Summary: Sermon #5 in the Hymn-writers series is about William Bradbury who wrote the music and chorus for "Jesus Loves Me"
Jesus Loves Me
CHCC: August 10, 2008
What would you guess is the best-known Christian Song all over the world? I bet it’s a toss-up between Silent Night, Amazing Grace … the song we’re going to talk about today. For over a hundred years this has been the first song many parents, teachers, and missionaries teach their children. It has been translated into most major languages … and it is sung by children in every nation.
In fact, my brother Karl first learned this song in Japanese. His Pre-school teacher was from Japan, and she taught the class “Jesus Loves Me” in her language. (Hai eso oingo)
How many of you have been watching the Olympics? There’s no doubt that China knows how to put on a big show, right? But there’s an ugly underside to China. Ever since 1949 … when Mao Tse Tung founded the People’s Republic of China … Christians in China have endured constant persecution. But in spite of all the efforts to eradicate Christianity, the Gospel is alive and well in China.
In fact, I heard a news report this week about a recent survey by a major university in China. It revealed that 12% of the population says they are followers of Christianity. That would be about 156 million people. But that number is possibly twice that large … since so many would be afraid to say they were Christians on an official survey.
After the Communist Government of China kicked out all foreign Missionaries, most contact with China was cut off. A lot of people wondered if Chrisitianity would die out completely. In 1972, a group of American Christians were thrilled to receive an unusual message from contacts in China. The message simply said,
“Be assured that that "this I know" people are doing well!”
The message was not censored by the Chinese authorities because it made no sense to them. But the American Christians understood that “This I know” came from the song missionaries had taught children in China at least twenty years before. All of you probably know the song by heart … sing with me:
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. (vs. 1)
Those lines first appeared inside a novel called Say and Seal. The author of the book, Susan Warner, asked her sister Anna to write a poem that she could use in the book. In the book, this poem was spoken to comfort a little child who was dying. The original poem includes this verse … which is not generally published or sung:
Jesus loves me! Loves me still,
Though I’m very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free
Bled and died upon the tree. (original vs. 4)
In 1862, a Christian musician named William Bradbury came across this poem. He added music and published the poem as a song. And this simple little children’s song eventually became the most famous of all the many songs he ever composed.
The song is so popular that other Religions have copied it. I came across a rendition that says, “Buddha loves me this I know, for the Dharma tells me so.” --- Well, you’d have to look long and hard at the Dharma to find evidence that Buddha loves you. But the Bible is drenched with verses that show God’s love.
Early in the 20th century, a Reporter asked the famous theologian, Karl Barth, to summarize his view of Church Doctrine. Now, Barth had completed 12 thick volumes on church doctrine, so he could have given an impressive Dissertation. He didn’t. Instead, he simply replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Those simple words --- put to an uncomplicated melody --- contain the most profound truth the world will ever hear. You see, the Bible DOES tell us that Jesus loves us … and specifically the Bible shows us that Jesus loves children. Listen to verse 2:
2. Jesus loves me! This I know
As he loved so long ago
Taking children on His knee
Saying, “Let them come to Me.” (vs. 2)
Mark chapter 10 tells about a busy day for Jesus and his disciples when people tried to bring some Children to Jesus so he could bless them. The disciples had a full schedule. They didn’t have time for these bothersome little kids, and they told the parents so.
Mark 10:14-16 says When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.