Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Jesus wept. The Jews said, ‘See how tenderly He loved him!’”
John 11: 35, 36
“Oh, how He loves me! Oh, how He longs for me.”
Janet Erskine Stuart
Thoughts for Consideration:
Do I comprehend how much Jesus loves me?
In what ways has Christ shown His love for me personally?
“Jesus, the very thought of Thee,
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.”
Bernard of Clairvaux
“He loved us not because we’re lovable, but because He is love.”
C. S. Lewis
“Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong
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, take this heart of mine,
Make it pure and wholly Thine;
On the cross you died for me,
I will love and live for Thee.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.”
Anna B. Warner
There are very few people who grew up going to church who don’t recognize the words above as those of the simple yet profound children’s hymn, “Jesus Loves Me!” It was until I was an adult when I noticed the punctuation to the phrase “Jesus Loves Me!” As you’ll see, every time those three words are used, they are emphasized with an exclamation point.
Frankly, as the years pass, this oft sung hymn needs to be one that we adult-folk sing more than even the children, for as the cares of life increase, we too frequently take what was easy to understand at a young age and complicate it with fancy words and complex theological concepts.
As I was writing out the words to “Jesus Loves Me!” I realized that the song’s author intertwined the great salvation message in the words when she wrote this song so that children could easily memorize and understand it.
I’d like to summarize for all of us non-children the way Anna Warner conveys the gospel message in this song:
Point #1: “Jesus loves me! This I know.”
There’s no question about it. I don’t have to worry that I’m too messed-up or shattered by life. I don’t have to try and work myself into Jesus’ good graces. Instead, without a doubt I can relax in the confidence of the fact that “God so loved the world that He even gave up His only begotten Son” (John 3: 16, Amplified Bible). What a relief! And it is with immense gratitude that we say, “Thank you!”
Point #2: “For the Bible tells me so.”
I don’t have to wonder if the idea of Jesus’ love is a man-made fable tossed out and about. The Bible, from beginning to end, is a complete record telling me about the love which heaven has showered down on earthly mortals. And then, in the very last book of the Bible, the disciple John puts the final topping on everything penned in Scripture by sharing a message which is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ – a final message for the final days of earth’s history.
Point #3: “Jesus loves me! He who died heaven’s gates to open wide.”
What a tremendous blast of great news. Heaven is open to you and me because of Jesus – not because of our human endeavors. Furthermore, heaven’s welcome mat says, “Come in – to all who will enter.”
Point #4: “He will wash away my sin…on the cross You died for me.”
What a comfort to know that I don’t have to depend on the works of my own hands to be clean. I didn’t need to do the scrubbing when Jesus “washed” away my sins. As John tells us, “For God did not send the Son into the world in order to reject or condemn the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe through Him” (John 3: 17, Amplified Bible).
All of these great thoughts are expressed in a little song called “Jesus Loves Me!” However, we don’t have to look any further than the story of Lazarus to witness Jesus’ love in personal action. If you ever thought, “Well, it’s a nice thought that Jesus loves me, but how can I be certain? Really sure?” Then come with me to Bethany. Right outside Lazarus’ grave and watch and see!
This is what I love about the fact that not only did Jesus weep at the grave of His friend Lazarus, but then, all the Jews who were assembled and watching Jesus’ every move, noted that only a person who really loved Lazarus could have had such a reaction. Pastor John Rollefson of The Lutheran Church of the Master, in his comments on our study text, acknowledges that “The Gospel writer informs us that those observing Jesus’ weeping remarked, ‘See how He loved him!’ This is a telling choice of vocabulary, inasmuch as the Greek word for ‘love’ used here is not the verb form of the expected ‘agape’ – selfless, self-giving love of which (the disciple John) is so fond (of using). Rather, Jesus’ love for his friend Lazarus is ‘philia,’ the common, everyday Greek word for ‘friendship’ human ‘affection’ or ‘deep feeling,’ that ordinary human love we have for our friends. It is to this status as friends that Jesus elevates His own disciples.” As John relates Jesus’ own words: “No one has greater love, no one has shown stronger affection than to lay down his own life for (his) friends. You are My friends…I do not call you servants…but I have called you My friends” (John 15: 13-15, Amplified Bible).
Now it has taken me some time in my own life to get my head around the fact that my heavenly Father loves me with such love, the “agape,” selfless love, that He would send His only Son to earth on a rescue mission – purely composed of love so grand it is difficult to comprehend.
But Pastor Rollefson also asks us to think about the fact that when Jesus came to earth, His love was so infused into humanity and into the lives of those He touched that He said, “Oh, by the way, My love is also like the love of a best friend who would do any thing for you including laying down their life if needed.” No wonder those at the grave of Lazarus looked at Jesus and said, “Oh, how He loved His friend Lazarus.” And lest you happen to think that only Lazarus was special enough to warrant that kind of love from Jesus, then you and I need to take a moment today to again sing the words, “Jesus loves me! this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The author of the hymn, “There Is A Green Hill Far Away,” Cecil F. Alexander, reminds us of the abiding love which came from heaven to earth just for you and me:
“O dearly, dearly has He loved,
And we must love Him, too.”
“Love the love which loves you eternally.”
John of Ruysbroeck
Christ Loved You
“Christ loved you before you loved Him,
He loved you when there was nothing good in you.
He loved you though you insulted Him,
though you despised Him and
rebelled against Him.
He has loved you right on, and
never ceased to love you.
He has loved you in your backslidings
and loved you out of them.
He has loved you in your sins,
in your wickedness and folly.
His loving heart was still eternally the same,
and He shed His heart’s blood to prove
His love for you.
He has given you what you need on earth,
and provided for you
an habitation in heaven.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Almighty and eternal God, who hast revealed Thy nature in Christ Jesus Thy Son as love, I humbly pray Thee give me Thy Holy Spirit to glorify Thee also in my heart as pure love, and thus constrain me by Thy divine power to love Thee with my whole soul, and others as myself; that so by Thy grace I may be fulfilled with love, and evermore abide in Thee, and Thou in me, with all joyfulness, and free from fear or distrust; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Christian K.J. Bunsen
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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