Posted by: rcottrill | August 6, 2018

Jesus Loves Me

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Words: Anna Bartlett Warner (b. Aug. 31, 1827; d. Jan. 22, 1915)
Music: William Batchelder Bradbury (b. Oct. 6, 1816; d. Jan. 7, 1868)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Susan and Anna Warner lived near the military academy at West Point, and they led regular Bible studies for the cadets. The sisters were so highly respected that, when they died, they were buried with full military honours. According to Hymnary.org, Anna Warner’s hymn has been published in 530 hymn books over the last century and a half.

Love. It’s likely a word we use often, in one way or another. I love ice cream, I love football. I love my wife. I love God. But are all of those the same thing? They’re likely different in intensity and importance. But aren’t they also distinct in their very nature?

Some form of the word love is used hundreds of times in the Bible. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that many of our traditional hymns and gospel songs talk about it–or surprising that we’ve dealt with such songs many times in these articles.

But the one we’ll look at today may well be the most familiar children’s hymn in the English language. It was first sung by a man who never existed–to a child who never existed either! This remarkable circumstance came about as follows.

In 1860, author Susan Warner began work on a new novel. In it, a Sunday School teacher she called John Linden goes to visit one of his students named Johnnie Fax. The boy is critically ill, and dying–an all too common reality in those days. But Mr. Linden holds Johnnie gently in his arms and tries to comfort him, reminding him of the love of the Saviour. At that point, Susan wanted the teacher to sing a song they’d learned in Sunday School. But what could he sing?

She turned to her sister Anna for help. In response to Susan’s request, Anna Bartlett Warner penned the now well-known hymn, Jesus Loves Me. The text is simple, but its message is powerful.

“Jesus loves me.” That’s a wonderful truth. But the critical question is: How do I know that? How can I be certain? Is it just a myth or a legend? A wish or a maybe? No! I can be sure it’s true because the trustworthy Word of the living God says so.

“All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Pet. 1:24-25).

The Bible tells us God (the Father) loved the world so much that He “gave” His Son to save us (Jn. 3:16). The word “gave” is significant. It means He delivered Him up, He surrendered Him–to be abused and slain by sinful men. And the Son “gave” (surrendered) Himself to this, in submission to His Father’s will, in love for us. Love involves an unselfish, sacrificial giving of oneself to another.

“The Son of God…loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).”

“Our Lord Jesus Christ…gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Gal. 1:3-5).

“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25).

And His love for us prompts our love in return, for which He is to be our Pattern. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I Jn. 4:19). “Walk [live your daily life] in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us (Eph. 5:2).

CH-1) Jesus loves me–this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong–
they are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

CH-2) Jesus loves me–He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.

Clearly, this was written as a children’s hymn (“little ones”). But it has been a blessing to many adults too, over the years. Jesus loves us, each one, with an enduring love. God’s Word proclaims it to be true, and we answer with love in return.

Questions:
1) What are some characteristics of the love of Christ we can see in His years of earthly ministry?

2) How can you show the love of Christ to someone today?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


Responses

  1. My goodness. I never applied the “little ones” to children. It has always been me and all who hear HIM! Although HE loved me unto salvation at nine, HE is still loving me in my 80s. Praise HIM

    • You’re right. This is a song for everyone because the Lord’s love is for everyone. Even so, the original conception was that it was sung by children–even in the story it comes from, Johnny Fax is a child.


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