The Future Pope May Be Your Brother!

One exciting thing about following Jesus is, to borrow a phrase from Candid Camera, that "on any day, at any time, when you least expect it," life can completely change. While we are focused on our daily routine of going to work, stopping at the store for groceries, or sitting in a doctor's waiting room, God may be at work arranging divine appointments for us. While we are consciously aware of our daily schedule, we may be completely oblivious to the dynamic ramifications of our mundane encounter with others.

In John 1:35-42 we see an example of the rapid-fire influence that can take place when one person decides to share Christ with others. John the Baptist was standing with two of his disciples when Jesus walked by. John simply announced, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" In that one phrase, John pointed to the very thing his followers were longing for, the Messiah.

The gospel informs us that "one of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother." Think about it, if it were not for the witness of John, what would have happened in Andrews's life? There's no way to know for sure, but we do know that his life was dramatically altered because of one man's timely witness.

What would Andrew do with this new revelation? Would he keep it to himself, considering his new relationship with Jesus a private matter? No, this meeting with Jesus was so important to Andrew that he had to tell others. Notice that he first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). He then brought his brother to Jesus whereupon Simon's name was changed to Peter.

Note the progression of events. John tells Andrew, Andrew tell Simon, then Andrew brings Simon to Jesus, then Jesus looks at Simon and proclaims a change in his life.

What fascinates me about this scripture reading is the fact that Peter began his life with Christ through the witness of a family member. In their earlier years growing up, no one from their hometown could have predicted that one day Andrew's brother would receive the keys to the kingdom of God and become the first pope. Who could have possibly known this? God.

Earlier this month, we saw in the gospel reading how the light of the eastern star (Matthew 2:2) directed the wise men to Jesus in Bethlehem. As Christianity is incarnational, it comes as no surprise to find people doing what the eastern star did, guiding people to Christ.

Turning to your own family, what kind of plans do you think God has for them? Perhaps your brother or sister will go on to do tremendous things for God and future generations will refer to them as "St. So and So of the Twin Cities." Wouldn't that be shock to your system? If God can take an impetuous fisherman called Simon and make of him a leader, martyr, and saint, then what could God do with that brother or sister of yours? What could God do with your cousin or nephew? Remember that all saints had an initial moment in their lives when they were invited to follow Christ. Family members can play a major role as witnesses and mentors for Christ.

We're reminded in John 1:35-42 that evangelization starts at home. In our lives we have no one as precious as our own family members. I'm sure that Andrew, like us, had all the typical problems that siblings experience while growing up, but all this was put aside to share the greatest gift of all, Jesus.

Deep down inside, your family members are all longing for the infinite love and acceptance that only God can give. You may be the only who really understands their life situation and has the opportunity to share the good news.

Like Andrew, we are faced with the same question, what will we do with our knowledge of Christ?

Here is a couple of things to do:

1. Designate some time this week to pray for your family members. Pray that their hearts would be open to God's calling on their life. Pray that they would discover and walk in their vocation.

2. Determine to tell a family member what Jesus has meant to you. Don't feel that you need to preach the whole Bible, just tell them something.