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…And Leonard?

July 20, 2012

A couple weeks ago, our daughter Grace and I had the opportunity to visit Brooklyn. While we were there, a friend took us on an outing to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and we spent a few happy hours wandering through the exhibits.

As we made our way through the labyrinth that is the European Paintings Gallery, we paused to gaze at each painting and to read the placard posted beside it. Many of these had a religious theme focusing on Christ, Mary, or one or more of the apostles. The placards read something like this, “Madonna and Christ Child, painted by [some Italian guy] in [some place] in [some date].” After doing this twenty or thirty times, it got a little tedious. All the scenes seemed the same, until we entered a small room and came face-to-face with a life-sized painting of two men and two women. The man on the left – the one holding a set of keys – and the veiled woman next to him were gazing humbly downward. The other woman looked outward at the viewer, and the man on the right – the one holding fetters – was glancing upward from the corner of his eyes.

I turned my attentions to the placard and began to read. “It’s by Corrreggio,” I said,”and was painted around 1515. It features…” I paused and reread the placard before continuing, “Saints Peter, Martha, Mary Magdalene, and … Leonard.”

“…and Leonard?” Grace giggled.

“Yep, that’s what it says,” I answered. “Leonard.”

Okay. Wow. It’s not often one sees a classical depiction of Peter, Martha, Mary and Leonard. And this led to an evening filled with jokes and speculations concerning Leonard. We decided it would be fun to start a fansite on Facebook for Leonard. (Look for it in a few months!) The slogan for the fansite will be “Like Leonard!”

In the following weeks, I have thought back many times to that painting of Leonard. I suppose one reason I have thought back to it was simple curiosity over the identity of Leonard. I did a little nosing around and learned that Leonard (Leonard of Noblac) died in 559 AD and was afterward considered the patron saint of prisoners, criminals, captives and slaves. The other reason I have been thinking back to it is that it underscored to me the marvelous reality of our position in Christ. Let me explain…

When I read the New Testament, I find it easy to fall into “Bible Character mode.” I read about Peter, Paul, James, John, and the other disciples, and I elevate them in my mind to a ‘super-saint’ position. This “Bible Character mode” thing goes beyond recognizing the apostles’ authority and unique positions. It fosters a separation in my mind between them as believers and me as a 21st century believer. I am apt to forget as I read, if I am not careful, that they are my brothers in Christ and I share equally with them in all the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Indeed, according to Scripture, I too am a “saint” in Christ Jesus (as unlikely as this seems to anyone who knows me well.) Perhaps that is why Peter reminds the readers of his letter that he is speaking to those “who have obtained like precious faith by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1)

Turning back now to Leonard, I remember laughing when I saw “Leonard” standing next to those heroes of the faith. But now, as I consider the truths of God’s Word and realize that I could, just as likely, see a picture of Peter, Martha, Mary and Christian, it seems even more laughable! I find myself giggling at the thought as I consider the grace of God that makes it possible for a guy like me to take his place with His saints! Truly this is work solely of God! Only He could do such a thing.

Now, of course, that is not only true for me and Leonard. It is true for you too. So today, if you are a believer in Christ Jesus, for just a moment, picture yourself as the fourth person in that painting, and rejoice in God Your Savior who has granted you such a position!



  •  Why No Denomination Will Survive the Homosexuality Crisis. This article points out the reality that Christian denominations cannot have it both ways. They cannot simultaneously  remain true to Scripture and endorse members with homosexual lifestyles. The author argues that denominations cannot avoid taking a stand on this matter, and he encourages them to take that stand actively rather than passively. Read it at: 
  • ‘God Particle’ Discovery Ignites Debate Over Science and Religion. This article raises as many questions as it answers, but it is helpful in that it raises the questions that are worth further exploration. You may find this particular statement challenging: “This much is true: Higgs bosons – which permeate the universe – help us understand how something comes from nothing.” Hmm, is that the same thing as a belief in creation ex nihilo? What do you think? Find the article at: 
  • Germany’s Circumcision Ruling Makes Believers Anxious. A German court recently ruled that circumcision amounted to bodily harm, and this has raised issues of religious discrimination in Germany. This is particularly remarkable, considering Germany’s past persecution of the Jews. This ruling may soon be set aside, as German lawmakers are expected to pass a motion to protect religious circumcision, but the controversy is a disturbing reminder of political correctness gone wrong. Could we see this issue raised in the United States some day? Read more at: 
  • Memorize Scripture. This article reminds us of the importance of memorizing Scripture. The author also suggests some practical ways to increase one’s practice of this discipline. At the end of the article, she also lists a few other websites with Scripture Memory helps. Find the article at:

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