“Jesus Loves Me”: Listening to the Voice of an Angel

We were visiting a small orphanage of street children in Beijing, China, hoping to bring the children a touch of God’s love. We left touched by the voice of an angel.

Our tour of the tiny facility shocked our senses. Small children were confined in cribs, not strapped down, just left alone because there weren’t enough workers to give them attention.

Older children, sitting on stools near the kitchen, balanced bowls of ingredients in their laps, each doing their part to feed everyone and sustain the work.

But our last encounter was an unexpected gift. Unable to contribute like the other older children was a 16-year-old girl, blind from birth, sitting in a chair in an open room. She sensed our approach and straightened as our leader spoke her name, said something in Chinese and introduced us. She nodded in our direction. For a moment there was silence as we waited and wondered.

And then it happened. Notes of music as clear as crystal rippled in the air like the waving silk banners in the markets. We were awed. Speechless. And though she sang in her native Mandarin tongue, the tune was unmistakable:

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 me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

Written in 1859 by Anna Bartlett Warner as a poem for a novel, the words of “Jesus Loves Me” were set to music and quickly spread around the globe as missionaries taught the tune to new disciples in every land.

We think of this tune primarily as a children’s song, but the words are the simple essence of the gospel. They are just as meaningful for adults too. Famous German theologian Karl Barth was asked near the end of his life what was his most profound discovery in the Bible after a lifetime of study. He replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”

The fourth stanza isn’t sung as often as the first one but in it is the simplicity of the gospel story of Jesus’ life on earth. I think it should be sung along with the other stanzas in big church for all the grownups.

Jesus loves me, He who died,

Heaven’s gate to open wide.

He will wash away my sin,

Let His little child come in.

God’s Word tells us, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We cannot love well or long on our own. May we all be like little children learning to love and singing of Jesus’ love to us.

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