And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him (Jesus). But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you” …. But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. Luke 5:18-20, 24-25
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. Romans 16:3-5
Today’s thoughts from today’s verse:
Today’s first Scripture gives us a story that has many features to it. The men who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus demonstrate that the relationship they have with him is one of closeness and commitment. To go to such lengths for someone else usually requires a lot of love and devotion. Certainly, the kind of relationship they shared with the paralyzed man made them willing to take a lot of risk on his behalf. In addition to all the obvious risk, there is another risk involved for all of them. What is going to happen when the man on the bed is finally positioned before Jesus? What will the reaction of Jesus be? The first word out of the mouth of Jesus is “friend?”
Would Jesus address everyone who came before him in this setting as “friend?” How about the Scribes and Pharisees? Hardly. The Scribes and Pharisees are present and they stand in stark contrast to these men. These men have turned to Jesus and are counting on him. We are told that Jesus saw their faith. They believed that Jesus could take care of their friend and they were waiting for him to do so. They were expecting Jesus to heal their friend. But the initial response of Jesus was “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” The paralyzed man had a heart that wanted Jesus and a body that needed Jesus. Jesus fixed his heart and then he fixed his body. You can be sure that all of these men had their sins forgiven by Jesus that day and that they all became his friends indeed.
The friendship these men shared and the risks they were willing to take really help us understand “Koinonia” better. They took the risk of coming before Jesus with their friend and it really paid off. Not only was their friend healed but they entered into “Koinonia” with God through the forgiveness of sins bestowed on them by Jesus Christ. We said yesterday that true “Koinonia” is meant to be so much more than even the best relationship on a human level alone could ever be. This is because “Koinonia” is something that comes from God. Can you imagine where their love and commitment for each will go after getting established in a relationship of love and commitment with God through Christ.
Today’s second passage is from the close of the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans. It gives us a glimpse of “Koinonia” at work as it flows from God to his people and then outward from them. The Apostle Paul tells his readers to greet Prisca and Aquila. He describes them as “my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks.” He then says, “not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.” May we know the “Koinonia” of the early church and may risking our own necks for each other be common place as we live out our love and commitment for God and each other.
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, I commit myself to the pursuit of “Koinonia” for myself and others. Please connect me with others who want to do the same (small groups). Thank you for calling me, “Friend,” too. Forgiveness and being welcomed into the “Koinonia” of God are beautiful things. I bask in your loving presence and the joy of living fully for you. Amen!