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The 2 Other Commands of Jesus

by Dennis Pollock

Nearly every Christian is familiar with the two “great commandments” which Jesus gave, and described as the fulfillment of all the “law and the prophets.” They were given as a result of a man coming to Him and asking which of all the law’s commandments was the greatest of all. Jesus obliged him and then He went on to give a “bonus” commandment, the number two commandment. His words were these:

‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

According to Jesus, to love God with all our heart and all that we are is the ultimate command and the supreme act of humankind. There is nothing we can ever do that can match that, and without this passionate, all-consuming love for God, nothing we can do will ever make up for our lack in this area. But our Lord wanted us to recognize that this did not excuse us from loving people. He put it about as strong as it is possible to say: we must love others and prioritize them in the same way we already do ourselves. Love is at the heart of a relationship with God. Without love for God and people, we haven’t even reached first base. We have, in fact, struck out.

The Other Two

But in this little study I want to talk about two other “great commands” of Jesus. Some might argue that there is no room for any others, but I beg to differ, since these other two commands come also from the mouth of Jesus, and in their own context seem every bit as paramount as the two we have mentioned. The love commandments deal with how we are to behave and even feel.

But the two other commands are not about behavior or feeling; they are all about position. They tell us not what to do, but where we need to be. And they are targeted for two distinctly separate people. One relates to those outside of Christ and the other to those who belong to Him. Let’s consider the first: the command to those who have not yet tasted the grace of Jesus in their lives. The Bible sometimes calls such people “sinners” but in our modern politically correct society we are uncomfortable with the term. But whether you label them sinners, unregenerate, seekers, or “those who have not yet crossed the line of faith,” they are essentially without God and without hope at this point in their lives.

The First Positional Command

To these people, Jesus gives the command, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He is telling those who do not know Him that their location is all wrong. They are far from Him, but they need to come to Him. He is saying, “Change your position and you will change your life – I will give you rest!”

This has always been true and always will be. Sinners, those unredeemed by Jesus, are living in a terrible and a dangerous place. With their sins unforgiven, the wrath of God rests on them wherever they go. When they get up in the morning, as they eat their breakfast, as they work throughout the day, and when they go to bed that night, they live in a perpetual state of enmity toward God. They live in the wrong place – outside of Christ and apart from God. And should they die in that place they are in for worse trouble yet. And so Jesus tells them, “Come to Me.” This is their only solution and it really is the only command that they need to worry about. Many sinners have all kinds of hang-ups, issues, bad habits, and emotional baggage, but the first and only truly important command from God to them is: “Come to Jesus.”

This is not only a word from Jesus to the lost people of this world, but it is the message of the church to the world as well. In the book of Revelation we read:

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Essentially, this is what the entire Bible is saying to the human race – to every African, Asian, Hispanic, American, and everyone else. “Come to Jesus – take the water of life freely.” There is a story in the Old Testament which represents the need of men and women to do this. It happened when the Syrian army was besieging the Israeli city of Samaria. As the siege lasted for many days, the Jews began to run out of food. Soon they were near starvation. There were four lepers who were sitting near the gate of the city. As the siege went on day after day their situation became desperate. With their food nearly gone and the Syrian army just outside the city, there seemed no solution for these miserable men. The Bible tells us:

They said to one another, “Why are we just sitting here waiting to die? If we go into the city, we’ll die of starvation, and if we stay here we’ll die! So come on, let’s defect to the Syrian camp! If they spare us, we’ll live; if they kill us – well, we were going to die anyway.”

By the time they arrived at the camp of the Syrians, the Lord had caused the Syrians to hear a loud sound of many chariots and a great army advancing on them and they fled for their lives, leaving all their food and possessions behind. The lepers went from being starving paupers to wealthy men in one day’s time. It turned out that getting up from their little spot by the gate where they were starving and moving forward was the best thing they could have possibly done.

So it is with the sinner. As they go about their business and live out their lives, they are truly perishing. But when they arise from their place of death and come to Jesus, who is the Source of life, they will receive riches and grace beyond anything they could ever imagine. Jesus’ word to them is essentially: “Why sit there until you perish? Change your location. Come to Me and receive life.”

The Second Positional Command

While the sinner’s great need and God’s great commandment to him is to come to Jesus, the “location” commandment for the believer is somewhat different. After all, he or she has come to Jesus. There is no point demanding that someone come to Jesus, when they have done so ten years ago. It would be like commanding a man who lives in Dallas to pack up his things and move to… Dallas. He would think you were crazy, demanding that he do something he was already doing!

Jesus’ command to the Christian, the ones who have trusted in Him and received His salvation, is not to come but to “abide.” To believers He commands:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:1-4)

The word abide simply means remain. Jesus is saying to His followers: “You have come to Me. Now remain in Me. Don’t go anywhere – stay in your present position.” Jesus is dealing with the issue of spiritual distraction. He also speaks of this in His parable about the seed planted in four types of soil: rocky, shallow, thorny, and good. Concerning the seed planted in thorny soil He says, “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18,19). Some people seem to show great love for Jesus in their initial walk with Him, but somehow they get distracted and find their spiritual life swallowed up and neutralized by life’s worries and the pursuit of material things. As a result, they seem to wither spiritually and never produce the kind of fruit in their lives that God desires.

“He Who Dwells in the Secret Place of the Most High…”

For every one of us, our only safe position is in Jesus Christ. He is truly that “secret place of the Most High” which Psalms speaks of, and when we position ourselves in Him we truly dwell under that safe, secure, and comforting shadow of the Almighty. Our abiding in Jesus is done through a dependent faith in Him and a consistent focus on Him. You cannot say you are abiding in Jesus when you rarely think of Him, never speak of Him, never read of Him, and never talk to Him. Over and over the Scriptures warn us about the danger of letting our faith slip. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, it is evident that he had been greatly concerned about their spiritual state. He knew they were suffering much persecution and he feared that some were falling away from the faith. He writes: “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:5). He feared these folks might be drifting away from their place of abiding in Jesus. But his messenger gave him good news, and he wrote, “Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love…” (1 Thessalonians 3:6).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews was also concerned about the spiritual state of the believers to whom he wrote. He emphasizes: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Hebrews 2:1), and in another place declares: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). Some suggest that it is not even possible for believers to stray from Christ, but if that is true, the New Testament writers never seemed to figure that out. They were constantly warning believers to stay faithful. Paul insists: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Jesus compares Himself to a grapevine, and labels us as His branches. He tells us that we cannot bear fruit, or even live without staying attached to Him, but promises us that if we do abide in Him, our prayers will be answered, and we will bear much fruit. Fruitful Christians are not necessarily the smartest or the most talented or the best-looking. They are those who stay put – they come to Christ and they stay right there. No change of location needed or wanted. It matters not whether we live in Little Rock, Arkansas, Liverpool, England, Lagos, Nigeria, or Saint Petersburg, Russia. What matters is that we live in Christ!

All About Location

There is a saying related to property, real estate, and business, which says that success or failure is all about “location, location, location.” The idea is that if you start a business in some out of the way place, even though you may strive for excellence, the obscurity or poor surroundings of your location is going to make it difficult for you to succeed. There is probably a lot of truth to that, but in spiritual matters it is far truer. Whether you live forever or perish eternally, whether you find joy and peace in God or live in loneliness, misery, and guilt all your life, whether you live out your days with meaning, purpose, and joy, or in a meaningless frustration – all will depend upon location. To be in Christ is joy, peace, and success. To live outside of Jesus Christ is failure and shame. And to die in Christ is the ultimate success. And so Jesus says to the sinner, “Come to Me,” and to the believer, “Abide in Me.”


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