After 39 Old Testament books filled with what some may see as “dos and don’ts” of the Christian faith, Jesus sums up all the rules with two simple commands:
"Jesus replied: '"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself.’"” –Matthew 22:37-39, emphasis added
We’re commanded to first love God with our entire being, and then—out of an overflow of love for Him—love others. It is in this deep, abiding devotion to Jesus Christ first and foremost that we bear lasting fruit.
"'I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.'" –John 15:5
One of the interesting things to consider surrounding the Great Commandment is Jesus’ audience—the religious leaders of His time. To the masses, they were seen as law abiding citizens. They would even put extra measures in place to ensure they didn’t break Old Testament laws. But despite their religious efforts, Jesus rebuked them as whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27-28).
They were spiritually dead despite their upright appearance.
Ultimately, they did not love God and, therefore, did not love other people. This can be seen most clear in the way they chastised Christ and plotted his death after he displayed compassion to the sick on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-14, Luke 13:10-17).
In contrast, those in Scripture who loved God most put their lives on the line to follow His command to love their neighbors and beyond. In fact, the Great Commandment has deep implications on our response to the Great Commission.
"'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” –Matthew 28:19-20
By applying the same principles of the Great Commandment to the Great Commission, we learn that we won’t make disciples of all nations unless we first fall fully in love with our Savior. Our love for Him is what compels us to live as messengers of His limitless grace and forgiveness among every people group and place (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Today, is your love for God overflowing so that you are compelled to participate in the Great Commission?