“Why Peter, James and John?”
Mark 5:37, Mark 9:2, Mark 14:33-34
Introduction: In our study on the “Master’s Men” would you please follow me as I again read from Matthew 10: 1-4,
“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. (2) Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; (3) Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; (4) Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”
Again in verse 1 we read, "And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples…" and in verse 2 we read, "Now the names of the twelve apostles." They were CALLED to be “Disciples,” they were SENT as “Apostles.” These TWELVE men whom the Lord chose to be His disciples were the most significant men ever assembled together. Frankly these were just ordinary men. But the twelve were chosen from the common people to be the agents of Christ and to set in motion the advancement of the Kingdom. THROUGHTOUT THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A TASK EQUAL TO THE TASK GIVEN THESE MEN, "To FINISH the WORK that Jesus began."
In this sermon we want to continue our introduction to the “Master’s Men,” the twelve chosen men who changed the world. In so doing, we pose a question “Why Peter, James and John?” Please follow me as I read several passages, all found in the Gospel of Mark.
In Mark 5:37 following the raising of Jarius’ daughter from the deadwe read, “And He (Jesus) suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John brother to James.
In Mark 9:2 at Jesus’ transfiguration we read, “And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them.”
In Mark 13:3-4 as Jesus was about to give His Olivet discourse we read, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, (4) Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?”
In Mark 14:33-34in the garden of Gethsemane we read, “… He (Jesus) taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed…And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.”
Again the question why these three?
Why did Jesus choose these three, Peter, James and John as His inner circle of disciples?
Why did He choose these three on only three occasions during His earthly ministry when He could have included more?
It could be that Jesus was following the principle often taught in the Bible of how an event should be verified in the minds of people. The testimony of one man was not enough to cause a man to be put to death under the Mosaic Law. The witness of two or three was required.
In the Old Testament from Deuteronomy 17:6 we read, “At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death…”
In the New Testament from I Timothy 5:19 we read, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”
After the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, it would be necessary that the proper number of witnesses be able to give testimony to some of the great events which took place in the Lord’s ministry.
The event of the raising of Jarius’s daughter from the dead not only attested to His power over death but was also prophetic of His own resurrection.
The transfiguration, which was witnessed by Peter, James and John, was a picture in miniature of the coming kingdom of Christ, where Christ is seen in His divine glory.
The third scene that Peter, James and John were allowed to witness was the travail and agony of Gethsemane.
They had to learn that the greater the sin of man, the greater the agony of His sufferings.
They had to learn that before the crown comes the cross, and before the glory must come humiliation.
In His own sovereign wisdom Jesus provided the biblical number of witnesses to establish forever these great truths. We dare not “tread where angels fear to tread” in attempting to determine why Peter, James and John where chosen by Jesus. However, there are some remarkable things about these three men that might give us at least a partial answer.
Why Did Jesus Choose Peter as one of the three? Perhaps Jesus chose Peter because he gave the clearest declaration of the deity of Christ that any of the disciples ever gave. It came at the focal point of the earthly ministry of Christ when He was about to announce that He would go to Jerusalem and be crucified by religious leaders. Most Bible students agree that in Matthew 16:21 we have the “turning point” of that book, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
It is at this time in Matthew 16:16, when Simon Peter gives the most complete confession of faith in the deity of the Son of God, “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Notice in Peter’s ten simple but profound words, that he used the definite article four times in the original Greek language of the text. When he spoke of Jesus as the “Son of the living God,” he set Jesus apart from all other mortals; the Living One who was begotten by the Living God.
Then in verses Matthew 16:17-19 Jesus gives this profound revelation, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (18) And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (19) And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
There is something else entirely unique about Peter when compared to the other disciples. He had more to do, humanly speaking, with the founding of the church in its infant stage than any other disciple. The church is built on Christ; He is the “Rock.” It has no human element in its foundation, “For other foundation can not man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 3:11. However, the scriptures teach that it was the apostles who built upon this foundation, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Himself bring the chief corner stone.” Ephesians 2:19-20.
Please take note again, the apostles were not the foundation; they merely laid it. Peter was the prominent one in the laying of this foundation. He preached the Gospel to the Jews on the day of Pentecost and later to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius.
Simon Peter was to suffer for the cause of Christ years after the ascension of Christ. In the closing verses of John’s Gospel, the Lord told Peter that he, Peter, would suffer and die a martyr’s death. In John 21:18-19 Jesus speaking to Peter said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. (19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” The details of his death are not given in the Scriptures, but Peter knew when the time had come, for he wrote in II Peter 1:14, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus shewed me.” When Peter’s suffering came, he could remember and be strengthened by the fact that he had witnessed the greatest suffering ever endured, having seen the Lord Jesus sweating great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.
When Peter wrote his two epistles, he wrote of suffering, using the word “Suffer” in one form or another at least 16 times. The classic passage being that of I Peter 4:16, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him Glorify God on this behalf.” Can it be that because Peter was to suffer so much, and write so much to comfort others in suffering, that the Lord chose him to be one of the favored three?
Why Did Jesus Choose James as one of the three? James and John were brothers and James is never mentioned apart from John. James was the first disciple to be martyred and John was the last disciple to die, as he died a natural death. The record of James death is recorded for us in Acts 12:1-2, “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”
We will go into more detail on this instance later, however on one occasion James and John, in the midst of fighting as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom, sent their mother to Jesus to ask that her two sons might have the chief seats in the coming kingdom. In Matthew 20:22-23 Jesus recorded His answer to them. “…Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And He ( Jesus ) said unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”
Now when Jesus was speaking of “drinking of His cup” and experiencing “His baptism,” he was speaking of the cup of suffering and the baptism of blood and death. In this passage of Matthew 20, Jesus then took the time to teach them some great truths of our Christian faith.
FIRST: He taught that the way to greatness is through service in verse 26, “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.”
SECOND: He taught that the way to be a leader was first to be a bond slave to Jesus and to others in verse 27, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” The word for servant in this passage is “bondslave.” I sincerely believe that the absence of this sweet servant spirit amongst the family of God is appalling and the lack of this sweet servant spirit accounts for the lack of blessing and revival in many churches today. All this comes through the lack of a godly servant’s spirit in our lives and ministry.
THIRD: Jesus taught that the way up is first down and the way to receive is to give in verse 28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Why Did Jesus Choose John as one of the three? John seemed to have the closest relationship with Jesus. Perhaps Jesus chose John as one of the three, because John expressed his love and affection for Jesus more than any of the other disciples. For example, in these passages you will discover that John is characterized as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”
John 13:23, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”
John 20:2, “Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.”
John 21:10, “Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following…”
The love of John for Jesus was outwardly expressive. Can it be that was the reason for Jesus giving John the privilege of being included in the very inner circle of Jesus’ relationships?
John was given a great and sacred responsibility even as Jesus was dying on the cross. In John 19:26-27 we read, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said unto his mother, Women, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold, thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” Jesus committed the care of His precious mother into the hands of John when He could have chosen anyone of the other disciples. The omniscient Christ knew that John would outlive all of the others, and that his love would be expressed in taking care of Mary.
Perhaps Jesus took John into the inner circle because He also knew that John would write five of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
In writing the Gospel of John, he knew that Jesus was the Son of God, thus we read of the purpose of the Gospel of John in 20:31, “…that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
The epistles of I, II, III John were written that we might know that we are saved, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” I John 5:13
John, in writing the prophetical book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, did so that we might know that Jesus is coming back again. The closing words say, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20
John wrote approximately one-fifth of the New Testament. Can it be that Jesus chose him to be one of the inner circle of three because he would be inspired to write so much of the Word of God? You should think about that.
What do these insights mean to you as a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ? Perhaps three closing thoughts will help put God’s Word into perspective.
FIRST: When you were saved, God chose you unto himself. That means you are someone special. You are someone unique to God and the purposes of God. God has given to you a unique gift and a challenge to live for Him and to serve Him. Question, are you really living for Him and are you truly serving Him with your whole heart?
SECOND: I believe that your closeness to God comes when you are seeking to meditate upon His Word, and seeking his face in prayer. Question, just how close are you to the Lord?
THIRD: Perhaps He chose these three, Peter, James, and John, because out of all the disciples these would accomplish great exploits for the cause of Christ.
Maybe God is not going to ask you to do something drastic in life or of a great measure, but are you willing to serve if he should call? You should also think about that.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon on “Why Peter, James and John?” then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you please let me know? Please send me an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com. and in return I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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