The being that deserves to be loved after Allah is definitely the Messenger of Allah. Those who loved the Messenger of Allah most were the Companions. This fact is stated as follows: in the Quran:
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves.” 
It is possible to see many living examples of it in the Companions who were praised by the Quran. They displayed unique and unmatchable examples of self-sacrifice in this way. They did not find it sufficient to say we believed; they put up with all kinds of oppression and torture for the love of the Messenger of Allah. They sacrificed their homeland, properties and lives for this cause. Their love for the Messenger of Allah was more than the compassion of a mother who risks her life to save her child. For instance, when Hz. Ali was asked, “How much did you like the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)?” he said,
“The Messenger of Allah was more beloved to us from our money, property, family, children and parents. We wanted him more than cold water when we were very thirsty and we loved him very much.” 
This love was nothing but the expression of the following hadith of the Messenger of Allah:
“None of you believes till I am dearer to him than the members of his household, his wealth and the whole of mankind.” 
This truth became manifest in the best way in the life of the Companions. Maybe Hz. Umar experienced the first incident about it. Once the Messenger of Allah asked him, “How much do you love me?” He said, “I love you more than anything except my soul.” However, the Messenger of Allah attracted attention to the most crucial point and said, “You will not believe perfectly unless you love me more than your soul.” Having learned how much and to what extent he needed to love the Messenger of Allah, Hz. Umar said, “O Messenger of Allah! I love you more than my soul” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “O Umar! It is perfect now.” Thus, he showed the criterion to Muslims about his love.
The Companions regarded love as the food of their spirits and they believed that their hearts would revive with that love. It was the greatest pleasure for them because they realized it very well that one of the three things that made a person attain the pleasure of belief mentioned in a hadith was “loving Allah and His Messenger more than anything else” . They risked their lives and put up with hardships with that pleasure.
There was no group as devoted to the Messenger of Allah as the Companions. They took him as an example in all their words, acts and deeds. For, the Quran shows the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as the “the beautiful pattern of conduct”. Allah adorned him with high ethics, taught him the best manners and set him as the guide for the humanity. This can only be possible by accepting him as the model and applying what he brought from Allah. This issue is stated as follows: in a verse:
“So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you.” 
On the other hand, the greatest aim for man is to attain the love of Allah. The way of attaining it is being subject to the Messenger of Allah. As a matter of fact, attention is attracted to it in verse 31 of the chapter of Aal-i Imran:
Say: “If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
The most important issue of the Companions who aimed to live under the light of these orders was to show their devotion to him. This devotion was based on listening to him and obeying him.
We see the best example of it in the words of Sa’d bin Muadh before the Battle of Badr:
“O Messenger of Allah! We have believed in you and we believe that what you have brought is true. We give you our covenant to listen to and obey you. O Messenger of Allah! Do as you wish. By Allah, the One Who sent you with the truth, if you were to enter the sea, we would rush into it with you and not one of us would stay behind.”
 al-Ahzab, 6.
 Tarbiyatu’l-Awlad, 2: 1026.
 Muslim, Iman: 69.
 Bukhari, Iman: 9.
 al-Hashr, 7.