The Calling of Andrew and Peter
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Mt 4:18-22)
St. Andrew was the older brother of Simon Peter and, in John’s Gospel, he was the first disciple called by Jesus. He was a disciple of John the Baptist until John said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God.” Andrew then made his decision to follow Jesus instead of John. Andrew went to his brother Peter and told them they have found the Messiah. In other accounts, such as the one above, Peter and Andrew are fishing together in the their boat when Jesus calls them both. Regardless of which account is more accurate, the Eastern Church hails Andrew as the first disciple called to follow Jesus, which is entirely possible.
Andrew followed Jesus throughout Jesus’ entire earthly ministry. As a follower of Jesus, he does not make too many appearances. Andrew told Jesus about the boy with loaves and fishes. Thus he demonstrated his faith in Jesus’ power over the temporal world. Philip wanted to speak to Jesus about the Greeks that were seeking him. He spoke first to Andrew, showing that Andrew held a closer relationship to Jesus than some of the other disciples. We also know that Andrew was present of the last supper, his resurrection, and for the ascension.
After the ascension of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit, Andrew went to preach in what is modern Greece and Turkey. Andrew died a martyr’s death by way of crucifixion. According to the tradition and in the Acts of Andrew, he asked to be crucified on an X-shaped cross. He told the soldiers he was unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus. When St. Andrew first caught sight of the cross, he exclaimed with joy. “O good cross!” he cried, “made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into your arms and present me to my Master, that he who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee.” The martyr remained alive on the cross two whole days, preaching of the love of Christ to all who came near.
From a homily on the Gospel of John by Saint John Chrysostom (Hom. 19, 1: PG 59, 120-121):
“After Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother. Notice what Andrew said to him: We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ. Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth. They reveal the zeal and concern of men preoccupied with this question from the very beginning. Andrew’s words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, of loving kinship, and sincere affection.
“Notice, too, how, even from the beginning, Peter is docile and receptive in spirit. He hastens to Jesus without delay. He brought him to Jesus, says the evangelist. But Peter must not be condemned for his readiness to accept Andrew’s word without much weighing of it. It is probable that his brother had given him, and many others, a careful account of the event; the evangelists, in the interest of brevity, regularly summarize a lengthy narrative. Saint John does not say that Peter believed immediately, but that he brought him to Jesus. Andrew was to hand him over to Jesus, to learn everything for himself. There was also another disciple present, and he hastened with them for the same purpose.
“When John the Baptist said: This is the Lamb, and he baptizes in the Spirit, he left the deeper understanding of these things to be received from Christ. All the more so would Andrew act in the same way, since he did not think himself able to give a complete explanation. He brought his brother to the very source of light, and Peter was so joyful and eager that he would not delay even for a moment.