Summary: Based on the old hymn, this series answers the question, "Does Jesus Care?" It is a five part series, and answers the four questions posed by each of the hymns four stanzas.
Do you remember pot-bellied pigs? They were one of the passing fads from the 1980s – that decade when all of us had big hair, big glasses and really fuzzy sweaters. Some of us also had pot-bellied pigs.
Around our house, pigs were for eating and not for petting. The “pet pig craze” never caught on at the Weller farm, but for millions of Americans like Dale Riffle, it did. Riffle bought a cute little Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Rufus. The breeder claimed that the pig was quite smart, and would only grow to be about forty pounds. As it turned out, the breeder was half-right: the pig was quite smart.
But it soon grew to be over 150 pounds. And in spite of Rufus’ refusal to use the litter box, and his hunger for wallpaper, carpet and drywall, Riffle refused to get rid of Rufus. So he sold his suburban home and moved with Rufus to a five acre farm in West Virginia.
Soon, Riffle started taking in unwanted and abandoned pigs, and before long, the guy was living in hog heaven. There are currently 180 residents on his farm. According to an article in US News and World Report, they snooze on beds of pine shavings. They wallow in mud puddles. They soak in plastic swimming pools and listen to piped-in classical music. And they never need fear that one day they’ll become bacon or pork chops. There’s actually a waiting list of unwanted pigs trying to get a hoof in the door at Riffle’s farm.
Dale Riffle told the reporter, “We’re all put on earth for some reason, and I guess pigs are my lot in life.” It amazes me that someone would want to devote their life to caring for a bunch of outcast, lazy old pot-bellied pigs?
Here is something that is even more amazing to me: that an infinite, perfect, majestic and holy God would care for an insignificant, sinful, sometimes openly rebellious and indifferent people like you and me. God cares about you and me – that is incredible to me.
And yet, I think there are times when all of us wonder if God really does care, aren’t there? Has there ever been a time when you cried out to God and waited for an answer, and yet the answer didn’t seem to come?
You’re not alone. As faithful a man as Israel’s King David sometimes wondered where God was.
Psalm 10:1 (NIV)
Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Psalm 13:1-2 (NIV) For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Isn’t it amazing that someone like David wondered where God was? Isn’t it reassuring to know that if you’ve ever wondered if Jesus cared, you’re not alone?
We’re going to spend the next four weeks answering that question. And while we don’t know who was the first person to ask that question, we do know who the first person to put it to music was. He was a Methodist Pastor named Frank Graeff. Graeff lived around the turn of the century and published the hymn, Does Jesus Care? in 1905.
For the next four weeks, we’re going to look at the four different verses of that hymn and ask the question, Does Jesus Care?.
The first verse wonders, “does Jesus care when I’m depressed?” We’ll be answering that question next week. Then on September 14, we’ll ask, “does Jesus care when I’m afraid?” On the 21st, we’ll answer the question, “does Jesus care when I’m a failure.” This is maybe my favorite verse of this hymn. It is a question that, maybe we all haven’t asked or verbalized, but it is one that I suspect we have often felt. Where is Jesus when we’re struggling with some temptation? Where is He when we’ve tried to resist, but failed? Does He care? Then on the last week, we’ll look at the fourth verse of this song and ask, “does Jesus care when I am grieving?”.
I hope you’ll be here for all four weeks of this teaching, because the answer to that question – Does Jesus Care? – is something that we all need to hear. And one other thing. I hope you’ll invite someone to come with you.
Now today is your lucky day, because I’m going to give you the answer to all four questions right up front. Did you ever have a teacher who, during the lecture, would tell you, “this is going to be on the test.”? It’s good to have the answers ahead of time, isn’t it. Well, today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you the answer to the question, “Does Jesus care?”