We know far less about Andrew than Peter, James and John, although he is often listed along with these three in the gospels. Andrew and Peter were brothers, as were James and John, working in the same fishing village in Galilee when they are called to be followers of Jesus. But all four seem to have been looking for the coming of the Messiah, as we see from reading John 1.
When John the Baptist was still baptizing in the Jordan, Andrew is following him. They encounter the Lord and John the Baptist announce that Jesus is the Messiah. In John’s gospel, this is the third day, usually significant in the Bible! The witness of John starts a “chain reaction” as Jesus is followed by Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist (1:35-39).
John declares that Jesus is the lamb of God, this time some of his disciples begin to follow Jesus, in effect transferring from John’s ministry to Jesus’. Andrew is one of the disciples simply mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels. In John he figures significantly in several stories. In each story, he is described as bringing someone or something to Jesus. This other disciple may be the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in the second half of the gospel. Andrew declares that Jesus is a teacher and Messiah, and bring Simon, Cephas (Peter) to Jesus.
The next day (the fourth over all), Andrew invites his brother Simon to follow Jesus (John 1:40-42). Andrew confesses to Simon that they have found the Messiah. This is a unique occurrence of the word Messiah rather than the common Greek translation, “Christ.” It is significant that Peter’s brother makes this confession early on, later Peter will make the same statement in 6:68, although he uses the title, “holy one of God,” something of a higher Christological statement than Andrew. Andrew is therefore the first disciple to actually call Jesus the Messiah in John’s gospel, although we are not at all sure to what extent he understood the term.
The second time Andrew appears in the story of John’s gospel is at the Feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-14). John contrasts two disciples, Phil and Andrew. Philip, we are told, was tested and his response is a bit flat. Perhaps Andrew too was tested, although I wonder if his response is a great deal better. Obviously he sees the same problem as Philip, it is going to be impossible to feed all of these people. But rather than state the impossibility of the situation, he begins to find a solution. He made a start at the impossible task, even though it looks a bit weak to the other disciples.
Jesus honors Andrew’s offering, weak as it was, and uses the five loaves and two fish to not only do a great miracle, but also to demonstrate something very important about himself – he is the bread of Life, just as Israel had manna in the wilderness, so too Jesus gives food in the wilderness. This is an extremely important connection, given that this is around the time of Passover.
Andrew therefore did the right thing, although it seemed fairly insignificant at the time.