Where two or three are gathered… (Part 1)
Like many churches across the UK, Bristo Baptist has now reopened for Sunday morning services. We have, however, opted to continue sharing the service on Zoom for those who would prefer to join from home, or are unable to attend in person. We also continue to email out a PDF document of the service for people to read in their own time.
As mentioned in our first blog back in May, when we first began using Zoom many people mentioned how nice it was to see each other during meetings. Although we are still meeting without being all together in the same building, we know that God is present with all of us, no matter how we choose to take part on a Sunday morning. This week, we take a look at how He promises to be with us in any group gathering or decision-making process, a topic that we’ll be continuing with next week.
For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20)
This verse will be familiar to many of us, as it is often quoted at church meetings as a reassurance that God is with us during our time together. While this is true, if we read the previous verses we see that Jesus is actually referring to supporting those who have sinned and guiding them towards repentance. The context of where two or three are gathered in My name, therefore, is the idea of God being with people when they meet together in agreement on a particular matter, and seek to follow His plans.
As Jesus spoke to His disciples in this way, He will have reminded them of two sections in Deuteronomy, as at the time Jewish men were required to memorise the Torah (the first four books of the Bible):
On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6)
One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time (Deuteronomy 19:15-17)
Here we see how the Jewish law dictates that two or three witnesses are required in order to bring a case to court. Applying this to the original context of Jesus’ words, we can be confident that He will be present at any meetings attended by a church, including those focussing on discipline or government, and He will guide us through any decision-making processes.
Where two or three are gathered in My name also refers to the fact that Jesus will be with those who meet in agreement on a particular issue in a way in which we seek His heart. As a church, we agree that Jesus died for our sins as a demonstration of His immense love for us, and so we currently meet knowing He is with us as we gather, whether virtually or in person.
If He is with us at these times then we know that He will be with us at others, such as when we pray by ourselves:
Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
It is comforting to know that Jesus is with us on an individual level and hears our prayers. Yet it is also reassuring that, when we come together with the same purpose of worshipping God and supporting each other, He will be with us all no matter where we are or how we meet with others.