In his Great Commission to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20), Jesus was speaking directly to the disciples, and also to us. He had spent three years discipling his disciples by teaching them, and now it is time to unleash them into the world. In all his teachings and commands, one stands out as the greatest commandment.
During a confrontation with the religious leaders of his day, Jesus was questioned by one them:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:35-40 NIV
This passage teaches two principles Christians must learn and apply in order to become disciple-making disciplers.
- The first principle, or command, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” It should be obvious to any believer that we are to love God. What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul and mind? This threefold reference to heart, soul and mind means that one should love God with all one’s being.
- The second principle, or command, is co-equal to the first: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, and Jesus further defined “neighbor” as all those around us. If we claim to love God without the same kind of love toward those around us, we are liars. We don’t really love God if we don’t love those around us.
Being a disciple means that we must have a total surrender love for God, a passionate pursuit of Him and His holiness, and at the same time, we must have a sacrificial love for those around us, and that love should be just like we love God. This ideal devotion to God and to others strengthens our calling and efforts to make disciples, as Jesus commands us in his Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Reaching others and making disciples of them is not possible without an intentional, self-sacrificial love for them.