It has nothing to do with Jesus favoring them. It has to do with the soul qualities that they represent and the role these soul qualities play in developing consciousness and birthing the Christ within. All of the disciples represent specific soul qualities, but these three—through their unique role as the inner circle of Christ—represent the main qualities which unveil the process of spiritual evolution from the natural man to the enlightened man.
I believe this can be ascertained by the unique role they play in the Gospel narratives with Jesus. I am going to discuss these events briefly first, and then we’ll discuss why Jesus only allowed these three to be present. You’ll probably even have an “aha” moment before we reach the final conclusion and discuss why these three men get the special designation of Jesus’ inner circle.
Jesus singles them out for Jairus’ daughter
The first time Jesus mentions the inner circle is when he raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. As he enters the house (symbolically the body-temple), the scripture states:
“And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James” (Mark 5:37).
Traditionally, this event has been viewed as Jesus’ power to raise a young girl from the dead, but this is not what is meant by the story. The story is actually about the Christ who energizes part of the lower nature to conform to the higher nature through faith. This is the true spiritual definition of Biblical healing, and spiritual healing proceeds physical healing. Consider the points below:
In Matthew’s account Jairus states that his daughter is dead (Matt 9:18). When Jairus approaches Jesus in Luke’s account, his daughter is dying (Luke 8:42). Which is it? Scholars have used these passages to disprove the Bible’s inerrancy, but the debate is irrelevant because the story is an allegory about the awakening of consciousness to the higher nature.
“…Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth” (Mark 5:39).
The girl’s sleep symbolizes the state of the soul that is oblivious to spiritual enlightenment. Jesus wakes her, and progress in the process of spiritual evolution has been made.
Jesus singles them out to witness the transfiguration
The second event where we see the inner circle with Jesus is at his transfiguration. The scripture states:
“And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, James, and John, and leadeth them up into a high mountain apart to themselves” (Mark 9:2).
I have addressed this topic in another article at length already HERE, so I am going to be brief.
The transfiguration also represents the raising of consciousness. As Anny pointed out in her former article, ascending mountains represents the ascension of the lower nature with the higher. Even though the process is focused on the Christ, the inner circle had to be present, “apart to themselves,” because these soul qualities are always present in birthing the Christ nature within; they are direct witnesses of the radiant Christ nature because esoterically they are most directly involved within every soul who births the Christ.
Jesus singles them out in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Our third example of Jesus singling out these men happens at the Garden of Gethsemane. Although all his disciples enter the Garden, he tells them:
“Sit ye here, while I go pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (James and John.)
Again, why does Jesus just take these three men?
Jesus is going through severe suffering. He states: “…My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to the point of death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matt 26:38).
Jesus is suffering because he is about to go through the crucifixion and transcend the lower ego. Jesus goes on to pray (meditate) while these three disciples keep falling asleep. Just as in the account of Jairus’ daughter, sleep is mentioned, only this time by the disciples themselves.
Their sleep symbolizes the long process of spiritually awakening the Christ within. The Christ nature strives several times to “wake” them, finally conceding and allowing them to sleep because the Christ nature (higher self) is the final energizing factor of the lower nature. It’s a process that takes time. Jesus allows them to sleep because it is only the Christ nature itself which does not give up on us and presses in to make the transformation of our consciousness to take place. This is the true “grace of God” by which we are transformed.
Jesus, as the higher self, will leave Gethsemane to complete the transformation of his death at Golgotha. This is the final phase of the transcendence of the lower ego into the spiritual ego.
The significance of the inner circle
So why is it that these three men are the ones that make up his inner circle and are present at these special events? Let’s break down each disciple individually.
As we have already discussed in other articles, Peter represents the lower mind and ego. Now we’re going to show how this clearly plays out in the Gospel narratives.
At one point in Matthew chapter 16, Jesus asks Peter who he was. Peter responds with, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This represents the beginning of the lower mind recognizing the Christ nature within, which is why Jesus will eventually be able to build His church upon Peter. But as we’ll soon see, this is also the beginning of putting the ego on display which continually wrestles with the Christ nature, always assuming, doubting, denying, and causing internal conflict, until the lower mind is transcended and the spiritual ego takes shape. We can all identify with this process in our own lives. J
The true church, as a symbol formed in the causal body on the upper mental plane, cannot be truly built until the lower mind has been crucified. This is why Jesus also tells Peter in John 21:18 that he will be crucified as well.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst wither 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.”
Peter’s youth is symbolized by a strong lower ego which walks where it wants. But Jesus also reiterates that when Peter is spiritually matured, he (as the lower mind) will be crucified (stretching forth his hands).
It is my belief that there was never an actual Apostle named Peter who was crucified, but I certainly respect your beliefs if you do. As an interesting side note, there is a legend which goes so far as to say Peter was crucified upside down. For me, that legend further points to the allegorical nature of Peter’s crucifixion: the ego is in a sense opposite the Christ nature, and to say Peter was crucified upside down is a fitting symbol.
Whenever the list of the twelve disciples are mentioned, Peter always comes first. This is logical because Peter is the natural man. As such, he is always quick to act against the higher self, the Christ. Jesus is always rebuking him, even calling him Satan (ego), because the ego never understands the nature to which the Christ must rise within us.
For James I went directly to Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and Myth. Unlike Peter and John, there is not much mentioned about him in scripture. After you see the quote below, I think you’ll understand why:
James: “A symbol of the mental edifice of the human being, that is, the mentality or instrument of the mind, which is built up by the soul-qualities through aspiration and enlightenment. As a symbol of one of the four elements, James signifies Air (mind).
To put it more bluntly, James represents reason and the intellect. He is a scaffold for which the Christ nature begins to work through the individual. As I began to ponder his role, I couldn’t help but think about how important reason is for the human being. It plays the major part in developing the moral nature (John). Therefore he must also be always present with Christ and plays a vital role as one of the three in the inner circle.
Put plainly, John represents the love/moral nature. He is the one that rests his head on Jesus’ chest (the heart), and is also the one whom Jesus “loved.” Think about him in relation to Peter. There seems to be an underlying opposition between he and Peter at certain points in Jesus’ ministry. One such episode is present at the end of the Gospel of John. After Jesus tells Peter about the crucifixion he must endure, Peter seems to get jealous (an affliction of the lower mind). The scripture states:
“Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple who Jesus loved following…Peter seeing him saith unto Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow me” (John 21:20-22).
The love and moral nature drives us inward, towards the Christ and higher self. It is a higher ideal and lasting quality working through Peter (the natural man) and James (reason and the intellect) which helps bring the Christ nature to fruition within the individual. John gets the benefit of remaining and even writing the Book of Revelation which describes the final process of awakening of the individual to become a pillar in the house of God, forming the New Jerusalem (the true human).
Putting it all together
These three characters are the inner circle because collectively they are the main soul qualities which are present at every stage of initiation to birth the Christ within. I have not yet done an in-depth study on what the other disciples represent, but I am willing to bet they are not part of the inner circle because they are already contained within the main three. For example, we have already discussed how Peter is always first on the list of disciples mentioned. Interestingly Andrew comes next, which Gaskell tells us in the astral nature. The astral nature is allied with Peter, the natural man, and would naturally come second on the list of the twelve. James, (the mental man) and John (the love/moral nature) always follow in subsequent order. In retrospect, the natural man comes first, followed by the astral nature and then the mental nature. Finally John (love from the Buddhic Plane) follows James representing the mental plane, the exact order of an esoteric understanding of man. Interesting!
As another interesting side note, and with the help of Gaskell’s Dictionary, Peter is earth (natural man), Andrew is water (emotions), James is air (mental), and John is fire (Buddhic). We have all four important elements of the ancient world represented in the first four disciples on the list. Interesting again.
In a future post I will discuss the soul qualities of the other disciples with more research. Perhaps this will add much to this discussion here.