This I know.
Ben Franklin said there are only two absolute certainties in this life----death and paying taxes. Evidently Ben didn't know what I know. It's true, life is often unpredictable, a surprise around every corner. But, even as a small child I knew that Jesus loved me. I learned it in Beginner's Sunday School at West Greenville Baptist Church. Our teachers, Wilma and Adger Williams taught it to us, every verse, and we sang it every Sunday. They were the memorable lyrics of Jesus Loves Me written in 1859 by Anna Bartlett Warner to a musical score by William Batchhelder Bradbury. For generations it was a song almost everyone knew about the Savior we could all know.
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.
Jesus loves me! He who died,
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Jesus loves me! loves me still,
When I'm very weak and ill;
From His shining throne on high,
Comes to watch me where I lie.
Jesus loves me!
He will stay,
Close beside me all the way;
He's prepared a home for me,
And some day His face I'll see.
Reflecting on this song 60+ years later alerts me to the strong theology that streamed through the verses. Adger Williams taught us that Jesus Loves Me presents the simple truths of the Christian Gospel. I vividly remember the points that he made when he instructed us about the song ---
1. Christ's love for us is something we can know with absolute certainty.
Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a
sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:2, ESV
May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height
and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be
filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3: 18-19, ESV
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren.
1 John 3: 16, ESV
Later I learned that the Greek verb ginosko means to know completely. At an early age we were learning the certainty of Christ's love for us.
2. Christ died an atoning death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ
lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Galatians 2: 20, ESV
So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
Hebrews 9:20, ESV
Christ's vicarious death is central to the Gospel we believe and preach. Adger and Wilma Williams wanted us to know and understand the reason for his death on the cross.
3. Christ was resurrected and sits at the throne in heaven.
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat
down at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19, ESV
Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has
taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
Hebrew 8: 1, ESV
Once again, the empty tomb is another of the Gospel essentials. I'm not sure we could grasp the glories of his resurrection at such an early age. Of Course, I'm not sure I can totally comprehend them today. But, I'm glad those fine teachers included the mystery of Jesus being raise from the dead in our early years of learning.
4. Christ's presence will abide with us forever.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28: 20, ESV
For where two or three are gathered in my name, There I am among them,
Matthew 18: 20, ESV
Knowing that Jesus would stay close beside me all the way has been a sustaining truth my entire life.
5. One day we will be with Jesus in heaven.
At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the
Revelation 4:2, ESV
Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior
Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13, ESV
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus,
crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of
God he might taste death for everyone.
Hebrew 2:9, ESV
It may have been our first lesson in heaven and eternal life. No, we did not fully understand it. But it has been a source of blessing and hope for these 60+ years.
Maybe it's another dilemma of our advanced age, but Harriet and I both prefer contemporary Christian music in worship. Reading words from the screen lifts our heads for worship rather than having our face lowered reading from a hymnbook. But, just the same, the great hymns of our faith have taught us the essentials of our belief system and must remain in our worship and discipleship. Like the early songs of Beginners Sunday School, for the most part, they instruct us in the essentials of what we believe.
There's a tale, perhaps an urban legend, about theologian Karl Barth. Barth was a prolific Christian author, having penned hundreds of publications. In 1962 he made his only visit to America. After a theological presentation one day a student asked him to summarize the spiritual content of the millions of words he had authored. Barth is said to have replied, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so". Profound truth learned at his mother's knee.
Hey, sing it! Teach it to your children and grandchildren. It will give them more truth that Sponge Bob, Square Pants.