"JESUS LOVES ME"
"He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him…" (Jn. 14.21)
INTRO.: The story is told of a brilliant professor at Princeton who always left his graduating class with these words, "Gentlemen, there is still much in this world and in the Bible that I do not understand. But of one thing I am certain–‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ And, gentlemen, that is sufficient!" The well-known song from which he quoted is "Jesus Loves Me" (#267 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #274a in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Anna Bartlett Warner who was born Aug. 31, 1820 (some sources give the year as 1827), on Long Island, NY, and raised in New York City where her widower father was a prosperous lawyer who bought a summer house on Constitution Island in the Hudson River near the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, she and her sister Susan spent the summers at their family vacation home named "Good Crag" on Constitution Island.
However, in the panic of 1837, Mr. Warner lost heavily, had to sell their New York City home, and moved with Anna and her older sister Susan permanently to Constitution Island. After their father died, the sisters were left with a meager income and turned to writing popular novels to earn a living so that they might keep their home. One of Susan’s books was entitled Say and Seal, published in 1860. While she was working on it it in 1859, she asked Anna, who seemed to be better at poetry, to provide a poem which was to be spoken by one of the characters, a Bible class teacher named Mr. Linden, to comfort a dying orphan child named Johnny Fax, whom he had taught about Jesus. In this regard, it is interesting that in many older hymnbooks the last line of stanza 3 reads, "Comes to watch me where I die." The book was widely read in its time, but today few people remember it.
However, the poem became famous when this tune (China) was composed for it and the chorus added, probably in 1861, by William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868). The song first appeared in The Golden Shower, a songbook which he published in 1862. Though Anna never achieved the literary fame of her sister, Susan, who is often credited with another children’s hymn, "Jesus Bids Us Shine," she did go on to author a number of novels under the pseudonym "Amy Lathrop," including The Law and the Testimony and Dollars and Cents, produce a biography of her sister, and publish two collections of poems. The two sisters conducted Bible study classes with the cadets at West Point for many years until Susan died in 1885. Anna continued the classes until she died at the age of 95 on Jan. 22, 1915, at Highland Falls, NY. After her death, her home on Constitution Island, called "Good Crag," was willed to the Academy and has now been made into a national shrine.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns (where the chorus was lopped off, probably accidentally, in the original edition and had to be added in words only in the revised edition) edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat
Anna Bartlett Warner’s most enduring monument is this song which reminds of us Jesus’ love.
I. Stanza 1 indicates that Jesus loves us
"Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong."
A. How do we know that Jesus loves us? Because the Bible tells us so; the scriptures tell us everything that we need to know: 2 Tim. 3.16-17
B. And Jesus loves little ones as well as adults because they belong to Him: Mk. 10.13-16
C. Yet, whether we are children or adults, we are weak and He is strong: Matt. 26:41
II. Stanza 2 points out the result of Jesus’ love for us
"Jesus loves me! He who died, Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin, Let His little child come in."
A. He came to open wide heaven’s gate for mankind: Heb. 6.19-20
B. And in order to make this possible, He provides a way to wash away our sins: Rev. 1.5
C. But for us to receive this blessing, we must be converted and become as pure and sinless as little children: Lk. 18.17
III. Stanza 3 tells us that Jesus cares for both adults and children.
"Jesus loves me! Loves me still, Though I’m very weak and ill;
From His shining throne on high Comes to watch me where I lie."
A. Being "weak and ill" may generally refer to the trials and tribulations of life that come our way as part of the "human condition":
B. Of course, Jesus now sits on His shining throne on high: Heb. 8:1
C. Yet, because He was made like us in all things, He understands our sufferings: Heb. 2:17-18
IV. Stanza 4 says that Jesus loves all people far and near.
"Jesus loves the children dear, Children far away or near;
They are safe and in His care, Every day and everywhere."
A. Yes, Jesus does love all people and wants His message of love to be preached to every person under heaven: Mk. 16:15
B. Some objects to statements such as this stanza makes because they say that even children and Christians have accidents or illnesses and die, so God does not always keep them "safe;" but the main point is that whatever happens to us, we can know that God cares for us: 1 Pet. 5:7
C. Knowing that Jesus loves everyone generally should remind us that He loves each one of us specifically, every day and everywhere: Gal. 2:20
V. Stanza 5 reminds us that Jesus will be with us
"Jesus loves me! He will stay Close beside me all the way;
If I love Him when I die, He will take me home on high."
A. Jesus has promised to be with His people even to the end of the age: Matt. 28.20
B. However, one of the conditions of being His people is that we must love Him with all our hearts: Matt. 22.37
C. If we do this, He has also promised that after this life, He will take us to be with Him: Jn. 14.1-3
VI. Stanza 6 affirms how much Jesus loves us
"Jesus, take this heart of mine, Make it pure and wholly Thine.
Thou has bled and died for me; I will henceforth live for Thee."
A. He has bled and died for us: 1 Jn. 3.16
B. Therefore, He wants us to give Him our hearts: Prov. 23.26
C. And He wants us to live for Him: Tit. 2:11-14
CONCL.: Some have objected to singing this song in a worship service because they say it’s a "children’s hymn." However, even adults can be touched with the simple yet profound truth taught throughout the song, including the chorus.
"Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so."
Indeed, even though this song is simple and aimed at children, what greater love could be conceived in the human mind than that, "Jesus Loves Me"?