Jesus said, “Where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst,” (Matt. 18:20). Here is a revelation of the power of Jesus’ Church; the promise of His presence within the church when it has fulfilled the conditions He laid down.
Two words stand out in His statement, “Where,” and “there.” They explain how the church can have the ethical authority that commands attention in world gone wrong. How does the church obtain such ethical authority that commands the world’s attention? It is where the conditions of Jesus statements are met, there He will be in our midst.
You cannot be a church of one, though many today are trying that. There must be two or more and not the individual. I’m not saying a person cannot still pray alone, but I’m commenting on what Jesus is talking about – His church. The principle that is to be met is, “Gathered together in My Name.” It means where people gather to receive His salvation, gather to be made pure, gather to submit to His authority, and gather to be ruled by Him. Under those conditions there He will be. Anyplace where two or more are gathered in Jesus name, and who have yielded themselves to his conditions there He will be.
The church that knows the where and there of Jesus presence knows when it gathers, when it prays, when it asks, and when it yields that it is His church unconquerable.
Jesus took three of the disciples to a mountaintop where he was transfigured before them; they saw his inner glory shine through. During that grand event God’s voice was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him,” (Matt 17:5).
God said, “Listen to Him,” yet in the next set of verses we read how Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem, and instead of listening to what He said, they were, “Grieved,” (23) by what he said. They were grieved because they heard something that did not fit their world-view of a Messiah. Yet they were the very words from the Divine Son, so they must be true.
As Christians we often think we have it all figured out, but then something causes us to listen to Jesus and we find ourselves grieved. When we listen to Jesus we find Him bringing us back to the narrow gate of Matt 7:13. The command to listen reminds me of a poem by Edward H. Richards, “A wise old owl sat on an oak; the more he saw the less he spoke; the less he spoke the more he heard; why aren’t we like that wise old bird? The poem makes a good point: We should listen more than we speak. Unfortunately we can’t get past the conversation of self-righteousness that is going on in our head to hear what Jesus is saying. The Proverb is correct that says, “He that has knowledge spares his word,” (17:27).
In the days before Pentecost the disciples had not only the physical presence of Jesus, but the O. T. Scripture, fasting, and prayer. Yet we read how Jesus was continually frustrated with them. Also Jesus was telling them what he was going to do, but what He was saying wasn’t getting past their own theology; it was getting in the way of them hearing Jesus.
The actions of the disciples teach how we frustrate Jesus today. Today the Christian not only has the completed Scriptures, prayer, and fasting, but we also have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the church. And we have even more. We have the power to move mountains. We have God’s wisdom if we will ask for it and believe we have it. We are told the gates of Hades cannot stand against our confession of faith. We are promised that nothing can separate us from God. We are promised that all are sins are forgiven. We are promised that all we have to do is ask, seek and knock, yet we stand around with our arms hanging down, lacking power, and failing to experience the power of the Christian life.
The power of the Christian life is available to you if you would just have it. Paul wrote, “Put on the full armor of God.” Isn’t it time you stopped being a Marvin or a Mary Milk-toast and do what Paul said to do? Isn’t it time you began acting like a citizen of the Kingdom?