Dear Followers of Jesus,

If I thought that I was the best writer in all of Mansfield, I would be conceited--and wrong, as well.  If I thought that I was the best writer in the United States of America, I would be an utter fool--and even more wrong, but at least still sane.  If I thought that I wrote as well as William Shakespeare, I would be near the edge of insanity.  If I thought that I was William Shakespeare, I would clearly be over the edge.  But what if I thought that I was God?  Would you bother to read the rantings of a man who thought that he was God?

Yet Jesus repeatedly made such audacious claims (usually implicitly, though occasionally explicitly), all the while asserting that He was "gentle and humble in heart" (Matthew 11:29)--and we believe Him!  Why would anyone ever believe His shocking claim to be God?

Because it fits.  He was so good and gracious, so trustworthy and wise, that the claim to deity somehow rings true in Him as it never has, nor ever could, in any mere mortal.  He was so attractive and winsome, so tender and kind, that children felt no fear of Him.  He was so loving and forgiving, so merciful and patient, that notorious sinners were drawn to Him.  His love even for His executioners was so heart-melting that it transformed the attitude of one of the two criminals who were crucified with Him.  No one ever spoke as He did, lived as He did, loved as He did, died as He did, nor rose as He did.  "No wonder they call Him the Savior"!

Our faith is essentially a love relationship with this incomparable Christ.  In fact, the "lig" part of the word "religion" in Latin means "to tie; to bind," as in a "ligament," which binds bones together.  The same root gives us the word "rely," which is "to depend confidently on; to hold firmly to."

May these days of Lenten devotion and preparation serve to strengthen the ties that bind us in trust and loyalty to this strange more-than-a-man Man from Nazareth Whom we know to be our Savior, our Lord, and our God.  May they cause us to sing as never before:

     My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
     If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.

Yours, because His,

(Rev.) Peter A. Brown