Only Jesus was perfectly balanced always, at all times. He certainly loved God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. When he had a busy day ahead of him, Jesus woke up early in the morning before the rest of the disciples were up and he went to a solitary place to pray and have fellowship with His heavenly Father.
Jesus loved his neighbors, the people physically in front of him, near him, those in his immediate sphere of influence, which were the 12 disciples. They did everything together. School was in session in the midst of everyday life together. They moved from town to town together, they enjoyed meals together, they lived together. You could even argue that among the twelve, he focused on 3 and even among the 3, Peter was the main person that Jesus loved and invested in the most.
Jesus made disciples of all nations. Although his focus was the lost sheep of Israel, he did save Gentiles during his earthly ministry. There was the Roman centurion, a Gentile, who came to Jesus out of his love for his servant and whose faith elicits praise from Jesus. Then in Matthew 15, there is a Canaanite woman, a Gentile, who is also praised by Jesus for her faith. Jesus went out of his way to meet a Samaritan woman in John 4. So clearly, Jesus was beginning to make disciples of all nations even in his earthly ministry.
Jesus is the Son of God. He loved God, he loved his neighbor and he made disciples of all nations perfectly, he was perfectly balanced, all 3 legs of the tripod were equally strong.
What about us? This is the most obvious statement that I will make this morning–that is, we are not Jesus. I know you are just floored by the profundity and depth of that statement. We are not Jesus. We are sinners. We are flawed. Therefore, we will be imbalanced many times. Like a pendulum swing, we are going to constantly swing from one extreme to another, emphasizing 1 leg of the tripod over the other two. At times, we are going to feel a need to devote extended time with the Lord and in so doing ignore our neighbors. Other times, we are going to spend all our energy loving our neighbors and neglect our personal relationship with God. Sometimes, we will focus all our attention and effort exclusively on relationships within the church and neglect those outside the church and the ever-present need to make disciples of all nations. Some will feel a need to go on missions but never forge deep relationships in the crucible of conflict and forgiveness and getting our hands dirty.
We will be imbalanced. Nevertheless, I want to fill in the contours of Christian life acknowledging that we will get it wrong many times, but we have to be comfortable living in the tension of these 3 legs of the tripod.
In the Great Commandment, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, Jesus quotes from Deut 6. But if you read Deut 6, you will see that there is no mention of loving neighbor. Why does Jesus quote from Deut 6 about loving God and then add something totally new about loving neighbor? Another way to phrase it–was loving neighbor a part of God’s design from the beginning or did something change along the way?
Same with the Great Commission–was that commandment something newly instated by Jesus right before he ascended or was it mentioned beforehand?
The more I study Scripture, the more I am amazed at how things are deeply connected and seemingly insignificant details are actually pointers to one thing–Jesus Christ. It’s as if God is making a tapestry or a certain color, but there is a thread of a different color that runs throughout the center of this amazing tapestry. And that thread spells out the name–Jesus.
In my humble estimation, Col 1 is no exaggeration.
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Everything points to Jesus. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. That’s how I feel after this past year of studying Scripture. It’s all about Jesus.
And if the Bible is all about Jesus, then the things that Jesus says in the New Testament are not just random statements that are picked out of thin air. There is a thread that runs throughout Scripture from the Old to the New Testament. Therefore, I believe both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, both passages were implied in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament highlights them, he accents them and mentions them more explicitly.
Take for example the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Commandments 1-4 teach us how to love and respect God.
First Commandment – You shall have no other gods before me.
Second Commandment – You shall not make for yourself any idols.
Third Commandment – You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Fourth Commandment – Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Put another way, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Commandments 5-10 show us how to love and respect our fellow man.
Fifth Commandment – Honor your father and your mother.
Sixth Commandment – You shall not murder.
Seventh Commandment – You shall not commit adultery.
Eighth Commandment – You shall not steal.
Ninth Commandment – You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Tenth Commandment – You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The fifth commandment is the transition commandment. The fifth commandment teaches us how to honor and respect our parents. Proper respect toward our fellow man begins in the home. In other words, commandments 5-10 allude to the importance of loving our neighbors.
So starting from the Ten Commandments, loving God is pretty clear, but loving our neighbors is also implied as well.
Here’ another reference to part of the Great Commandment.
Lev 19:18 – 18 “ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
And there are other references we could cite. What about the Great Commission?
The Great Commission is implied in Isaiah 42:6-7.
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Who is the servant? It’s Jesus and through Him and His people, there will be a light that reaches the Gentiles. Sounds like the Great Commission to me.
Another reference is Isaiah 49:5-6.
5 And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Salvation was never meant to be for Israel only. That’s too small a thing, too puny a task for God’s servant. Bringing back and restoring only the tribes of Jacob just won’t cut it. A light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth–sounds very much like the Great Commission to me.
Both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission are implied throughout the Scripture, starting from the OT, and then in the NT, Jesus puts a spotlight on those 2 truths.