By Johnny Hester
Just today I re-discovered an interesting Civil War story
about President Abraham Lincoln and how he chose to deal
with a particularly difficult matter.
During the War Between the States, President Lincoln
received many requests for pardons for soldiers who had
deserted and had been sentenced to death. With each appeal
came letters of testimony from family and friends telling of
the soldier's endearing qualities and why his life should be
One request for pardon came on a single sheet of paper. No
letters were attached. Surprised, the president asked the
officer in charge why no one spoke for this man. "This
soldier has no friends, Mr. President. All his family died
during the war." The president thanked the officer and told
him he'd let him know what his decisions were in the
That night the president struggled with his decisions.
Desertion was a serious matter, and if he were to overrule a
death sentence, he would be sending a message to his troops.
Yet, he sympathized with the man who had no one who loved
him in the world.
The next morning the officer returned to the president's
office and learned that the president had made his decision,
based on the testimony of a friend. "But Sir, there were no
letters of testimony for this man!"
"I will be his friend," the President said as he signed the
The president made a tough decision. It was a decision based
not on personal self-interest, but based upon the need of
another. That is precisely the choice that Jesus made when
He demonstrated His friendship toward us in an unmistakable
way - He died in our stead. He died so that we might live!
The death that Jesus chose to suffer was the ultimate
demonstration of loving friendship. And, the Lord tells us
how we are to show our friendship and love for Him. He
declared in John 15:13-14, "Greater love has no one than
this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are
My friends if you do whatever I command you."
In 1904, perhaps with this passage in mind, Will. L.
Thompson penned the following verse:
Jesus is all the world to me:
I want no better friend;
I trust Him now, I'll trust Him when
life's fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a friend,
beautiful life what has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy:
He's my friend.
How blessed we are to have Jesus as our friend. Let's
determine to bring our lives into compliance with His will
and, in doing so, demonstrate that we are His friends as
- Johnny Hester preaches for the Shady Acres Church of
Christ, in Sikeston, MO. He may be contacted through
the church's website at