There is no greater leader, than the Lord Jesus. Two thousand years after His brief earthly ministry, the impact of His leadership is still being felt, books are written about Him, universities named after Him, churches meet weekly to worship Him, He was a leader among all leaders because people today are still following him! Why did people follow Jesus?
Matthew 4:25 states, “And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.” In the context of Matthew 4, here are five reasons people followed Jesus.
1. There Was a Clear Identification (Matthew 3:13–17)
Matthew 3 records the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was glad to identify with the man John the Baptist, the message of repentance, and the manifest of the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus was not wishy washy when it came to identifying with what He believed and why He believed. He was meek yet bold, silent yet strong, humble yet confident in His baptism which identified Him.
Leaders do not have the luxury to be unclear when it comes to identification. If you have been called to lead, you absolutely cannot be afraid to identify clearly and publicly with who you are and what you believe. People will not follow nor respect an individual who is called to lead yet timid about identifying who they really are. On a side note, let me add that Jesus did this with all humility. Leading like Jesus will never cause you to be abrasive, rude, loud, and obnoxious. None of these traits are Jesus’ leadership traits. Humbly identify yourself with Christ, the gospel, the Bible, and the Christian faith, but do so with a spirit of humility.
2. There Was a Conquering of Temptation (Matthew 4:1–11)
Jesus, following His baptism, was lead into the wilderness and tempted by Satan forty days and nights. It has always been interesting to me that this identification of baptism was immediately followed by a testing to prove His identification. Jesus passes this test with flying colors by correctly quoting and applying the Scriptures. Jesus was followed by many because of the purity of His life. People watched Jesus and knew that He was genuine. Pilate even said he could find no fault in Jesus.
Spiritual leaders must conquer temptation if they are going to lead people. People need examples that live a life of purity and will not succumb to the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus was worthy of following because He lived a life of purity and example to those who followed Him.
3. There Was a Contrasting Illumination (Matthew 4:12–17)
Jesus begins to preach and comes into a region of spiritual darkness. The Scriptures states in Matthew 4:16 “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light sprung up.” There was just something different about Jesus!
He brought light to darkness, hope to hopelessness, faith to doubt, love to hate, and life to death! Everywhere and everyone He met saw a great difference and felt the difference when He was with them. Spiritual leaders should strive to leave people better than where they found them. The only way to make a difference is to be different! Jesus changed the world because the world could not change Him!
4. There Was a Confident Direction (Matthew 4:18–22)
Jesus calls His inner circle of disciples to vocational ministry in Matthew 4. While calling them, Jesus knew exactly where He was going, where He wanted them to go, and how to get it all accomplished.
“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”—Matthew 4:19
Jesus was confident in the direction He was going to lead these men. He did not present a vague plan, He presented a detailed plan that included them being “made” by Him. Leaders do not point the way, leaders lead the way. If we are the last to show up and the first to leave, we are not leading! Leaders are involved in the process just as Jesus was involved in the process of making His disciples fishers of men. We cannot lead people where we are not willing to go! Jesus was involved in the lives of His followers and presented confident direction because He knew where He was going.
5. There Was a Competent Compassion (Matthew 4:23–25)
I am constantly amazed at the compassion of Jesus. He was intimately involved in ministering to other people, but His compassion was competent. His compassion was not just a “I’ll be praying for you brother” type of compassion. Jesus knew how to solve problems that people presented to Him.
Leadership is not about identifying problems only, it is about solving problems. Dr. Tom Malone once said to me: “The greatest churches and pastors are the churches and pastors that fulfill the Great Commission and resolve the problems that come along with it.” Problems are always going to arise because people always have problems. People are not the problem, but people have problems. Jesus never ran away from the problems, He was compassionate and component to resolve the problems that arose while ministering to people.
I am so thankful for every book on the subject of leadership I have read, but I have yet to find a greater leader or book written on leadership than Jesus Christ and His Word. Let’s strive to lead like Jesus today!