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Where Two or Three are Gathered

Wednesday, March 6th
Where Two or Three are Gathered
By: Pastor Melissa Beauvais

Matthew 18:15-35

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[f]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[g] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Arguably the most misquoted verse in all the Bible is in the passage we read today. “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (v.20).  While most use this phrase in worship gatherings and spaces as a declaration that the Holy Spirit is present when people gather (and this is true), as we read today, the context of this verse is when confrontation arises among believers.. So, how should believers work out indifferences? Well, Jesus gives a four-step process:

1.       Confront the brother or sister.
2.       If they do not listen, bring one or two witnesses.
3.       Still not listening, tell the gathering body in love.
4.       If they still do not listen, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector.

When I was reading this passage, it was that last step that struck the heart. Who is writing this Gospel? Matthew, the tax collector! How was he treated by Jesus? With love, compassion, and forgiveness!  His sin was exposed when Jesus confronted him and Jesus made space for repentance and forgiveness. “How many times”, Peter asks. “As many times as it takes”,  Jesus answers.  It now makes sense the parable that proceeds and why the master was so angry with his servant whom he forgave..

Forgiveness is a powerful gift and tool. Often in our forgiveness to another, they see their sin. If the Church is the community of the forgiven, then all our relationships would be marked by the same forgiveness that Jesus has demonstrated. See, there He is in the midst of two or three. It may or may not be received well, but when what was once hidden in the dark is now brought to the light of all the church, both parties have a responsibility. When we forgive as Jesus does, with all our heart, it is He who is with us..

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