“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.” (Isaiah 40:26)
The hymn “Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners” mentions the frequent failure of our friends and the persistent opposition of our enemies. Conversely, Jesus Christ, who loves us completely, never fails. “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
The hymnist was not writing for believers only but also for those who still reject God’s gift of salvation. Jesus loves them and came to Earth on their behalf. A favorite Scripture reminds us “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Abraham was one of those who loved and believed God, “and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).
Christ taught His disciples that He would soon die, but they didn’t believe. Jesus taught them that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), and “ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (v. 14). They were growing in the understanding that He was God Himself. “Henceforth I call you not servants . . . but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
Later, John wrote they were more than friends. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). JDM
Click here for the sheet music for this hymn.