That is a very good question which has sometimes been answered with other questions. For example, “Did Jesus take these three with Him on certain occasions because their faith was stronger than the other disciples?” Others feel the opposite and have asked, “Did Peter, James and John need special encouragement because their faith was weaker than that of the other apostles?” Another thought-provoking question is, “Were these three chosen to accompany the Lord on special occasions because Peter and John would later be used to write part of the New Testament and James would be the first Christian martyr?” I don’t believe we can answer ANY of these questions with real certainty, but we do know that the Lord was pleased to make them part of His “inner circle” for His honor and glory and for their blessing.

Let’s read the three accounts where Peter, James and John were selected to witness events that the other disciples didn’t see. In Luke 8:50-55 we read, “But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’ When He came into the house, HE PERMITTED NO ONE TO GO IN EXCEPT PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN, and the father and mother of the girl. Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, ‘Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.’ And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately” (NKJV). The next account is in Matthew 17:1-2, “Now after six days JESUS TOOK PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN HIS BROTHER, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” The last account is found in Matthew 26:36-39, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And HE TOOK WITH HIM PETER AND THE TWO SONS OF ZEBEDEE, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’.”

It would take many pages to go over all the lessons that could be learned from these three special occasions, but there is one lesson that is contained in all three. All three events have something to do with DEATH. In the healing of Jairus’ daughter the Lord proved that He is VICTORIOUS OVER DEATH. On the Mount of Transfiguration the Lord showed the favored three that He would be GLORIFIED IN HIS DEATH. And in the Garden of Gethsemane the disciples saw the Lord Jesus SURRENDERING TO DEATH. These precious truths would have brought great comfort to James, whose martyrdom is recorded in Acts 12:1-2, and also to Peter, whose death by crucifixion was foretold by Jesus in John 21:18-19. John would have been encouraged as well, for we read in Revelation 1:9 that he was exiled on the isle Patmos and was ready to “seal his testimony with blood” if called upon to do so. I’m sure that these three events were indelibly impressed on the minds of Peter, James, and John and served to strengthen their faith and cause them to worship the Lord Jesus for His willingness to be “obedient unto death,” for the “victory over death” that would follow in His glorious resurrection, and for the “glory in His death” which shall fulfilled when He comes in power and glory to establish His kingdom.

In closing, though we weren’t present in Jairus’ house, or on the Mount of Transfiguration, or in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Spirit of God has recorded these things FOR OUR ENCOURAGMENT. May we meditate often on these three events and allow the Spirit of God to fill our hearts with the same encouragement that He gave to Peter, James, and John.  (197.5)  (DO)