By This Everyone Will Know You Are My Disciples

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

By this, we are told.

“This” is the identifying marker of Christ’s disciple.

So, what is “This”?

That you love one another.

It’s not that truth doesn’t matter. It’s just that truth matters when it is revealed, told, and shared in love.

There’s a huge difference. Leonard Sweet says, “Too many Christians want to change the world not because they love the world but because they hate the world.”

If the people we are trying to share Christ’s truth with know and perceive that do so because we hate who they are and what they are, truth may be uttered but that truth will never change anyone. Such truth will only revile and repudiate the very Christ we’re trying to share.

As I listen to the ways Christians speak about BLM, gun control, mask mandates, Trump and the elections, I can’t help but wonder if Leonard Sweet is right.

It’s not that truth is not important. It’s just love is even more important.

Love doesn’t cancel out truth. Love comes alongside truth to make truth even more compelling.

As many of you know, there were multiple Greek words that are translated as love in the English. Out of all the words, the word agape – unconditional love – is a love that we are only capable of living when Christ enables us to do so. Agape is the way God loves us – unconditionally, steadfastly, sacrificially.

Guess what word for love is in our verse of the day. Yup. Agape.

Of course we share Christ’s truth. And, we share Christ’s truth in Christ’s love.

When the church is known for the way she loves, the people who don’t know Jesus and people who disagree with us are ready and open to receive Christ’s truth.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

For a Never-Ending Day

“And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

We come to the last entry in the study of Psalm 23. There’s good reason why this is one of the most beloved psalms and passages in all of the Scripture. What makes this psalm so great has nothing to do with the sheep and everything to do with the greatness of the LORD who is our Shepherd.

There is nothing more important to sheep and their well-being than who their shepherd is. Whether the sheep will be well taken care of, fed, led, and kept all depends on their shepherd.

Who is our Shepherd? None other than the LORD!

The Hebrew for this last entry literally reads, “And I will dwell in the house of Yahweh for a never ending day.”

The key to experiencing the Shepherd’s provisions, guidance, protection is proximity. Get near the Shepherd. Stay close to the Shepherd. Keep your eyes on the Shepherd. Keep your ears attentive to the Shepherd’s call.

Jesus declares in John 10:15, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

In the hills that surround Israel, multiple shepherds allow their herds to graze on the hills. Each herd knows the voice of their shepherd. They will not follow a stranger’s voice. They will only heed their shepherd’s voice.

If you’ve been a parent, you know how this works. You take your toddler to the playground and there are dozens of kids playing. And even though there are dozens of kids playing, giggling, talking, a parent is able to pick out their own child’s voice without even listening for it. The moment a child falls and cries out, a parent is able to pick out not only their child’s cry, but they can tell what kind of hurt cry it is.

So it is with the Good Shepherd and his sheep. Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Do you know the Shepherd’s voice? The only way to get to know his voice is through the daily reading of the Shepherd’s words in the Bible, and to weekly hear God’s word in worship.

The LORD is our Shepherd. As we stay near his presence, we will dwell in his house forever – for a never ending day.


Goodness and Mercy

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6).

Because the LORD is our Shepherd, God’s goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives.

To properly understand what the psalmist meant, I want us to pay attention to three words: goodness, love, follow.


  • The Hebrew word is towb – pronounced as tove
  • This word means good, pleasant. But this word has a heaviness to it that the English word “good” cannot communicate. This isn’t just being happy. The good that this word refers to is a good that is not shaken for it is rooted down, it is heavy, it has substance
  • This is a goodness that is unshakable


  • The Hebrew word is hesed
  • This word means goodness, kindness
  • When we learned this psalm as a young person we would have memorized it as mercy
  • Hesed is one of the most important words in the Hebrew Bible. It refers to God’s goodness and love
  • Unlike human love, God’s love is not finicky. God’s love is constant and consistent
  • We call it steadfast love for there is nothing that can shake God’s hesed, love, goodness, kindness.


  • The Hebrew word is radaph
  • The English translation is way too tepid. The Hebrew word literally means to chase after, to pursue
  • Follow is so weak compared to chase after or pursue

Putting it all together. The psalmist tells us because the LORD is our Shepherd God’s unshakable goodness and God’s steadfast and never-ending love will chase after and pursue us all the days of our lives. As long as the LORD is our shepherd, we will live in God’s unshakable goodness because God’s steadfast love for us. Our Shepherd will chase after us and pursue us to make sure this is our reality.

Wow! That’s great news! Don’t you just love God’s word?!?! It reveals God’s character and nature. And it’s awesome!