|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:43-50 This prediction of Christ's sufferings was plain enough, but the disciples would not understand it, because it agreed not with their notions. A little child is the emblem by which Christ teaches us simplicity and humility. What greater honour can any man attain to in this world, than to be received by men as a messenger of God and Christ; and to have God and Christ own themselves received and welcomed in him! If ever any society of Christians in this world, had reason to silence those not of their own communion, the twelve disciples at this time had; yet Christ warned them not to do the like again. Those may be found faithful followers of Christ, and may be accepted of him, who do not follow with us.
Verses 46-48. - How the Lord answered the question which arose among the disciples as to which was the greatest. Verses 46, 47. - Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart. Somewhere on their journey back to the south, between the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi and the old scene of his labours, Capernaum, this dispute must have taken place. Shortly after their arrival at Capernaum, the Master called them together, and gave them the following lesson on human greatness. Took a child, and set him by him. St. Mark mentions that this teaching was "in the house," and commentators have suggested, with some probability, that the house was St. Peter's, and the child one of his. Clement of Alexandria ('Stromata,' 3:448, B) especially mentions that this apostle had children. St. Matthew relates this incident at greater length, and, still dwelling upon the text of "the little one," gives us another and different sketch of the Master's teaching on this occasion. St. Mark tells us how Jesus folded his arms round the little creature in loving fondness. If the child, as above suggested, was Peter's own, such an incident as that embrace would never have been forgotten by the father, and would, of course, find a place in the memoir of his faithful disciple Mark. A (late) tradition of the Eastern Church identifies this child with him who afterwards became the famous Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, a martyr. Ignatius styled himself Theophoros; this, understood in a passive sense, would signify "one who had been carried by God." But in this Father's own writings we find the name used by himself in an active sense, as "one who carries God within himself." And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child. The dispute "which of them should be greatest," which no doubt had taken place among themselves in their last journey from the north of the Holy Land to Capernaum, was still a leading thought in the hearts of the twelve, so little had they really understood their Master's teaching, and especially his later solemn words which pointed the way of the cross as the only way to heaven and to real greatness. The Lord reads these poor sinful hearts; then, calling them together, he takes a child in his arms, and sets him by him. By this action the Lord answers the silent questioning thought of the worldly twelve. "The child stands as the type of the humble and childlike disciple, and (the dispute having been about the comparative greatness of the disciples) such a disciple is the greatest; he is so honoured by God that he stands on earth as the representative of Christ, and of God himself (ver. 47), since "he that is [willingly] least among you all, the same shall be [truly] great' (ver. 48)" (Meyer).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then there arose a reasoning among them,.... The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions read, "a thought entered into them"; suggested very likely by Satan, which broke out into words, and issued in a warm dispute among them; and this was in the way, as they were travelling from Caesarea Philippi, to Capernaum; see Mark 9:33.
Which of them should be greatest; that is, "in the kingdom of heaven", as in Matthew 18:1 in the kingdom of the Messiah, which they expected would be a temporal one: wherefore the dispute was not about degrees in glory, nor in grace; nor who should be the greatest apostle and preacher of the Gospel; but who should be prime minister to the king Messiah, when he should set up his monarchy in all its grandeur and glory.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Lu 9:46-48. Strife among the Twelve Who Should Be Greatest—John Rebuked for Exclusiveness.
46-48. (See on Mt 18:1-5).
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