Patient Zero (John 1:35-42)
I started kindergarten in 1979. One day I came home feeling just fine. But, the next morning was quite different. I had these red, itchy places from my head to my toes: Chicken pox. My mother has always looked at life from a “Let’s-Not-Talk-About-This-Let’s-Get-It-Done” perspective. She had two other children younger than I. It made perfect sense to my mother to take care of that childhood illness at the same time. So, she put my brothers in bed with me, I infected them, and all her kids had chicken pox at the same time. I was, in medical terminology, “Patient Zero”: The one who introduces a disease into a new environment.
Some of you have, no doubt, had encounters with “Patient Zero” before. Have you ever had a kid who brought you home this lovely little stomach virus? Have you ever had company come for a few days and leave behind some nice little bug? Have you ever been to worship, hugged someone, and then realized this precious brother or sister was sick and spreading germs?
There are some famous “Patients Zero.” Mary Mallon, Typhoid Mary, infected at least 51 people with typhoid fever as she worked as a cook. Gaëtan Dugas, a gay flight attendant, who had multiple partners, is considered by many to be the man who brought AIDS to the United States. A two-year-old is currently considered the “Patient Zero” of the Ebola outbreak of West Africa.
My absolute favorite novel is The Stand by Stephen King. In The Stand a man named Charles D. Campion is working at a military facility in California where the United States government is researching biological warfare. Campion is working the midnight shift in a guardhouse when there is an accident in the lab. The guardhouse where Campion is working was designed to seal him in as soon as an accident occurs; somehow the door remains unlocked so that he has time to escape. Campion runs to his home on that military installation and gets his wife and daughter. They are able to leave the base before the exits are sealed; they drive clear to Texas before all three of them succumb to “Captain Trips.” Because Campion is able to leave that base in California, 99.4% of the world’s population succumbs to Captain Trips. One person infected all the world.
This morning, we want to think about “Patient Zero.” We want to become “Patient Zero.” We have no desire to spread sickness around the world; we wish to spread the truth of God around the world. This morning I want you to understand that “You can change the world.” We’re going to think about the example of Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and how Andrew became “Patient Zero.”
Scripture (John 1:35-42)
John the Baptizer is with two of his disciples when he sees Jesus. John declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples follow Jesus. Jesus welcomes them and encourages them to follow Him. That’s how Jesus works. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Jesus will never turn anyone away who diligently seeks Him.
John records that Andrew is “Simon Peter’s brother,” because Peter was far better known than was Andrew. Even though Andrew may not have had the spotlight, it was he who brought that famous brother to Christ.
Andrew had a way of bringing people to Jesus. When Jesus fed the five thousand, Andrew found the boy with five loaves and two fish (Jn 6:8-9). When some Greeks told Philip that they wished to see Jesus, Philip went and told Andrew (Jn 12:20-26). Philip and Andrew together went to see Jesus. Why would Philip go tell Andrew before he told Jesus? I don’t wish to make too much out of that, but I can’t help but think Andrew had a habit of bringing people to Jesus.
Andrew changed the history of the world by bringing Peter to Jesus. Think about it. Because Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). Jesus, therefore, gave Peter the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19). Peter used those keys at Pentecost to open the kingdom of God. Peter used those keys again at Cornelius’ home to open the kingdom of God to us Gentiles. Every single person in the world who has ever received forgiveness of sins has been forgiven because Andrew brought Peter to Jesus and Peter opened the doors of the kingdom.
You, after all these centuries, can be forgiven of sins because Peter opened the doors of the kingdom and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. Andrew’s bringing Peter to Jesus changed your eternal destiny! You might very well be thinking that I’m making too much out of Andrew’s bringing Peter to Jesus. God, after all, had a plan for saving the world, and He could have saved the world with or without Andrew. That’s true, but let me ask you one question: How DID God do it?
Do you think Andrew had any idea what he was doing when he went and found his brother and brought him to Jesus? What could happen if you extend an invitation to next week’s Bring-A-Friend Day? You could change the eternal destiny of generations unknown!
On my mother’s side, I am a fourth generation Christian. My great-grandparents attended a revival one night, went home to get a change of clothes and went to the creek to be baptized. My great-grandfather worked to construct the building where that congregation worshiped. Do you think the one who issued that invitation realized how many lives would be impacted for good?
You have no idea what ONE invitation can do! One invitation can change the population of heaven. One invitation can change the world.
“You can change the world.” How can you change the world? How can you be like Andrew? Let’s think together.
Step One: You infect yourself.
If we’re using the illustration of “Patient Zero,” there is no way that “Patient Zero” can infect others unless he or she is infected.
Andrew was “infected” with Jesus and went to get Peter, his brother. How did Andrew get “infected” with Jesus? He and the other disciple “stayed with [Jesus] that day, for it was about the tenth hour” (v 39). Do you have any idea what Jesus might have taught these two disciples of John? Do you really think Jesus would have sat there all afternoon without teaching them? When Andrew found Peter, he said, “‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ)” (v 41). John the Baptizer refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God, not the Messiah. Granted, we all know that John meant Messiah, Christ, and Son of God. It, however, seems to me that Andrew was more fully convinced of Jesus’ identity after he spent the day with Jesus.
If you’re to be “infected” with Jesus, you must spend time with Jesus. We spend time with Jesus by learning of His Word. The words of Jesus are so important. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63). “The word that I have spoken will judge [you] on the last day” (Jn 12:48). The entire New Testament contains the words of Jesus (Jn 16:12-15).
Thus, if you want to be “infected” and spread Jesus, you need to get to know Him through Scripture. It greatly troubles me when I hear someone who has been a Christian for years and years say, “I don’t know enough to teach someone the Gospel.” I would love to look at folks who say that and say, “Really?!?! You’ve become a Christian, you’ve heard sermon after sermon, you’ve been attending Bible class for many years, but you don’t know enough to share with someone else?”
There are two very serious problems when a Christian says that he does not know enough to share the Gospel: One: You have identified a sin — yes, a sin — in your life, and: Two: You have just implied that you intend to do nothing about it.
Why is it a sin not to know enough to bring someone to Jesus?
- We’re commanded to make disciples. “Go . . . and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). You are to be making disciples. But, in the context Jesus is speaking to the Eleven, not to the rest of us. That gets us off the hook, right? Notice carefully that Jesus says that new disciples are to be taught everything the Eleven were taught — the Eleven were taught to make disciples; therefore, every faithful disciple since the time of the Apostles has been in the process of making disciples.
- We’re also to be growing in our knowledge of God.While he is willing to reteach fundamentals, the author of Hebrews tells his readers it’s time to move to maturity (Heb 6:1-3). “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet 2:2); Peter encourages growth.
Are you spending time with Jesus? This week make a commitment to spend time with Jesus by studying His Word. This week:
- Read the Gospel of John. As you read John, you cannot help but have your faith in Jesus grow. That’s the book’s purpose: John 20:30-31.
- If you want to learn the Gospel and how to share the truth of Jesus, read through the Book of Acts this week. In Acts, the inspired physician tells us over and over how to come to Jesus.
I know I’ve just asked you to read two books of Scripture. That will take some time, and we have so very little free time anymore. Yet, if you can find a better way to spend your time than preparing for eternity, I’d be really curious to know what it is.
Step Two: You invite others.
Andrew “first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (vv 41-42).
When you are sufficiently infected, you bring others to Jesus. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [Jesus’] name to all nations” (Lk 24:47). Bringing people to Jesus emulates the example of the early church: “Those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).
Let’s apply this in a very specific manner:
- Go home and make a list of five people you want to see in heaven. Do NOT go home and put faithful children of God on that list! Put people on that list who would be eternally lost should Jesus come today.
- Do two things with that list:
- Pray for those souls by name. “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Rom 10:1). Get on your knees and pour your heart out to God at least once a day.
- Invite them to come to Jesus. Take some invitations for next Sunday and invite those precious souls to come. Inviting people to come and hear the Word of God is as biblical as it can be. That’s what Andrew does with Peter in our text. When a king’s invited guests refused to attend his wedding feast, the king told his servants, “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find” (Matt 22:9).
Whom will you invite? Do you need to come to Jesus this morning? He has given a great invitation (Matt 11:28-30).
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Dale Ridge church of Christ in Roanoke, Virginia.