Sometimes we take the long way around only to arrive right back where we started. Singing “Jesus loves me, this I know” can be equally powerful to the grandparent as to the grandchild in their lap, but for different reasons.
A child could sing, “Jesus loves me, so I’m told…” The faith of a child trusts the words, promises, grace and love of God as delivered by family and friends in the cradle of the church. A child raised in the church can grow up into the knowledge of Jesus and the testimony of scripture.
It gets a lot more complicated after early childhood! One would have to add 99 verses to the song just to hint at all the testimonies and troubles life will bring. For most of us it takes 99 verses or more just to get back to the first verse and leave all the rest in God’s hands. What a gift children in our midst can be, because sometimes only the very young remind us that the song only needs one verse.
This Sunday, we will hear the prophet Jeremiah promise God’s new covenant to come (Ch. 31). Unlike the first covenant in which God “led Israel by the hand” and gave them the Law, this new covenant will give Israel a new heart. God will write his word on their hearts, not on stone tablets. All shall know God, “from the least of them to the greatest.”
The Law has 99 verses and counting. The voice of the Law never stops singing in our conscience in this old world. “What do you think you know?” “Who do you think you are?” “What have you done this time?” The voice of the Gospel carries one clear, sonorous word: “Jesus loves you, yes he knows, for the world to death he goes, sinful ones to him belong, you are weak, but he is strong.”