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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012



September 6, 2009

Three times in the gospel record of eighty-nine chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John there were three Apostles who seemed to be part of the inner circle. At least on three recorded incidents, Peter, James, and John were allowed to accompany Jesus on three missions when the remaining nine were excluded.

The first one was in the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus. Jairus told the Lord, “My little daughter is even now dead but come and lay Thy hand upon her and she shall live.”

When the Lord raised up the daughter of Jairus from the dead, Peter, James, and John were invited into the resurrection room with the parents of the child to view the proceedings. I wonder why the Lord allowed only the three to view this resurrection. I would suppose He allowed only three into the resurrection room because twelve Apostles and the two parents along with the Lord, making a total of fifteen people, would make very cramped quarters. However, for whatever reason He did choose Peter, James and John.

When Jesus went to the top of the mountain and experienced the Transfiguration, again it was Peter, James, and John who were singled out to the exclusion of the other nine. Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus in glory and spake to Him concerning His decease that He would accomplish at Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that when people visit the earth from outer space, the one thing they want to talk about is the most important thing that ever happened on this planet, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, it was the same trio of worthies again, Peter, James, and John.

Then the third time was in the Garden of Gethsemane; it was Peter, James, and John who went into the garden with the Lord while the remaining eight waited outside. Why these three only? This was a most sacred occasion. Jesus was amazed and sore troubled in the garden. The word amaze has the meaning of terrified and frightened. Martin Luther said that Jesus feared death at this point more than any person who ever lived. The Christian can face death with assurance because of what Jesus did. The sting of death is sin. But when Jesus faced death, He was carrying the load of every sin ever committed. So once again it was the same members of that illustrious trio Peter, James, and John who were members of the inner circle.

Now, what would it be like to experience life as a member of the inner circle? For one thing the inner circle is always smaller.


Only three were allowed into the fellowship of the inner circle, because the fellowship of the inner circle is a very exclusive club. I knew a theology professor who once told his class, “If in your lifetime you find twelve people that you believe are completely dedicated to Christ, you probably won’t find any more.” Daniel Webster was one of the most prominent Senators in the history of the USA. In his biography he says, “As a young man when he expressed the ambition to become a lawyer, someone advised against it, and told him the field was already overcrowded.” Webster replied, “There is always plenty of room at the top.” Ladies and Gentlemen, there is always plenty of room in the inner circle. One inspirational speaker uses the line, “See you at the top.”

In John chapter six at the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus was at the top of His popularity, the multitude wanted to make Him king, but when they heard more of His teaching the next day, the multitude and many of His disciples walked with Him no more. Jesus asked the twelve if they were leaving. Simon Peter spoke for eleven of the Apostles and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life and we believe and know that Thou art the Holy One of God.” Most folk think it important to be big. The bigger the crowd in a Church service the better it is. Today many think the bigger the denomination, the better it is. The bigger the building, the better it must be; but when you join the inner circle, what a shock to find hardly anyone else there. It should come as no surprise when I tell you the churches that give the most financial help to this broadcast are small congregations in number. In any phase of Christian service never, never, never, never, never, expect to find a large crowd in the fellowship of the inner circle.


The number in the inner circle is not only smaller, but they are always closer to Jesus. Peter, James, and John were closer to Jesus in the resurrection room, closer to Jesus when His glory shown through the rags of His mortal flesh, closer to Jesus when He sweat great drops of blood in the agony of Gethsemane. Think of it, those crimson droplets oozed from every pore of His body as He shed His blood for us even before a wound was inflicted on His body. An angel appeared to strengthen Him to remind Him of where He had come from, and to whence He would go after the resurrection. The Father was watching. The angels were watching. The Devil was watching. The only humans that could watch, even though a stone’s throw away, were the inhabitants of the inner circle. Maybe that is why most are not in the inner circle. Not everyone wants to get that close to Jesus; the Lord must be held at arm’s length.

I heard of a young lady one time going off to college. She was afraid what her peers might say when they learned she was a Christian. Her mother assured her everything would be all right, to just stand up for her faith. She came home for Thanksgiving holidays and her mother said, “How did you get along when they found out you were a Christian?” The young lady said, “I got along just fine; nobody suspected a thing.”

Most folk I know in the Church of Christ and Christian Church would rather take a beating than to live in such a way that someone might call them a religious fanatic. Most Christians want to hide in the anonymity of the mediocre. They might be proud to be called a fanatic over their favorite sports team, but it would be horrible to be known as a Jesus freak. The inner circle is always closer.


The inner circle is smaller, closer, and also composed of those who know more. There is a reason why so many members of the Church have such little knowledge of the contents of the Word of God. Why is it that many can be members of the body of Christ, and after a lifetime not know any more about the contents of the Bible than when they started? A deacon asked me one time if the book of Nehemiah was in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

The answer is given by Jesus in John 8:31-32: Then said Jesus to those Jews that believed on Him, "If ye abide in My Word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Peter, James, and John knew more than the other Apostles. Go to the house of Jairus, and ask one of the nine outside the resurrection room, “What is Jesus doing in that room with the parents?” He would say, “I don’t know, ask him.” “Why did Peter, James, and John go in with Jesus?” He would tell you, “I don't know.”

Now when the members of the inner circle come out of the resurrection room, ask either one of them, “What did Jesus do?” He would say, “He raised her up from the dead.” “How did He do it?” “He took her by the hand and said, Damsel, arise and she came back to life.” “What else did He do?” “He told us to give her something to eat.”

I wonder if they thought about that request of Jesus after the day of Pentecost, “Give her something to eat.” When a person hears the gospel and is led to repent and then to be buried in the watery grave of baptism for the remission of sins and raised to walk in newness of life, it is always a good idea to give them something to eat. Give them the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day, and give them the Bread of Life to eat in a gospel sermon and Bible School lesson. The members of the inner circle know more than the others.

Go to the foot of Transfiguration Mountain and ask any of the nine Apostles, “Where is Jesus?” “He went up to the top of that mountain.” “Where are Peter, James, and John?” “They went with Him.” “What are they doing up there?” “I think I heard Him say He was going to pray.” “Why did He have to go to a mountaintop to pray?” “I don't know.”

When Peter, James and John came down from the mountain, ask either one of them, “What were you doing up there?” They would say, “It was a wonderful experience, but I can’t tell you what it was.” “Why can’t you tell us?” “Because Jesus told us not to tell anybody until after He was raised up from the dead.”

What a story the inner circle could have told at that time if they had been permitted. They had experienced what it will be like to live in eternal glory. Peter said, “It is good for us to be here.” He was willing to stay on the mountaintop and never go back again. This gives us an idea what it is like for the righteous dead. They are in such bliss that they have no wish to ever return to this world again.

After the resurrection of Jesus they told what happened on the mountaintop. Peter refers to the event when He said, “We were witnesses of His majesty when we were with Him in the Holy Mount.” The other nine did not have that experience. That was only for the inner circle.

Now let us go to the Garden of Gethsemane and ask one of the eight on the outside, “Where is Jesus?” “He told us to sit here and He went into the Garden.” “Why did He go in there?” “He said He was going to pray.” “Where is Judas?” “We don’t know.” “Where are Peter, James, and John?” “They went with Him.” “Are they praying too?” “I don’t know.” “How long will He be in there?” “I don’t know.”

Go into the Garden and ask any of the three, “What are you doing?” “We have been sleeping.” “Where is the Lord?” “He is about a stone’s throw away, praying.” “How long has He been praying?” “Well, He came and woke us up and asked us why we could not watch with Him one hour.” “What did He do then?” “He went away and prayed again, and then He came back again and found us asleep and then went away a third time and prayed. His face was red; it looked like He had been sweating blood.” Those in the inner circle always know more than the others.


In the event you might want to enter the inner circle, it might be well to consider the honor that is conferred upon such dedicated people. Their future was bright with glory, if you want to look at it that way.

Look what happened to Peter? After the resurrection, the Lord told him, “When you were young you girded yourself, and walkedest whether thou wouldest.” But the Lord further told him that when he became old, he would stretch forth his hands and others would carry him where he did not want to go. This, John said, was a reference to how he would glorify God in his death. Jesus rewarded His dedicated service by letting him die the death of a martyr. The statement of Jesus sounds like crucifixion. For the rest of his life on earth, he lived in the shadow of the cross on which he would die. Tradition says that when the time came for his crucifixion, he requested that he be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die as the Lord died. Remember, the Lord tells all who would follow Him, “If any man would come after Me, let him take up his cross daily and follow Me.” At this point we ask, “How many want to join the inner circle?”

Before you answer, there is James to consider. He did not have to wait very long for the payoff of dedicated service. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that Herod stretched forth his hands to afflict certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. What a glorious reward for dedicated service, to get your head cut off. James was not an old man at the time of his death, there was much yet that he could do. The Lord only had twelve Apostles.

Surely God could not spare one when there was so much an Apostle could do. Surely He will intervene and save his life. It may be that the Lord let James die what we might call an untimely death to stress the point that God does not need James, God does not need you, God does not need me, but we need the Lord.

Most of our people are too sophisticated to cut our heads off, but preachers ought to keep in mind they might cut your water off, or cut you out of their fellowship. Do you still want to be included in the inner circle on God’s terms? Then consider the Apostle John. Look at the first chapter of Revelation and listen to him say, “I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and Kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” That was John’s reward for faithful service. He was shipped off to the loneliness of a desert island. Somewhat like solitary confinement; however, John was not completely alone. He said he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. Do you have a warm fuzzy glow about being in the inner circle?

Perhaps there are other circles you would find more to your liking. Some might prefer a much larger circle. I have heard that expression “the circle I travel in”. What circle do you travel in? Some may travel in a circle of an educational system that would look with disfavor on your view of Biblical creation. So you might think it politically correct to keep a low profile on your views of the Word of God. Some may travel in the social circle of business and your lifestyle may put pressure on booze and/or entertainment. Remember, most quote Christians unquote do not want anyone to think they are fanatics over religion. And then some travel in the circle of religious conformity. Any Bible doctrine that does not conform with the beliefs of the majority is taboo. Evidently, the voice of the people is the voice of God. We the people decide what is moral or immoral. Our motto is, “Everybody’s doing it.” Remember, Jesus was crucified because He did not travel in the circle of religious conformity. And now here is the bottom line of this whole tirade. Whatever the circle you travel in, without Christ in the center of the circle, your circle is a big fat ZERO!