Words for Thought…Jesus Loves Me

May 25th, 2018 | Category: Columns, Words for Thought
By Shirley Morgenthaler

A few years ago I read an article reporting an interview with Billy Graham. Dr. Graham was asked what was, in his opinion, the most important verse in the Bible.

The interviewer wanted to know what the summary of all of Dr. Graham’s study and research could tell the public. Billy Graham was by this time primarily retired and greatly limiting his public appearances.

Dr. Graham thought for a moment, then looked at the interviewer. He smiled and said, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” The words of this famous children’s song summarized, for Dr. Billy Graham, everything taught in the Bible. Since the recent death of Billy Graham brought his name and his legacy into public conversation again in for some weeks, I wanted to share these words as the Words for Thought for this issue.

As a ritual from my childhood, I sing my prayers each night. Some of those songs are the same songs I prayed as a child. Now the Light Has Gone Away, Dear Father in Heaven, I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb, and Jesus Loves Me are songs of worship I sing every night as a part of my bedtime time with God. I sing, think, pray, and meditate. In recent months, my meditation has centered around Jesus Loves Me. That meditation began soon after the preschool and kindergarten children from my congregation’s school sang this song at the beginning of a worship service. They sang two verses. The second verse began with “Jesus loves me, he who died heaven’s gates to open wide.” Good so far. Then came “He will wash away my sin. Let the little child come in.” My theological antennae went up very quickly. He WILL wash away my sin? Wait a minute! It’s already a done deal. That’s what he died for. Once, for all. I learned that from the Catechism a long time ago. Now for the next line. Let the little child come in. Come in WHERE? That line is simply obtuse language for a little kid. Not good to have children learning something they will have to unlearn in later-grade catechism classes. Also not good to have children wondering where exactly they were going to be let in to after Jesus finally washed away their sins at some future and unknown time!

Time to do a little revision to this ubiquitous children’s song. Time for some serious meditation to get the job done. Over the next several months I tried out a variety of new word combinations until I finally hit upon something I liked. Something I thought young children could understand. And something that was theologically correct so that children would learn now what they would also learn later.

Here is verse two:

Jesus loves me, this I know, and He died
Heaven’s gates to open wide.
He has washed away my sin
So that I can live in heaven.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

Some years ago, I also heard a verse three to this song. I have never seen it in writing, but I did remember it. And I remembered a problem or two with it as well. What you are reading here is my revision for it. Verse three:

Jesus loves me when I’m good,
When I do the things I should.
And He loves me when I’m bad
Even though it makes Him sad.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

My meditations continued. I considered possibilities for verse four. Maybe even verse five! Could there be more? Phrases and lines danced through my head and replaced any other meditation I tried to do. After much thinking and sorting and revising, here are verses four and five:

Jesus loves me, He will be
Always near to walk with me.
He will guide me every day,
When I work and when I play.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me and I’ll stay
Close beside him every day.
I’ll tell friends about his love.
There’s a place in heav’n above.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

Almost finished. But there were phrases and ideas still rolling through my meditations. What would I do with them? Was there yet another verse waiting to happen? Here it comes! Verse six:

Jesus loves me, Yessireee,
And His Spirit lives in me.
He’s my Savior, I’m His child.
God looks down on me and smiles.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

Yes, Jesus does love me. Yes, He walks beside me. Yes, He encourages me to stay close by his side. Yes, He guides me all day long. Yes, He loves me whether I’m bad or good. Yes, He loves me enough to die for me and open wide the gates of heaven. Yes, His Spirit lives in me and strengthens me day by day. Yes, He’s my Savior. I’m His child. Yessireee, He loves me all day, every day. That’s what the Bible tells me. And those are the Words for Thought for Spring, 2018. LEJ