Where Two or Three are Gathered

Jesus said that where two or three of us come together in his name, he will be there. (Matt. 18:20)

I used to often read this in a very minimalist way. It filtered through my mind something like this: “well, if two or three people is all you can get then I guess that’s okay, don’t be too upset, I’ll be there even though it looks like a pitifully small gathering.”

But what if Jesus meant this saying in a very maximal way? Perhaps it should be read like this: “where there are two or three, that’s where you’ll find me; I’m not as interested in crowds of thousands. The big crowds look impressive, and have a certain religious appeal – but I assure you, the stadium events have received their reward in full. If you really want to see me, gather in groups of just two or three and watch what happens.”

These two ways of reading what Jesus is saying have especially struck me as I look at the resurrection accounts again this Easter.

In each of the four gospels the first, powerful appearance of the risen Jesus is to just one, two, or three people. Later, when he appears to larger groups the appearances are often tinged with doubt – as with Thomas in the Gospel of John or on the mountain in Galilee in Matthew’s account.

Where is the risen Jesus? By his own account, and by the witness of the apostles, he is to be found most powerfully in the smallest of communities.

~ Jonathan Stepp

3 comments so far

  1. Boyd Merriman on

    By cracky, I think you got it!

    I too have never thought of it that way!

    Sometimes we get overwhelmed or “impressed” by the large crowds in the mega churches. We get lost in the crowd and become a number or anonymous to one another.

    Rather than appreciate the small groups we are associated with, we often apologize to our visitors by saying, “well, we are a small group, but in spite of that…..” then quote the scripture as if it were our excuse for being so small. “But we’re trying!!” We say enthusiastically.

    Maybe there are too many large churches and not enough street corner churches in old small wooden buildings.


  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Boyd – I like that line “not enough street corner churches in old small wooden buildings.”

  3. Boyd Merriman on

    I think the other reason there are not enough small churches is because there are not enough people becoming church leaders and teachers. In home study groups had a rise a few years ago, but started to decline again (so it seems to me…maybe I’m wrong about that).

    Churches are expensive when you try to build large churches, and money and treasures given by the people need to be put more towards outreach and serving the community of believers (and community at large) so when two or three do come together, there are a bunch of “twos and threes” all over the place. So smaller churches are more beneficial, just as small group studies, which needs no church building outside on a street corner.

    Are we all trying to go to church rather than be the church in Christ?


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