Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Hebrews 11:1
October 29, 2017
Abraham Hong

 

There is a song that many believers in Christ learn when they are young. It goes like this:

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.

This is such a lovely song. And it is a very theologically sound song. It’s funny how some of the most theologically correct songs today are those sung by little children in Sunday School. I really like this song. But there’s a small little problem with it. It’s in the beginning and the end of the song.

Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.

Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. It is absolutely true that the Bible tells us that Jesus loves us so. And it is absolutely true that we know that Jesus loves us because the Bible tells us so. But there is another way that we know that Jesus loves us.

But before I tell you about this other way of knowing that Jesus loves us, we need to talk about the importance of knowing that Jesus loves us.

Knowing that Jesus loves you is no small thing. As weak and frail human beings who are like sheep, we need reassurance from the Good Shepherd that we are okay in Him and that everything is going to be alright. We can struggle with trusting in the Lord and in his promises. We might have asked ourselves, “Does God really love me?” Knowing that Jesus loves us is no small thing.

In fact, I could argue that the Reformation, which started in 1517, which churches throughout the world are celebrating today and marking this Sunday as its 500 anniversary, was a gigantic historical moment that happened because of the issue of assurance. The issue of how to know that Jesus loves you. The Reformation happened because bad people were starting to say bad things, such as:

Jesus loves me this I know.
For my good works make it so.

Jesus loves me this I know.
For I feel/think that I just know.

Brothers and sisters, knowing that Jesus loves you is no small thing. One of the most basic things that our church and our pastors are supposed to do is help you as church members to know that Jesus loves you as you wait for his return. And there are two ways that we do that for you.

First is the Bible. We read Scripture and we explain Scripture to you. God speaks to you through his written word. It is here that the song is perfectly correct. Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

But there is a second way that our church and our pastors are supposed to help you know that Jesus loves you. This lovely song does not mention it, so here is my humble addition to it:

Jesus loves me this I know.
For the sacraments show me so.

There are two sacraments that are given to us by Jesus Christ: the Lord’s Supper and baptism. And today I want to talk to you about baptism.

A sacrament is a sign and a seal of the covenant of grace. This means that baptism is a picture of God’s promises of salvation for you and a confirmation that God’s promises of salvation are true for you. I will explain this a little bit later in this sermon.

This is so cool. When the Lord wrote out the entire Bible and then gave it to us, he was telling us that he loves us. But when the Lord invented baptism and then gave it to us, he wasn’t telling us that he loves us. He was showing us that he loves us.

I don’t know about you, but one of the bestest and funnest moment of school as a little kid was show and tell day. Well, every Sunday is a chance for show and tell. When we come to church and hear God’s word read out loud and then explained to us, that is Jesus telling us that he loves us. When we come to church and eat of the bread and drink of the cup of the Lord’s Supper, and when we come to church and get baptized or see someone else get baptized, that is Jesus showing us that he loves us. Forgive me for the street language, but this is just so… cool.

I don’t know about you, but I am a weary traveler, a melancholy pilgrim, a frail and weak sheep who needs all the help I can get as I walk by faith and not by sight. Brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ is truly a Good Shepherd who in his perfect wisdom has given us baptism as a simple but beautiful picture to show us that he really does love us. It remains true that Jesus’ word, his written word, the Bible, is the primary way that he assures us of his love. But it is also true that Jesus has authorized two sacraments as a secondary way that he assures us of his love. Baptism is one of two pictures that reinforce the written word of God that is the Bible. The “show” supports the “tell.”

Here is how the picture of baptism works. There are four parts to the picture. You could say that it’s not a 3-D picture. It’s a 4-D picture. And there is an interesting pattern to the four dimensions of baptism. They are: 1) death, 2) cleansing, 3) death, and 4) cleansing.

First, baptism is a picture of death - a picture of Jesus’ death. In 1 Peter 3, the writer tells us that there is a connection between baptism, which we are talking about today, and the flood, which we have been talking about in our series on Noah. Baptism is a picture of death by water. Just as the flood waters of judgment in the story of Noah brought death to all, so the flood of wrath and judgment in Calvary brought death to Jesus Christ. Therefore, when water is poured or sprinkled onto a person being baptized, that is a picture of the reality of Jesus’ death for us. The water in baptism is God showing you the reality of Christ’s death.

Second, baptism is a picture of your cleansing forgiveness. Just as water washes away dirtiness, so the blood of Jesus washes away sin. This happens because when Jesus shed his blood and died for us, he took our punishment that we deserved. He was the sacrifice for our sins. So now there is no punishment for us. We are forgiven of our sins. Therefore, when water is poured or sprinkled onto a person being baptized, that is a picture of the reality that the person’s sins have been forgiven in Jesus Christ. The water in baptism is God showing you the reality of your forgiveness.

Third, baptism is a picture of death again - but this time a picture of your death. In Romans 6, the writer tells us that we are united with Christ in his death. We who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. Therefore, when water is poured or sprinkled onto a person being baptized, that is a picture of the reality that the person has died to sin. The water in baptism is God showing you the reality of the end of old things.

Fourth, baptism is a picture of your cleansing regeneration. Just as water washes away dirtiness, so the work of the Holy Spirit washes you in holiness. This happens because when the Holy Spirit regenerates you and renews you and sanctifies you, he is changing you to be less like your old self and more like Jesus Christ. This happens because we are united with Christ in his resurrection life. We think differently. We talk differently. We act differently. We grow and we change. Therefore, when water is poured or sprinkled onto a person being baptized, that is a picture of the reality of the person’s sanctification in Jesus Christ. The water in baptism is God showing you the reality of your changing and newness of resurrection life.

Wow. So there you have it. Baptism: a picture of Jesus’ death and yours. A picture of cleansing forgiveness and cleansing regeneration. This is so cool and so amazing - and so reassuring and comforting for the believer. Jesus loves us. He tells us so. And he shows us so. He tells us and he shows us that he died for us. He tells us and he shows us that we are forgiven of our sins. He tells us and he shows us that our old selves have gone. He tells us and he shows us that our new selves have come. He tells us and he shows us that he loves us.

Praise the Lord! Our Lord Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. And he has given you help. He has given you his Word, and his Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to get you through the world that is passing away and bring you into the world that is to come. And he has given you all of this because he loves you.

It can be hard to wait for Jesus. We struggle to set our minds on heaven with faith, hope, and love. We are often captivated or distracted by things of this world. We may be tempted to settle down here. We can get caught up in our own stories. Our own dreams. Our own kingdoms. Our own bowls of stew. We sin against God. And we lack assurance of our salvation. There are times when we might think to ourselves, “I’m not sure if Jesus loves me.”

But the Lord has given us his word and his sacraments so that our faith would grow. Jesus has given us baptism so that, in the words of Hebrews 11:1, we can be assured of things hoped for and convicted of things not seen. Let us therefore “use” these two means of grace: God’s word and God’s sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Let us know that Jesus loves us, for the Bible tells us so, and for the sacraments show us so.

In closing, brothers and sisters, I offer you a wonderful “twist” for the end. One day, baptism will become obsolete. There will no longer be a need for this sign and seal of the covenant of grace. There will no longer be an assurance of things for, no longer a conviction of things not seen. There will no longer be a need for faith. The reason why you will no longer have or need these things is because one day you will see Jesus face to face. You will have him fully and perfectly. You will experience him like never before. That day is coming. It’s true. All of it. And when that day comes, perhaps we will need to change the lyrics to our beloved song from when we were kids. Perhaps in the future when we are in the new heavens and the new earth, we will sing this:

Jesus loved me this I knew.
By his word and sacraments two.
But now I live in kingdom come.
Sin, death, tears and pain all gone.

Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
I see him face to face.

End