I am surprised by the same thing each year as we approach Easter: Jesus’s statement that “by this all men will know you are my disciples.” If I filled in the blank of what “this” is, I would say it must be serving others—feeding the poor, visiting the sick, remembering the prisoners. Or “this” must be an attitude toward life and death, being willing to jump in the flames (of whatever kind) knowing that God will take care of you. Or surely “this” is loving your enemies. These are the marks of a disciple. But that’s not what Jesus said. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). That’s a revolutionary statement – it’s not the doing, it’s the being. And you will be known as a disciple by how you love those who are closest to you. Jesus is interested in changing hearts, so that everything we do flows from love.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (Corinthians 13:1).