The enormity of this Command is of such scope and magnitude that it is impossible to overstate. If Love is the first Command, this surely represents one of the most important dimensions of Love itself. Indeed, unity with our fellow man is one of Love's significant visible expressions. If we would "Be righteous," this is where it begins.
I would like to pass on a truth that has been wonderfully illuminating and helpful to me as I have experienced more through the years of "dying with Christ." It comes from my spiritual and literary mentor George MacDonald (1824-1905), 19th-century pastor, theologian, and novelist.
It has been mentioned before that Jesus occasionally uses overstatement and exaggeration to get his point across. This is obviously again the case here. No one seriously believes this Command is to be obeyed literally. None of Jesus' own disciples, to our knowledge, obeyed this Command as it stands, nor did Jesus expect them to.
The idea of a progressively dawning revelation of sonship in the life of Jesus, and the notion that He could have made different choices than He did, will undoubtedly cause some to squirm.
The Commands of Jesus seem to come in two broad categories: Those that are straightforward and relatively simple to obey...and those that are impossible to obey.
Here is the crux of attempting to grasp the enormity of what Jesus did. All real wills can go in either direction. They don't have to make the right choice. There is no coercion. That is the definition of free will. It is truly free to choose.
There are fewer more perplexing, misunderstood, misappropriated Commands in the Gospel than this. How many disappointments have been based on grandiose prayers for healing, for financial provision, for restored relationships, and for thousands of other good and worthy things... that have not happened? We have all experienced the ache, frustration, and confusion of unanswered prayer.
Jesus was a man, not an angel. He possessed a will that was his own. He possessed the capacity of choice that was human. And He won His Sonship, and our salvation, by exercising that choice.
It is sometimes difficult to know how to live in the practical reality of Jesus' admonition in the latter half of Matthew 6: Consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. They neither sow nor reap, yet your heavenly father cares for them. So don't worry about what you shall eat or drink. We are all familiar with his words. But do they not often sound just a little too idealistic?
Theologians have devised all sorts of contorted ways to explain the incarnation that make little sense to anyone but themselves. But I see only two possible ways to account for the astounding fact that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ.