The First Disciple

Andrew

Above the Chancel

St Andrews, Nuthurst

John initially makes an oblique reference to Andrew as one of two disciples following John the Baptist. Later in the passage he is positively identified as Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, … one of the two who heard (John 1:35-42). The Baptist points Jesus out to Andrew and John, describing Him as the Lamb of God.

Andrew and John decide to follow Jesus as soon as they hear this. Jesus is aware of their presence and turns to speak to them asking, “What to you want?” They greet him as a Rabbi, or teacher, and are invited to go with Jesus to where he is staying.

After spending the day with Jesus, Andrew’s first thought is for his brother who he goes to tell “We have found the Messiah.” Andrew had traveled one hundred miles from Bethsaida to Bethany to follow the Baptist and it is clear that he now has no doubts about finding the Christ that he has been searching for. As the first disciple, he brings his brother to Jesus, showing us that he greatly wishes to share the news.

Subsequently, Andrew takes a back seat to his brother but remains one of Jesus’ closest disciples. Read more about this in my next blog.

Andrew’s next significant activity is in the well known story about the loaves & fish. When Jesus asks another disciple how to feed the great multitude, Andrew brings the boy with the food but does not know “what are these among so many?” (John 6:35-42). Jesus already has the answer.

As people gathered for the Passover Festival, some Greeks (who were Gentiles) had come to see Jesus. Andrew and another disciple spoke about them and went to see Him. Jesus again knew that, “the time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” He explained to them that “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 6:35-42).

After Jesus’ ascension, Andrew returns to Jerusalem and begins the work that the disciples had been selected to do, starting with prayer and supplication. (Acts 1:12-14). Andrew continued in his mission until his crucifixion in Patras, Greece some thirty years later.

I hope that, on this third walk, as you enjoy a time of reflection (maybe listening to the water babbling in the garden of the Black Horse) you will be looking forward to the next adventure.

16/06/2017  Leave a comment

12th Century Murals

In St John the Baptist’s Church, Clayton

Clayton Church

St John the Baptist, Clayton

The murals appear to represent the different outcomes which may await the parishioners on Judgement Day. This was common at the time, due to their lack of direct access to Scripture, and were an encouragement for them to repent of their sins. Something that could also be attributed to the preaching in the wilderness of John the Baptist.

John, the disciple, introduces us to John, the baptist, as the one who cries out “He who comes after me has surpassed me, for he was before me” (John 1:15). In the following verses he goes on to describe how John is questioned by the priests, the Levites and ultimately the Pharisees as to who he is and what he is doing. Initially, he replies by stating what he isn’t: so who was he?

An account of his conception is given in the Gospel of Luke and precedes an account of Jesus’ own conception (Luke 1:5-25). His barren mother Elizabeth and her father Zacharias, a priest, were both righteous before God but well advanced in years. An angel of the Lord visits Zacharias in the Temple and tells him that they will have a son and that he should be named John. He will be great and prepare a people prepared for the Lord. In the sixth month of her pregnancy they are visited by Elizabeth’s relative Mary, the mother of Jesus, (Luke 1:39-56) who stays with them for about three months.

When John is born Zacharias prophesies that he will be called a prophet of the Most High (Luke 1:57-80). He grows strong in spirit while in the desert.

John draws many followers and baptises them in the waters of the River Jordan. He speaks of the one “who comes after me, who is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I’m not worthy to loosen“. The Jews, under Roman rule, were waiting for a Messiah to come and rescue them and one day, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He comes to John to be baptised. John recognises Jesus when he sees the Spirit descend upon Him like a dove out of heaven.

Jesus is very clear as to John’s importance as he speaks to a crowd (Matthew 11:7-15) when he tells them, “Among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer.”

The story of John’s death is, perhaps, one of the better know events in the Bible (Mark 6:17-28). King Herod had imprisoned John for speaking out against the king’s marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias. She desired to kill John but was prevented by Herod’s fear of him as a holy man. Herodias’ daughter dances so well for the king on his birthday that he promised her anything she asked for. To please her mother she asked for John’s head and Herod could not refuse.

A contemporary account of John’s death can be found in the Antiquities of the Jews (book 18, chapter 5, 2) by Flavius Josephus

I hope that, on this second walk, as you enjoy another time of quiet reflection (maybe studying the murals in the church at Clayton) you will be encouraged to continue on this journey of discovery.”

08/02/2017  Leave a comment

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