Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Simon Peter and Andrew: Lesson in Sibling Rivalry

If you grew up with brothers and sisters, you probably experienced a few tense moments of sibling rivalry. As the older brother of two sisters, I can remember incidents of fighting, but the reasons why are long forgotten. Fortunately, today I have a great relationship with both of my younger sisters.

The Bible is filled with stories of sibling rivalry--Joseph and his brothers, Jacob and Esau--but one pair of siblings rarely discussed is Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. While reading John 1:35-42, I was struck how Andrew met Jesus first, before his brother Peter, yet it's Peter, not Andrew, who becomes the star disciple in the gospels. In fact, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary states bluntly, "The New Testament shows little interest in Andrew." So, was there a sibling rivalry between Andrew and Peter?

We know the disciples were prone to jealousy and envy (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 9:33-37), yet it appears that Andrew and Peter enjoyed a harmonious relationship. After Andrew encountered Jesus, John 1:41-42 tells us, "the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus." Notice that when Andrew had become convinced of Jesus' special nature (John 1:39), the first person Andrew wanted to tell was his brother Peter. That's brotherly love!

If you're familiar with the New Testament, you know that Peter goes on to have a prominent role in relationship to Jesus. While Andrew and Peter were both among Jesus' 12 disciples (Mark 3:16-19), Jesus did not give Andrew and Peter equal attention. Peter, along with James and John, received extra time and training (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33). Interestingly, there is one incident in Mark 13:3--when Jesus discusses the end times--where Andrew seems to be butting in as he listens to Jesus along with Peter, James, and John. The last time we see Andrew's name in the Bible is in Acts 1:13. There, Andrew, Peter, and many other disciples are a unified fellowship of believers awaiting the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike the story of Jacob and Esau, the Bible doesn't tell us whether Peter or Andrew was the older brother. If I were to guess, Peter's bold personality and strong leadership style suggests someone first born. If true, then the younger brother introduced the older brother to Jesus. Peter learns from Jesus in the gospels, preaches Jesus in Acts, and writes of Jesus in 1 and 2 Peter. But in contrast to Peter's major role, Andrew is relegated to a minor character (John 6:8-9). Was Andrew envious of his older brother? Who knows? Maybe Andrew, who spent time with John the Baptist (John 1:40), took to heart one of the Baptist's lessons: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).

1 comment:

Melissa Weis said...

Makes me think about how I influence my sisters. Thank you.