A Devotional by Pastor Emmanuel Ilagan
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14-15)
One of the first songs I learned in Sunday school was “Jesus Loves Me, This I know” (Anna Warner, lyrics; William Bradbury, music). This 1860s children’s song that was brought to the Philippines by American missionaries apparently had spread to other countries. The US Marines led by John F. Kennedy who were rescued from their sinking PT boat by the people of the Solomon Islands in 1943 sang this song with their rescuers. Swiss-German theologian Karl Barth, when asked after a lecture to give a short summary of his numerous theological works replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so.”
The beauty of the song is that if its first line is flipped, as someone pointed out, it offers another perspective about how God relates to us: “Jesus knows me, this I love.”
God knew us even before we were born. We read in Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
Taal Volcano in the Philippines erupted several days ago. As of this writing the government has issued alert level “4” which means “hazardous eruption imminent.” The highest alert level is “5,” i.e., “on-going life-threatening violent eruption.” We are praying that the volcano will return to inactivity and the alert level lowered.
My wife and I live 50 miles from the volcano. Although we have to wear face masks outside the house and keep our windows closed in order to minimize inhaling the ashfall, so far we are safe. But tens of thousands of people living within nine (9) miles of the crater have been force-evacuated and had to leave their homes, livestock, and livelihood. They are in evacuation centers or relatives’ houses and depend on government and non- government entities, including churches, for water, food, milk for the babies, and other basic needs. The future is uncertain and huge challenges are in the horizon.
It is hard to be at the mercy of nature’s whims. But it is comforting to be at the mercy of our God who controls nature and also knows us. Those who are in Christ find solace in the fact that He knows what is happening in our lives. Jesus is responsible for us: He said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. (John 10:14). He knows us intimately and personally; He even knows us by name (John 10:3).”
We are known and we are loved. The Cross of Calvary proves that.
Dear Jesus, thank You for knowing us as individuals. You know the uncertainties and challenges that beset us. Be our Refuge and Strength, and comfort us as we live these days. Amen.