Man’s Best Friend

“A dog is a man’s best friend,” the popular saying claims. In tracing the origin of that proverb, there is debate about whether it originated with King Frederick of Prussia in 1798 or Senator George Vest of Missouri in 1870. Both are credited with saying, “The only absolute and best friend that a man has, in this selfish world, the only one that will not betray or deny him, is his dog.”

The loyalty, faithfulness, and love of a pet, especially a dog, is a haven of comfort in a chaotic world. What better way to end a hard day of work than to be welcomed home by the unconditional love of a playful puppy?

Yet for all the amazing qualities of a dog’s love, humanity has a deeper love, an eternal love from a friend who far surpasses even the best pet. A friend who knows all about you and loves you anyway. A friend who invites you into his inner circle of friends.

Jesus said, “You are my friends if you obey me. Servants don’t know what their master is doing, and so I don’t speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything my Father has told me” (John 15:14-15).

The best friend in all the world is Jesus Christ. Why?

Because Jesus is a friend who shares. Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus “shared” in our humanity by coming to earth in flesh and blood to live like us in order to relate to our human experience. He came to Earth to share a living color demonstration of who God is and what God is like. In the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus brought peace to his friends when they faced disaster on a stormy night at sea, he shared freedom for those who were demonized and in bondage, he shared healing with those who were diseased, and he even shared new life for a dear friend who had died, Lazarus.

Jesus is also a friend who serves. John 13 tells of a time when Jesus was about to share a meal with his closest friends. Before the meal, he does the unthinkable—taking a basin of water and a towel and moving around the table, slipping off the sandals of his friends, and washing their feet. What makes his service even more remarkable is that John 13:3 says he had been given all divine power. But he chose to demonstrate his power to his friends by serving a real need.

But his supreme act that affirms his desire for your friendship is at the cross. Jesus is a friend who saves. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Humanity’s greatest need is for a friend to resolve our greatest need: the need to be saved from the sin that separates us from God. And Jesus is that friend. His cross is our bridge across the chasm our sin created, bringing us back into relationship with the Father and friendship with our Savior.

There’s no better way to start 2023 than with a friendship with Jesus. Get in the Gospels and discover Jesus, humanity’s best friend.