"Well, it began three years ago as my brother, Peter, and I were mending our fishing nets. A man named Jesus stopped to talk. He had such a winsome demeanor that we both said Ďyesí to his request to be his disciples."

"Did this mean you no longer fished?"

"No, fishing is our livelihood, but we have fished less because we wanted to spend as much time as possible with Jesus." Now Andrew raised his arm to point, "The larger house just ahead is where Peter lives. He moved there from Bethsaida. The house is large enough for his family and his wifeís mother. I live alone in the small house next door. Since it is nearing supper time, would you like to come in and join me?"

"Oh, Iíd like that very much."

When we arrived at the doorway, Andrew pushed aside a sheepskin drape. The thick adobe walls held the temperature of the cool night throughout the day. As Andrew prepared our meal of dried fish, figs, bread, and wine, I noticed that he was shorter than I, but more muscular with powerful, calloused hands. Even though our acquaintance had begun only a few hours earlier, I already felt we were good friends.

Andrew motioned as he spoke, "John, you may sit on this mat."

Then he broke a loaf of bread in half and handed me one half of the loaf along with a cup of wine. There was something about sharing a meal that put us both at ease.

"Andrew, tell me more about your friend Jesus."

"He spent much of his time healing and teaching the people, but He spent even more of his time teaching his twelve disciples. He must have wondered if we would ever learn."

"What makes you say that?"

"Jesus told us He would have to die and that He would rise from the dead on the third day. But we just didn't get it."

"So he did die?"

"Yes, the week before last."

"You must be really sad."

"John, itís hard to explain, but He told us if we had faith in Him that we would make it through the difficult times. This is one of those times."

Outside it was getting harder and harder to distinguish the outline of trees from the back drop of the sea. Inside Andrew lit an olive-oil lamp so we could continue to see. The shadow of his frame leaned forward as he continued. "Jesus had the power to heal the sick. Those healed told others, so every day people came from all around to be healed."

"How did he heal?"

"Sometimes He just spoke. At other times He required them to do something. For one blind man, He spit in the dust and placed the mud on the manís eyes."

"Was he able to see?"

"At first people were as trees walking, but then he could see clearly. Another thing, you should have heard Him teaching in the synagogues. One time He told the Pharisees how they had missed the whole point of Godís instructions."

"I bet they were a little upset."

"A little upset? It wasnít long after that that they decided to kill him!"

"I can see you are a man of faith to have weathered the death of your friend so well."

"John, would you like to go fishing with Peter and me tonight? We had planned to head out around midnight."

"Will you have room for me?"

"Sure, some can fish from Peter and my boat and the others from James and John's. Why donít you lay down on this mat and get in a few hours of sleep."

So I rolled out the mat then laid down on my back, staring at the shadows made by the moon shining through the open doorway. Soon I was sleeping.

It seemed like only moments had passed when I was awakened by a loud, jovial voice, "All good fishermen arise!"

A more familiar voice, that of Andrew, said, "Peter, this is my friend John. He would like to fish with us."

"Welcome aboard, John. You can take the place of the scoundrel that betrayed our Lord. Luckily for him he took his own life, for had he not, I might have."

"Peter, remember, Jesus taught us to forgive, even Judas."

"Yes, true, still I am mighty angry about it all."

And with that, we gathered up our gear, and the three of us walked briskly toward the sea.

At the lakeshore, Peter, Thomas, Andrew, and I boarded one boat, and James, John, Nathanael, and another disciple pushed off in the other. The disciples had good reason to be sad. I wondered if Peter had decided they should go fishing to get their minds off of their troubles. He definitely was the leader.

Peter stood in the front of the boat looking back at the shoreline to his left and to his right followed by a heavenward glance at Polaris. He seemed to be using landmarks to locate the spot on the open water where they had found fish before. After a while he called out to James and John, "Letís try it here."

Immediately the nets were lowered, and the men took up their oars. Most were stripped to the waist even though the night air was cold. The rowing and pulling in of the net flowed smoothly. When we found no fish in the net, we let it down again, and the sequence was patiently repeated.

Eventually, Andrew handed me the net, and since I had watched every move he had made, I was a ready hand. After several hours, I was cold, tired, and hungry. I could not recall having done such strenuous work in a long time. We were all getting discouraged when our nets kept coming up empty. Peter was ready to quit, but Andrew convinced him to try a few more times.

Then at the first sign of dawn, Peter yelled across to James and John, "Letís take her in boys!"

As we approached land, we could see smoke curling straight up from a camp fire on the shore about a quarter of a mile away. Beside the fire was the figure of a man.

As we closed the distance, the man on the shore called out, "Did you catch any fish?"

Peter spoke for all of us, "Nothing for this night's effort."

Then came back the response, "Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get plenty of them."

We all looked at each other, then Thomas stated the question we were all asking, "Why throw the net here? You can't catch fish in the shallows."

Then Andrew, without a word, threw the net over the right-hand side of the boat. Soon it was overflowing with fish, and we all strained to pull the net into the boat, but we were not able. John, now recognizing the man, said, "Peter, it is our Lord."

Without another thought, Peter wrapped his outer garment around his waist and threw himself into the sea. I turned to Andrew to say, "Peter certainly has a rambunctious love for Jesus."

The rest of us came in the boat dragging the net full of fish. By now, even Thomas was convinced that the man was Jesus. When we reached the shore, Peter helped us draw the net to land. I could see some fish on a fire of coals. Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish you have caught."

Immediately Peter spoke directly to each disciple assigning tasks for preparation of the fish. While Thomas was emptying the net, he counted one hundred and fifty-three fish and remarked with amazement that he could not even find one tear in the net. It wasnít long before the fish had been cooked over the fire.

Jesus turned to us and said, "Come and have breakfast."

Jesus, carrying bread, hot fish, and wine walked towards me. His servant attitude made me think of him as a friend rather than a Messiah.

Then he read my thoughts, saying, "John, I know you must be famished after a night of fishing. Take this bread and fish and wine to nourish your body."

I shall never forget those eyes that looked into mine with such a caring spirit. As I accepted the food, I noticed that in the center of each of his calloused hands was a recent wound. It was almost as if each had been pierced by a large nail.

Then Jesus served Andrew, and moved on to another. As Jesus turned away, I leaned toward Andrew and said, "You told me Jesus was the Messiah. Why would a Messiah serve me?"

"More than a Messiah, He is a servant. That is the way He leads. He said for us to learn from his example."

The sun was fully up now, and my father would be wondering what had happened to me, so I turned to Andrew and said, "I must be going now. Thank you so much for your hospitality. After I deliver a payment to customs, I will return to Tiberias and tell all my friends about Jesus the Messiah."

Based on John 21:1-14.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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