By Michael E. Brooks
“Then Jesus lifted up his eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ . . . Philip answered him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one of them may have a little.’ One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves, and two small fish, but what are they among so many?'” (John 6:5, 7-8).
During this semester the students of Khulna Bible College were challenged to a fun football (soccer) match with a group from one of the churches in Khulna. The students were excited about the prospects of a game and practiced with great enthusiasm for it. The week before the game, jerseys and a new ball were purchased and every effort was made to be ready.
It turned out that one of the KBC students plays soccer in his home area at the district level. He is experienced and quite talented. During the game he scored all 3 goals for KBC and they won the game.
As the faculty and staff watched and cheered for “our boys,” I could not help but appreciate this particular player’s athletic ability and skills. Even more than his own personal skills, however, I noticed that he helped the other players play beyond their normal abilities.
He not only was able to give them tips in practice and plan strategies for the team to use; he also, by his very presence on the team, instilled confidence and boosted morale.
When Jesus fed the multitude he first discussed the situation with two of his disciples. The first, Phillip, was a discourager. “We can’t do that” he said. “Think of the cost.”
On the other hand, Andrew said, “Here’s a little food, if you think it would be helpful.” It wasn’t even Andrew’s food. It belonged to a boy in the crowd.
I don’t think this is a case of Andrew taking food the boy wanted to keep for himself. Rather I believe it is an instance where he showed the boy a better way to use what he had. By surrendering his lunch to Jesus, he not only fed the multitude, he wound up with even more food for himself.
Andrew was one of those people who just naturally helped other people do better than they would have done on their own. He was an encourager and a facilitator.
We often hear coaches say that their favorite player is one who helps the other members of the team play better and harder. That was Andrew. He brought Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-42). He found the nucleus of the multitude’s dinner.
I don’t know if Andrew ever preached a sermon (he probably did; we just aren’t told about it), but at least partly because of him, Peter preached many wonderful sermons. He may have never cooked a meal, but five thousand men ate well because he took a little bread and fish to Jesus.
Some have natural abilities to speak, sing, or serve God in other ways and may stand out as leaders and bring many to faith. Others serve more in the background, as encouragers and helpers.
But how many millions are brought to salvation through their selfless efforts? They do not expect or want applause. They seek no reward but that which God offers. They merely want to be useful – to be helpful. Thanks to a gracious God for all the Andrews.