The Leadership Principles of Jesus
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up…” (Mat. 17:1a; cf. Mark 9:2a).
1. Jesus didn’t just SEND His disciples; He LED His disciples.
OBSERVATION: A leader goes before and with his followers. He takes them along with him and shows them the way.
“Jesus…led them up on a high mountain by themselves” (Mat. 17:1).
2. Jesus didn’t merely lead His disciples; He lead them to a HIGH MOUNTAIN.
Mountains matter in Matthew’s account (cf. 5-7; 14:23; 15:29-38; 24-25; 28:16-20). God spoke in the Old Testament to Moses (Exo. 19-20) as well as Elijah (1 Kgs. 19:12) on a mountain. Peter later referred to this place as “the holy mountain” (2 Pet. 1:18).
OBSERVATION: A leader doesn’t simply move his followers from one location to another; He challenges them and takes them to a higher place.
“And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light” (v. 2).
3. Jesus didn’t simply change Himself; He TRANSFORMED His disciples.
Scripture declares that the Lord was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. The Greek word is metamorphoo—from which we get our English words “metamorphosis” and “metamorphic.” It refers to a change on the outside that comes from the inside (e.g., like a caterpillar into a butterfly).
Jesus was still Jesus—but He was dramatically different (Lk. 9:29); His appearance was miraculously altered. Unlike Moses, who reflected God’s glory (Exo. 34:29-35), Jesus by contrast, actually radiated His Father’s brilliance from within Himself (cf. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3) as a reminder of a) His heavenly origin (John 3:33; 6:33, 38, 41-42, 50-51, 58; Eph. 4:10), b) His pre-incarnate splendor (John 1:14; 17:5; Phil. 2:6-7), c) His exaltation from the grave (Mat. 28:3), and d) His eventual and final coming at the end of time (Acts 1:11; Col. 3:4; 1 Tim. 6:13-16).
Peter, James, and John were strongly affected by the transfiguration. Years later, Peter commented on this very circumstance and said, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we (emphasis mine—mb) heard this voice which came from heaven…” (2 Pet. 1:16-18a).
The trio didn’t concoct what happened to Jesus on the mountain. Rather, they were first-hand eye-and-ear witnesses of the divine glory of Jesus! They went from humble Galilean fisherman (Mat. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11) to devoted apostles of the Lord who were willing to live, preach, suffer and die for Him (cf. Acts 4-5, 12)! Like their Master, they too were transformed (cf. Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18) into lights in a world of darkness (Eph. 5:7-8).
OBSERVATION: A real leader must first change himself before He can expect his followers to change.