From the context here, it is evident that our Lord is speaking about the local church and its elders. His statement is "There am I in the midst of them." What a promise this is!
Solomon asked the question "But will God indeed dwell on the earth?" We should want to be most of all where the Lord Jesus is, for "where Jesus is, it is heaven there."
Jacob said "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." This gives dignity to the gathering, to which art or architecture or manís device could add nothing. There are some things spoken of by the Lord in the chapter, which should characterize such a place.
1. PLACE OF THE CONVERTED
The Lord says in verse three, "Except ye be converted." Care should be taken that those who wish to join the company are truly converted and know the Lord. Paul refers to the converted at Corinth as having been greatly changed. Speaking of fornicators, idolators, and such like, he says "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified."
2. PLACE OF HUMILITY
Our Lord uses a child in this chapter, to teach humility. Pride is an abomination to the Lord. We all need to judge it in ourselves, and to remember the pit from whence we were digged. There is no room for competition in this place. An old preacher once said "There is a little word having four letters, which causes great trouble. P R I D." His hearers all smiled, but they remembered his exhortation nonetheless.
3. PLACE OF DISCIPLINE
The assembly is a place of great liberty, but there is a danger of that liberty being abused. With liberty comes responsibility. Our Lord Jesus foresees difficulty and offense in the assembly, and instructs that the incorrigible brother is to be put out of the fellowship, because of his refusal to listen to the church. The place of His presence must be kept clean, and this discipline is recog≠nized in heaven. When it must be carried out, let it be with brokenness and softness of spirit.
4. PLACE OF PRAYER
In verse 19, the Lord says "If two of you shall agree on earth..." He says elsewhere, "My house shall be called the house of prayer." Do we consider the prayer meeting to be important? We do need divine help to continue in this dark world.
5. PLACE OF FORGIVENESS
Peter has been listening to the discourse, and asks "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?" We are called upon to have Stephenís spirit, who prayed "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." We must be ready to forgive when repentance is manifest and expressed. The closing parable of this chapter lays great emphasis on this. Can we really pray "Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us?"
May these thoughts help us, as we seek to gather to His Name.