This post is part of an ongoing series, highlighting the martyrdom of the apostles, deacons, and missionaries of the first century church.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, is a beloved disciple of Jesus. He is first introduced to us in Matthew 4:18-20, which reads,
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
Upon answering this call, Andrew became one of the twelve that was discipled by Jesus during his three years of ministry.
Andrew caused a stir
Thanks to Bernard and Cyprian, who recorded both the confession and martyrdom of this apostle, we have a significant amount of historic information surrounding his ministry and consequent death.
They tell us that around the time that God used Andrew’s preaching ministry to bring many people to faith in Christ, Egeas the governor responded to these new conversions by asking the Roman senate to force all Christians to sacrifice to Roman idols. Andrew, of course, resisted Egeas and went to him saying, “While worshiping the true God, (one) should banish all false gods and blind idols from his mind.”
Upon hearing this, Egeas flipped his lid and demanded to know if Andrew was the man who had recently overthrown the temples of the gods and persuaded all kinds of men to become Christians. Christians at this point were considered a “superstitious” sect declared illegal by the Romans.
To this, Andrew boldly replied,
“The rulers of Rome didn’t understand the truth. The son of God who came into the world for man’s sake taught that the Roman gods were devils, enemies of mankind teaching men to offend God, and causing him to turn away from them. By serving the devil, men fall into all kinds of wickedness. And after they die, nothing but their evil deeds are remembered.
Not to our surprise, the proconsul ordered Andrew to not preach these things anymore; otherwise, he would face a “speedy crucifixion”.
Andrew’s famous response
Upon this threat from the Romans, Andrew replied with this amazing line:
“I would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross.”
He was thereby condemned to be crucified for “taking away the religion of the Roman gods.”
Andrew, while en route to the place of his execution, and seeing the cross waiting for him, never changed his expression, nor did he stumble in his words. With his bold faith maintained, he said, “Oh cross, most welcome and longed for, with a willing mind, joyfully and desirously I come to you being the scholar of him which did hang on you because I have always been your lover and yearn to embrace you.”
The cross he was crucified on had two ends fixed transversely in the ground. This type of crucifixion became known as St. Andrew’s Cross.