Andrew held back as the crowd surged forward. The disciples were arguing again, each pretending he knew exactly what the Teacher meant by that last parable.
Andrew grinned to himself. None of them did, but they'd die before they would admit it.
He studied their backs and thought again about his role in all this. Sometimes he didn't seem to fit. They were all so intense, so passionate about everything, even when wrong. He wasn't. He was just Andrew, Simon's little brother.
His timidity used to bother him, but not any more. He was used to holding back. How could you do anything else when your big brother was Simon? Simon, the limelight stealer.
He laughed to himself when he thought of his brother. The funny thing was, he didn't mind. Simon was so forceful, so convinced that everything he did was right, he sorta swept you along. How many crazy schemes had he gone along with simply because Simon had convinced him it would work? He had almost drowned in that harebrained automated boating idea and still carried the scars from Simon's attempts to make him fly like a bird. Sometimes the ideas worked, but it was always Simon's triumph. Andrew was just there.
Jesus looked up, caught his eye over the heads of the other disciples, and winked. They shared a special knowledge and it was enough. That knowledge had elevated his position for the first time in his life and it was enough to sustain him forever. He had been the first of the twelve to recognize that this carpenter from Nazareth was the promised Messiah.
For the first time it was Andrew who had discovered a secret, a knowledge so thrilling, so incredible, that he had gone to get his brother. And he had been right. This time Andrew was first.
Jesus knew it too and always reminded him of it with a special look, a thoughtful consideration of anything he ventured to say. Sometimes Jesus even acted like Andrew was the teacher and it both humbled and exalted him.
He thought again of that time on the hill when Jesus had told them all to find food for thousands of people. The other eleven had nearly panicked, but it was Andrew who quietly walked over to the kid with the basket and asked if Jesus could have it.
He felt a little foolish. What was one little lunch? But he'd watched this Teacher long enough to expect anything. His hands were shaking when he brought the basket to Jesus. He had listened for the rebukes sure to come from the others, but none came as he held out the basket and gave Jesus something to work with.
Jesus had given him that special smile again and the slightest nod that had sent chills down his spine. The Teacher could say so much with one look. He'd never known anyone like this. His heart quickened again as he thought about the hints the Master had been dropping lately. Something about dying. For once he wished he didn't understand.
The eleven had finished their debate and Jesus quieted them. He was gonna explain it. Andrew would never say this aloud, but he already understood the parable. He knew what the Master was about to say.
The others sat down around the Teacher, but Andrew stayed where he was, in the back, leaning against a tree.
Jesus gave him a quick grin, as if he knew Andrew already had it. Then he began to explain what Andrew had known he would say.
Understanding seemed to come to him faster than to the others. Maybe that's what happens when you are content to hold back, stay out of the limelight, simply listen and observe. Maybe understanding comes to those who are truly ready to receive it.
Are you an Andrew?
Are you usually overlooked? Taken for granted? Is there someone in your life who is always better, smarter, more attractive and who takes any attention that might be yours? Do you crave the feeling of being first at something?
Learn from Andrew. Jesus knows where you are. You are first with him. And that is enough to last a lifetime.