By Jesus’ day it was understood that all of the ordinances, commandments and decrees revealed to Moses could be summarized in two commandments. The first, and great one is to love God with all your mind, heart, soul and strength. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. He added nothing to these teachings. Nor did he subtract anything from them. His own testimony was that he came to fulfill them. Knowing these things is one thing, fulfilling them quite another.

Fulfilling them requires submission to the will of God as we live out our lives. This is why Jesus taught his disciples to pray that the Father’s kingdom come and his will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven. In heaven God alone is worshipped and his will obeyed. On earth the story is quite different. On earth we humans are adept of making idols of virtually anyone and everything and worshipping them as our gods. We make idols of our parents, of our spouses, of our clan, of our race, of our class, of our wealth, of our fame, of our nation, of our science, of our business, and of our religion. On and on it goes. That is why Jesus said that in order for the reign of God to draw near to us we must repent, that is go through the crisis of renouncing the idols we are attached to, and believe the good news that God alone is worthy of worship.

Consequently Jesus’ teaching is often received as very hard and harsh. With respect to parents he said call no man father for there is only one Father in heaven. Or, when his mother and brother came to bring him back home when he began his public ministry he said, who is my mother, and brother, and sisters? Those who do the will of my Father in heaven are my mother, and brother, and sister. And the same is true of all of the other idols of our making. For example, as much as one tends to unwittingly idolize the family, he will also do the same for the race and nation. So Jesus was once asked the question, who is my neighbor? In other words, who is that I am mandated to love in order to fulfill the will of God? In response Jesus told a parable of a man who was beaten and left for dead by thieves beside the road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Two travelers passed him by who were both of the same race and religion. A third traveler who was of a different race and religion stopped and cared for him. He was the true neighbor to the man and fulfilled the will of God. That doesn’t happen on earth very often, but when it does, it mirrors heaven.

And Jesus was not all about teaching in the sense of imparting information, however wise. In fact, the accounts of his ministry are more about his deeds. His contemporaries recognized that he was doing extraordinary things that could not be done unless God was with him. He healed the sick, he opened the eyes of the blind, he forgave sinners, he cast out unclean spirits, he raised the dead, he walked on water, and he multiplied loaves and fish to feed the multitudes. We see these things as unusual. He did not. In fact, he said his disciples would do greater things than these. He saw them as the things people do when they are submissive to the will of God and thus become a channel for the power of God