Where 2 or 3 are gathered

So I happened to be looking again at this famous verse from Matthew, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (18:20).  And it occurred to me that usually when I hear this verse quoted it seems to generate an image like this:


Or this:


It is almost always used as a reassurance regarding prayer, sort of like, “Don’t worry we’ve all come together for this one, there is no way God won’t hear us this time.”  But the context of this famous verse is that of forgiving a brother or sister.  Just two verses prior our Lord teaches his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Which comes on the heels of going out forgive one who has sinned against you.  I guess what I’m realizing is that the image we’ve created for this text is a bit wrong.  It’s not about prayer but about the living and active Word of forgiveness spoken between two or more.  Where this Word is spoken, “I forgive you,” there is Christ doing his work.  So perhaps a better image would be this:


Or maybe even better, this: