Summary: The essence of Christianity can be summed up in the children’s hymn, "Jesus Loves Me, This I know." This sermon examines this song, phrase by phrase.
Out of the Mouth of Babes
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger (Psalm 8:2).
IT WAS A COLD JANUARY DAY, a good to visit the mall and engage in one of my favorite pastimes---people watching, while my wife engaged in one of her favorite activities---shopping! I was sitting on a bench with some other lonesome-looking men, who were also waiting for their wives, when I heard the most beautiful song my ears have ever had the privilege of entertaining. I turned to see the origin of this sweet melody when my eyes fell upon a little girl of four or five. There she was, walking with her tiny hand in her mother’s, oblivious to her surroundings, singing at the top of her lungs, “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; yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.” Over and over she repeated the lyrics to the amusement of the mall shoppers, totally uninhibited by their stares. It was quite a moment. Innocence on display. Or should I say, faith exposed. It is true, out of the mouth of babes, God has ordained praise.
This experience reminded me of something I once read about Karl Barth, the renowned German theologian who dominated the theology of the 20th century. In 1962, six years before his death, Barth made his only visit to the United States. One evening he lectured at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. After the lecture he met with students in the coffee shop for some informal dialogue. A student asked him if there was any way he could summarize his vast theological findings. He wanted to know what Barth thought was the essence of the Christian faith. The great theologian paused for a moment. No doubt the others waited for some profound, intellectual insight. Then Barth answered deliberately, “Yes, I can summarize in a few words my understanding of the Christian faith. Let me put it this way: ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”
This was an absolutely overwhelming moment for his hearers. There sat the most renown theologian of the age expressing his final conclusion in words he learned at his mother’s knees. A little girl in a mall and a theological giant had something in common---they both understood the essence of Christianity. We are reminded in the Bible to become as children so that we can enter the kingdom. The core of our faith may be understood in the simplicity of a childhood song.
John Wesley in his young days took his sermons and read them to an old domestic servant. He told her to stop him every time he said something she didn’t understand. His manuscripts became masses of changes, alterations, erasures, and additions. But they were able to be understood, and that was his main concern. The childhood hymn, “Jesus Loves Me” is also easily understood, so much so that its message may be overlooked.
Jesus loves me this I know. Stated more simply, “I know Jesus loves me.” One of the foremost human needs is to know that we are loved. When someone says, “I love you,” something wonderful happens inside. Self-doubt, despair, and loneliness are chased away. Our failures are covered and a feeling of self-acceptance sweeps over us. To be loved, “warts and all,” is a blessing indeed. And how much more a blessing to be loved by God Himself! He looked beyond our faults and saw our need. He set His love upon us. He went to extreme lengths to demonstrate it, even the cross.
For the Bible tells me so. I have yet to hear a sinner sing this song from his heart. Even though it is true for him, he feels a certain reluctance to declare it for sin is in the way. In fact, the unbeliever asks, “How can one know beyond any doubt that God loves them?” He wants to debate and put down those who sing this simple, yet profound song. The reason the Christian knows he is loved is because the Bible declares it to be so. This word was not found somewhere under a rock. It was not dictated to David or Moses or Paul. Rather, it was “breathed upon” holy men of old who in turn preserved it and passed it on to succeeding generations.
The Bible is not a science text, although it does contain a great deal of scientific information. It is not an encyclopedia, although it does include a vast amount of knowledge on almost any subject. It is not an answer book or textbook on psychology, but in its pages are principles by which we can live happier and healthier lives. The Bible has as its primary goal the revelation of God’s nature and plan for humanity and its central message is “God loves His creatures, even His sinning creatures.” And those who believe it have embraced this central message with passion.