Matthew 22:37 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind” (paraphrased). Now the gospel of Mark adds, “And with all of your strength” (Mk. 12:30). It adds a fourth distinction there. Those four distinctions that are all complimentary to one another, though they do have some very definite distinctions. But here is the part that I want to focus on. Jesus said, “This is the first . . . Commandment” (Mt. 22:38): the one that is first priority to God, first priority in the kingdom, the first emphasis of the Holy Spirit. And He said it is the great commandment. It is the commandment that has the greatest impact on God’s heart, the greatest impact on your heart, the greatest impact on the people to whom we minister.
So Jesus gives this commentary on the great commandment. Now He is quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5, the important point to highlight is that Jesus is giving His own commentary on this passage that He is quoting from Moses. Of course, He is the One who gave it to Moses, but He is adding something that Moses did not receive. He said, “It is the first commandment; it is the great commandment” (Mt. 22:38, paraphrased). This commentary from heaven has been greatly overlooked and dismissed by the Body of Christ throughout history.
What we are committed to doing as individual believers, and even as a spiritual family, is that we want to take those two words, “first” and “great,” and push them to the full extreme of the grace of God, their meaning for our life and for this generation. I want to challenge you in your ministry and your personal life—that instead of reducing them and dismissing them as casual statements, we are going to honor these two descriptive statements of the great commandment, the first commandment.
The First and Great Commandment reflects God’s ultimate purpose for creation, His eternal purpose. From before the foundation of the world, God had a plan in His heart. Before the world was created, He had a “why” behind the “what.” We know what happened: He created the heavens and the earth. This commandment tells us why God did what He did. We know what He did on the cross: He accomplished redemption. This verse tells us why He accomplished redemption. So it gives us the why behind the what of creation and redemption.
In a sentence: God wanted to establish a family for Himself. He wanted to raise up faithful children, sons and daughters who would be loyal to Him in love, and He also wanted to raise up an equally-yoked Bride for His Son who would be His eternal companion. The Father promised His Son an inheritance. That inheritance is a people whom He would totally possess. Jesus’ inheritance involves more than real estate, more than owning the nations, more than government, more than the fact that He controls the nations.
He does own all the real estate of the earth; it has been deeded to Him by the Father. We see insight into that in Revelation 5, that the scroll was given to the Son—the title deed to the earth. So we know the inheritance of the nations: He owns all the land. We know He controls all the governments, but to inherit the nations and to totally possess them means more than that. It means that He would possess the heart of the people in all the nations of the earth. The Father said in Psalm 2, “I will give you the nations—total control over the government. I will give you the ends of the earth, the very people” (v. 8, paraphrased). “You will possess them in their entirety” is the idea here.
Jesus’ inheritance involves the mandatory obedience of all creation. In Philippians 2:10–11, Paul gives us some insight. Paul is actually quoting Isaiah 45:23, where the Father promised the Son in the Old Testament that every knee will bow, every tongue will confess—every knee, every tongue, every demon in hell will bow down their knee in obedience. Every unbeliever, when assigned eternal judgment, will go there in obedience to the word of Jesus.
Obedience of all creation is mandatory, but there is more. God wants more than mandatory obedience. He wants voluntary love. The inheritance of the King is the obedience of all the nations, but the inheritance of the Bridegroom is the voluntary love of all the people in all the nations. So as a king, He receives an inheritance: “Every knee will bow.” As a bridegroom, He receives an inheritance: “Every heart in Your kingdom will love You. All of the redeemed will love You. Not automated, not forced, not programmed; it will be voluntary love. They will choose to love You because they will see Your worth and they will want You.”
The very core of the Bridegroom’s inheritance is different from the inheritance of Jesus as the King. The very core of the Bridegroom’s inheritance is the fact that the people will be equally yoked to Him in love. This idea of being equally yoked in these four ways: all the heart, all the mind, all the soul, and all the strength.
Now the reason the Father wants the people to love Jesus this way, and the reason Jesus wants it is because this is how God loves us. This is the most remarkable thing. I cannot even imagine this. That is biblical because it presses beyond human comprehension. Ephesians 3:19 says it is beyond the comprehension of the human mind without the aid of the Holy Spirit and without the time frame of eternity to unpack it. Even by the Holy Spirit we only get a little bit of it, but for the ages, forever and ever and ever, we will continue to understand this—that God loves us. Can you imagine? God loves us with all of His mind. How vast is God’s mind? He loves us with all of His heart, all of His strength. Imagine the strength of God.
Now that will take the supernatural power of God to do this, of course. It takes God to love God. A fundamental principle of Scripture is, it takes the power of God for us to love God. God knows that. Romans 5:5 says that God has promised us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to empower us to love Him—that He would pour love into our heart. This would involve several different dimensions of love.
Think of the love of God as having four dimensions. Number one: the revelation that God loves us. The Holy Spirit pours that knowledge into our heart. Number two: the ability to love God back. That is the second dimension. Number three is the ability to love ourselves in the love of God, by the love of God. Jesus said, “You will love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mt. 22:39, paraphrased). The reason so many do not love their neighbor well is because they do not love themselves well. You will never love your neighbor in greater quality than you love yourself in the grace of God. That is a concept opposed to promoting our carnality. I am not talking about that; we are to deny that dimension of ourselves, our carnal lusts. We are to see who we are in God’s eyes, and agree with it instead of dismissing it. As we love ourselves in the grace of God, we will then, in the overflow, love others, which is the fourth dimension.
So, first, the Holy Spirit pours out the revelation that God loves us, then awakens our heart to love God back. Then it overflows and we love ourselves in the overflow of our exchange with God’s heart. Then we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is all supernatural. It takes the operation of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the greatest gift and work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life: to pour love into the heart in these four ways.
Right before Jesus went to the cross in the upper room, He prayed what is called “the High Priestly Prayer.” This is the crescendo statement—John 17, the great prayer of Jesus. Here it is, Jesus praying for the saints for twenty-six verses. There is nothing like it in the Bible—Jesus praying for His bride. In the final verse, the volcanic explosion in which this prayer ends (and then Jesus goes to the garden after this), He says, “Father, I have declared Your name to them for this reason, that the love with which You loved Me would be in them” (John 17:26, paraphrased). In other words, “That they would love Me in the quality that You love Me, in the same measure.” Beloved, this is inconceivable, except for the grace of God. Before God is finished working in us, which He will continue on forever—that is a more accurate way to say that God’s work will continue in us forever—we will love Jesus in the way the Father loves Jesus.
Beloved, that is being equally yoked in love. All over the nations, throughout history, God has been selecting and training a Bride. God’s purpose is going to come to a crescendo and a place of maturity before the Lord returns. Beloved, I am talking about people in their natural bodies before the resurrection. It says in Revelation 19, “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and the bride . . .” (Rev. 19:7, paraphrased)—we are talking about the Bride on the earth, not the Bride with resurrected bodies. There is a generation that responds in a way where they are prepared—a prepared Bride for a worthy Son.
What a grand plan. The Father has a worthy Son, and He is raising up a prepared Bride, a ready Bride. I can assure you, in the generation the Lord returns—in the generation in which the Bride is made ready by voluntary love, by the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit—that the Holy Spirit will restore the first commandment to first place. Beloved, that is what is on the Holy Spirit’s agenda at this time in history, though right now, at this moment, there is not such a large percent of the body of Christ that is focused on this agenda. But before the Lord returns, this will be the premier agenda of the Holy Spirit worldwide.
As forerunners, what you are saying in your heart is, “Lord, I want to do that which You are going to be universally emphasizing worldwide in a minute from now.” Of course, with the Lord a minute might be a decade or two. Who knows? Maybe a little bit longer; maybe a little bit shorter.
“I want to lay hold of it now.” That is what a forerunner does. Forerunners get hold of it one short step ahead of the universal emphasis of it—of the Holy Spirit to the Body of Christ worldwide. You can be sure of one thing: the Church will be a prepared Bride before the second coming. For those who have ears to hear, in Deuteronomy 6:4–5, where Jesus is quoting this passage from, it says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God” (paraphrased). Jesus is really actually interpreting that: “Hear, Israel; pay attention, he who has ears to hear” (paraphrased. It’s as if He says, “Let Me tell you. Let Me give you a hint: it is more than important. It is the first and the greatest of all the commandments.” He is commenting on the call to hear and to pay attention.
I mention the fourfold love because I am laying a groundwork to understand the first commandment, because not in any way does it undermine the first expression of this first dimension. The second dimension of this revelation of God’s love for us, and then an impartation of love back to God by the Holy Spirit, will overflow in love for ourselves and love for our neighbor, both believers and unbelievers.
Now, why do we love being loved so much? I mean, we love to be loved. There is something about us that we love it. How many of you love to be loved? Well, it is more than that. You love to love. There is nothing more exhilarating than loving and being loved. Beloved, that is our inheritance forever and ever and ever. The reason we love it so much, both receiving it and being exhilarated and giving ourselves to it, is because we were created that way in the image of God. God is love; we were created in His image.