While Jesus was walking the earth, there used to be Synagogues. Community prayers were offered in the synagogues (Synagogue is a Greek derivation, meaning “gathering together”). Primarily for the reason, for people to gather as a congregation, to learn about God’s persona and offer prayers . Synagogues were dotted all over the land, and were under the rule of certain authorities, who also maintained discipline and services were regulated in disciplined manner. They used to gather for religious purposes and read out the “Prophets”.
(Shash Grewal(Shashwati) is a scriptural Motivational Writer, Speaker, Spiritual Teacher, Preacher and an Evangelist.)
The world was waiting for its Messiah, the Saviour of the world, who will come and cleanse and forgive people of their sins and impurities, and lead them and guide them towards ‘truth’, ‘the light’, that is ‘God’.
The idea was quite nice on its own, since all could enter the synagogues, and seniors could teach them the scriptures, since it wasn’t possible for those simple people, to understand the prophetic teachings. But eventually, the entire process was taking a very religious shape. The Sadducees and Pharisees started assessing themselves as someone superior than the rest of the crowd. Finally when Jesus came, (the book of Mathew 23:33 records), Jesus rebukes all these spiritual leaders as “you serpents!, spawn of vipers”. Had these spiritual leaders really concentrated on the scriptures in truth, they would have instantly recognised Jesus as the Messiah, and remembered all the prophecies foretold about the coming of Messiah, which for generations they had been reading in ‘prophets’ in synagogues. But since their eyes weren’t looking for God and the Messiah, they simply could not recognise Jesus, when He was working and teaching amongst them. Eventually, their hearts burned with anger and venom towards Jesus, resulting in Crucifixion of Christ (Though Crucifixion was prophetic). “And I will pour on the house of David and on inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of Grace and supplication, then they will look on me whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10)
Coming back to a ‘house of prayer’(Assembly of believers)
John 2:19 records, that Jesus said before the counsel, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again”. Verse 20 records, the Jews replied, “it took 46 years to build this temple and you will raise it up in 3 days?”. (What Jesus had meant was, His own body, that was human, once destroyed, God will raise it up and that’s what Resurrected Christ is all about)
“Thus it is written, and thus it behoved, Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day”(Luke 24:46)
Had the spiritual leaders been really enlightened, they would have known and guided people to understand that Jesus implied “His body” as the church. From the beginning Lord was training everyone that assembly of believers, or specifically the “body of Christ”, was to be kept Holy. We are all serving the One Body, One Lord, One Faith, One Mind and One Baptism.
“Jesus” was a revolutionary ‘idea’. It was very difficult for people in those days to understand that “how can God simply forgive you, just for your faith in God, Jesus as your intercessor”?. People were used to doing penances, for various kinds of sins. The bigger their sins were, severe their punishments were. That they could perceive well. But just by faith, you can be saved? Not understandable.
(Shash Grewal(Shashwati) is a “Scriptural Motivational Writer, who explain’s life’s, common principles, in a very lucid manner so that the younger generation can relate to the solutions, She offers through her writing, to all the problems they face on a daily basis.)
Same way, even today. Its beyond people to perceive the revolutionary idea “Jesus”. That He can save you from your sins, just by faith. Hence so much of confusions all around, because people tend to categorise Him as a religion. And eventually they miss the point.
Once Jesus went up to heaven, He had left his disciples to go all around the globe to preach the Gospel. They were equipped by the Holy Spirit, led and guided to follow the lead of the “Holy Spirit”. Acts 13:52 records, “disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.
The first church has been unearthed by archaeologists, in Rihab, in northern Jordan. Built in 230 A.D, Saint Georgeous is believed to be the oldest church. Believed to have sheltered 70 disciples of Jesus (direct lineage of disciples of when Jesus lived from 4BC to 29AD, who fled from Jerusalem during the persecution of Christians. Congregation gathered to encourage and support each other and strengthen each other on faith.
Real ‘house of prayer’ or ‘assembly of believers’ was what the book of Acts records. Acts 2:1 “The new testament church miraculously began, when the members were assembled on the Feast of Pentecost, “IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD”S COMMAND of LEVITICUS 23:15-16, LEVITICUS 23:21, and DEUTRONOMY 16:16. THE EARLY CHURCH MET DAILY WITH ONE ACCORD IN THE TEMPLE”. They taught each other about how Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of all Old Testament of prophecies. This is what God’s desire is for all His people of all generations, “To know the truth” and not be distracted by mere man made religions.
Be its Old Testament or New Testament, it’s all about Christ. “What’s hidden in Old Testament, was revealed in New Testament. Everything was made simple and plain for all to know.
The primary job of us believers should be, to establish this great principle amongst all fellow brothers and sisters, about the New Testament Church , that every congregation, every church should be an autonomous centre of revival, not independent, but rather interdependent, using its freedom and Holy Spirit guided wisdom, in a dedicated unity and coordination of activities, only to glorify “God the Triune-Head”, leading all to “truth alone”. Lord promised His presence amongst us, whenever we seek Him in truth. As the book of Mathew records in 18:20, “wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there “I AM” in the midst of them”.
O God! Great are your mercies towards us. How kindly and gently you deal with each one of us. We are ever so grateful for your love and for the blood You shed for us and purchased us with. We thank you for so much of your love for us unworthy ones! Give us grace enough to learn every moment, and not be a stumbling block for others, but rather be the worthy vessels, to be able to carry your love, wherever we go. Amen!