This morning as I mentally chew on Luke 5:17-32, this is the question that popped into my heart.
"Do I really care about my friends?"
One day when Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and legal experts were sitting nearby. They had come from every village in Galilee and Judea, and from Jerusalem. Now the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal. Some men were bringing a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. They wanted to carry him in and place him before Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The legal experts and Pharisees began to mutter among themselves, “Who is this who insults God? Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus recognized what they were discussing and responded, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins” —Jesus now spoke to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, get up, take your cot, and go home.” Right away, the man stood before them, picked up his cot, and went home, praising God. All the people were beside themselves with wonder. Filled with awe, they glorified God, saying, “We’ve seen unimaginable things today.” Afterward, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Levi got up, left everything behind, and followed him. Then Levi threw a great banquet for Jesus in his home. A large number of tax collectors and others sat down to eat with them. The Pharisees and their legal experts grumbled against his disciples. They said, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people but sinners to change their hearts and lives.” Luke 5:17-32In the first part of my reading there is a group of friends that goes to extraordinary lengths to bring someone they care deeply for to the life changing hands of Jesus. These friends know who Jesus is, they know what Jesus is capable of, and they will do anything to get their 'person in need' up close and personal with Him. They climbed up a roof, did some quick demolition on the roof, got their friend on the cot up the roof and then literally lowered him before the Son of God. These friends were not dissuaded by the crowd, their need was to great to simply give up when things got complicated. These friends KNEW that Jesus is what would make the difference. Now the man on the cot had to do his part too. When Jesus told him to get up, he could have said "but I am paralyzed", but he didn't. The friends role in this lesson, was to get the man to Jesus. They did their part, and then Jesus did His.
Then Luke rolls right into Levi's dinner party. Levi himself, had a face to face encounter with Christ. And what did he do next? He called up all of his peeps and had himself a party. Good food. Good company - his inner circle of friends being giving the chance to meet his Savior. What a great idea. I have always believed that "if you cook it they will come." Don't give me wrong - I love my church building and the things that happen there. But in my life, the way Matt and I build friendships, and do life as a Christian community always happens easier and more significantly around the kitchen table, the couches in the den and the bleachers that surround the basketball court and the soccer field.
So what's my take away from this great passage (and I do consider it one passage and not 2 separate lessons). Well, it's more a series of questions than a single life changing statement.
1) How deeply do I care about my friends really?
2) Do I let complications, distractions and problems keep me from doing whatever it takes to get my friends to the place where they can have a life changing face to face meeting with Jesus?
3) Am I doing my part to get the people I share air with to a place where they can experience Jesus?
4) Do my friends understand that life with Jesus is a party? A celebration?
5) Do I have room in my heart, my life and my calendar for the hurting, the broken, the struggling, the people Jesus is missing right now?
Open my heart and my eyes today God, to the things that matter to you. I don't wanna miss it. Amen