“You are my friend if you do what I command” (John 15:16).

One of the favorite hymns of millions of Christians is the old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” It has been popular for many years because we all have a heartfelt need for a friend like him.

He is a unique friend in that as the hymn says, “He bears our sins and griefs.” No matter how much we may be loved by our friends, we have only one friend who can, and did, bear our sins. His name is Jesus. We sinned, but he paid. He took our sin, our shame, and our punishment upon himself on the cross. As God’s word says, “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

He is unique, too, because he can help us bear our griefs. Jesus knows about grief. Isaiah says of him, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with grief” (53:3). Grief is widespread here on this earth. Death often comes and takes our loved ones, leaving us sad and lonely. When that happens, we need to lean heavily on Jesus. He can help us bear our grief and overcome our sorrow. Oh, what a friend he is.

Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a minister, writer, and founder of People for the Christian Way, an organization whose mission is to encourage all people to practice Christian principles in business, politics, and every area of life.,