Matthew 28:18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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."
Literally translated, the highlighted section says, “Teach them to guard and treasure all that I commanded you to do.”
Many times we think that this is an overwhelming task. We see all that Jesus taught and the length of the gospels thinking that we will never be able to teach others all that Jesus commanded. Surprisingly, though, Jesus only ever talked about three commands. When asked about the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus responded in Mark's gospel as follows.
Mark 12: 30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'31 "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
These two commands are said elsewhere to sum up the entirety of the Law and Prophets. Jesus places the love of God and the love of our fellow man above all else. There is only one time that Jesus himself gives a command to his followers. We find it in John's gospel recorded in two separate chapters.
John 15: 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 "You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing ; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 "This I command you, that you love one another.
All of these passages speak of Agape love: to be fond of, also a choice not necessarily a feeling-hospitality/welcome, to be contented with. In my view, Jesus commands us to find contentment and fulfillment in God, choosing to serve those around us with kindness/fondness, giving special attention to our fellow believers.
It may seem too simplistic, but remember that Jesus is talking to fishermen and tax collectors and regular guys. He intended them to be able to fulfill this mission, and he expects that we are able as well.
We can start with those basic commands to love, then move on to the specific teachings of Jesus which fall under those commands: love your enemy, don’t slander your brother, don’t lust after women, fulfill your marriage vows, just be honest without having to make pledges and oaths, forgive and stop trying to get revenge, don’t take advantage of needy people, do good but don’t flaunt it, find your delight in heavenly things not temporary things of the earth.
When we look closely at all of Christ's teachings, they exemplify the living out of those commands to love God, love others, and love our fellow believers.
We have to be careful not to pick and choose what we teach or what we guard and keep ourselves. We like to pick out things that make us look good and others look bad.
If we are forgiving and gracious with our enemies, but we struggle with temptations of the flesh, we are likely to focus on forgiveness and brush past the teaching that lust is on the same level as adultery. We can’t do that, though. Jesus said to teach everything he commanded. We don't get to pick and choose to which areas of our lives we apply his commands of love.
And the command is not simply to obey and teach others to obey, but to keep and treasure and guard closely what Jesus taught. We are to treasure Jesus’ commands. Because they bring life and fullness and peace and they strengthen relationships. Obedience is a drudge, treasure is exciting! His commands are precious; his teachings help us to see much of our lives from God’s perspective.
So, our task is to live out the Mission, “Go, and as you are on your way invite all kinds of people to follow and learn from Jesus, pickling them in the very essence of God, teaching them to treasure all my commands.” But we don't do it alone. All of this is followed by the promise “Surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Jesus is on our team. The Holy Spirit is at work in us transforming us as we follow Jesus, empowering us to serve others and we have the support of our fellow believers to encourage us to keep Living the Mission.