I recently discovered a truth that I have overlooked in all my years as a Christ-follower. I have heard others, and I myself have used the following scripture many times over the years:
I say to you, if two of you agree on earth concerning anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:19-20
As I recall, this passage was in every case linked directly to prayer, when it doesn’t specifically say this; and it is often misquoted as “two or more,” instead of the way Jesus directly states – “two or three.”
I found this really interesting!
Now without a doubt, Christ is present when larger numbers than three are gathered and prayer remains a center piece in faith. But this specific passage is not about such. The context for Jesus’ words helps clear up any confusion. The context of this part of Matthew 18, is dealing with the reality of sin and dealing with conflict when it arises between brothers and sisters in the church and how to recover health in relationships.
Jesus is promising us that when we have done all we can to resolve some interpersonal problem and we need help from another person, then he will be intentionally present with them as followers who are seeking unity in reaching decisions and gaining health.
Matthew, who is primarily writing for Jewish followers of Christ, knows well how this concept is interlinked with Old Testament teachings, such as Deuteronomy 19:15, where two or three witnesses are needed to resolve sinful behaviour within the community of faith.
I am personally fascinated with what this passage clearly states but has so often been misused, thereby causing many to miss a powerful application to real problems and debilitating sin.
This truth about a power found in “two or three” gathered to assist with recovery in no way speaks against larger group gatherings or of the power of prayer in other settings. It is instead an amazing layer in the richness of God’s love and provision for us in Christ. Jesus is sharing with his followers that when a brother or sister is held captive by some specific wrongdoing and ready to recover and rebuild, there is a promise that Christ will be present in powerful and unique ways when that person is gathered with one or two fellow believers. How special is that!
On a personal note, my study of this passage led me to once again enter into a support/accountability relationship with one brother. We met yesterday, not to deal with some specific sin, but to provide a relationship to guard against what Satan may throw our way. An amazing time with Christ’s presence in our midst.