Have you ever thought about the people that made up Jesus’ inner circle. The people He relied on the most? What were they like?
There were four men that Jesus called to be His disciples first. Peter, Andrew his brother, and James and John, also brothers. Andrew kind of slips away and you don’t hear much about him, but the other three, Peter, James and John, became Jesus’ inner circle of friends.
These three men were the only ones that Jesus took with Him when He healed a little girl. In Mark 5:21-43, we see the story of the healing of Jairus’s twelve-year-old daughter. When Jesus goes to her house to heal her, Mark 5:37 says, “And He suffered no man to follow Him, save Peter, James, and John the brother of James.”
These three men were the only ones that Jesus took with Him when He was transfigured. Mark 9:2 says, “And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them.”
And right before Jesus went to the cross, He took these three men to Gethsemane to pray with Him before He faced the cross. Mark 14:33-34 says, “And He taketh with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.”
Why these men? What was so different about them that He kept them close to Him and showed them things He showed no one else?
A look at Peter shows:
- A man who asked to walk on water as Jesus did, but let fear and lack of faith take over. He had to be rescued by Jesus (see Matthew 14:27-31).
- A man who would fight a mob to defend Jesus (see John 18:10-11).
- A man who would declare that he would never be offended by standing with Jesus. Everyone else might be offended, but he would never be one of those (see Mark 14:27-31). Even when Jesus told him that before the cock crowed twice, Peter would deny him not only one time, but three times. Mark 14:31 says, But he (Peter) spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”
- A man who was headstrong, spoke before he thought, easily excited, told Jesus what to do, most well-known disciple. He was committed to Christ, yet at times failed and did things he regretted. He would have great success in faith or action followed by failure. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles but when he wanted to look good to others, he refused to eat with those same Gentiles. (see: https://studyandobey.com/character-studies/peter-character-study/
- Peter put God first in his life most of the time.
- He was repentant when he did wrong.
- He persevered until the end when he was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and became a powerful preacher.
A look at the brothers, James and John shows:
- Jesus nicknamed the brothers “The sons of thunder.” Mark 3:17 tells us, Jesus surnamed them “Boanerges” which means: “A fiery preacher with a powerful voice”. (Dictionary.com) The definition of fiery is: burning strongly and brightly.
- James and John ambitiously asked Jesus to do for them whatever they asked. Then asked to be granted to sit on either side of Him in His Kingdom. (see Mark 10:35-40)
- When a Samaritan village refused to welcome Jesus, the brothers wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the village (see Luke 9:51-56).
- James became the first apostle to be martyred in Acts 12:2.
- John continued in ministry with Peter and later wrote five books of the New Testament.
- Jesus turned the care of His mother, Mary, over to John who took her into his own home and cared for her. (see John 19:25-27)
- John desired to know and share truth in his writings.
- John is called the apostle Jesus loved (see John 13:23, 20:2,21:7,21:20).
- It is thought that John survived being thrown into a basin of boiling oil and then was exiled to the Island of Patmos where he wrote the book of Revelation. It is thought that he is the only disciple to die peacefully.
So what do we see about the men of Jesus’ inner circle? They are loud, ambitious, committed, not afraid to ask Jesus for things, headstrong, fearful, faith filled at times, weak in faith at times, repentant, lovable, and caring. What a contrast. Much like most of us.
What are the questions to ask after looking at these men’s, lives?
- What made Jesus choose these men? (He looked past the outside and saw their hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7)
- What do we need to do to become one of Jesus’ inner circle? (“You are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14)
- What should we look at when choosing our inner circle? (“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20)
Sarah Mally Hancock has written Discipleship packages for teen girls that you can purchase here: https://tomorrowsforefathers.mypinnaclecart.com/bright-lights/bright-lights-discipleship-package-1-w/o-cds/
In set four she has a great one entitled “Friends.” She reflects on the fact that choosing friends is a “life changing decision”. Wrong friends will influence us to not live as God desires us too. Sarah references the story of Daniel when looking at how to choose strong Christian friends that will stand with you through adversity. She references 1 Kings 12 as an example of choosing wrong “friends”. Sarah says, “you need to spend time with friends who will encourage you in the things of the Lord and will strengthen and sharpen you.” (see Proverbs 27:17)
Here is a paraphrased list of the questions Sarah encourages teens to ask when choosing their friends:
- Are they strong Christians?
- Are they respectful of their parents?
- What do they talk about? Boys, Girls, Gossip?
- What activities do they like? Do they encourage you to do wrong or questionable things with them?
- Do they waste your time?
- How do they treat other family members?
- Do you feel spiritually encouraged after being with them?
I think any of us could ask these questions when deciding who to let into our inner circle.
What do you consider the most important thing when choosing someone for your inner circle? Please feel free to comment below because we are here to sharpen each other:)