|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
19:13-15 It is well when we come to Christ ourselves, and bring our children. Little children may be brought to Christ as needing, and being capable of receiving blessings from him, and having an interest in his intercession. We can but beg a blessing for them: Christ only can command the blessing. It is well for us, that Christ has more love and tenderness in him than the best of his disciples have. And let us learn of him not to discountenance any willing, well-meaning souls, in their seeking after Christ, though they are but weak. Those who are given to Christ, as part of his purchase, he will in no wise cast out. Therefore he takes it ill of all who forbid, and try to shut out those whom he has received. And all Christians should bring their children to the Saviour that he may bless them with spiritual blessings.
Verses 13-15. - Benediction of little children. (Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17.) Verse 13. - Christ, having laid his blessing on marriage, now blesses its fruit. Then. This happened directly after the preceding conversation. Mothers were won to his side by his elevation of woman to her true position, and his marked tenderness to children. Little children (παιδία). St. Luke calls them τὰ βρέφη, "their infants." These were babes whom the mothers carried in their arms, and who were too young to understand the meaning and importance of the act of Christ in blessing them. It was a custom to take infants to the synagogues, that they might receive the prayers and blessings of the rabbis, or holy men. For this reason they were brought to Christ as a holy and revered Teacher. That he should put his hands on them, and pray. The laying on of hands was symbolical of blessing (see Genesis 48:14; Numbers 27:23). From the Jewish it passed into the Christian Church (Acts 6:5), and continues unto this day to be used on various solemn occasions. The disciples rebuked them. More definitely in St. Mark, "rebuked those that brought them." Why they did so is not quite obvious. Either they thought that it was beneath Christ's dignity, and a waste of his precious time to attend to these babes; or, being still of imperfect faith, they did not realize that any spiritual good could proceed from the imposition of Christ's hands upon unconscious and irresponsive infants. They had seen him cure bodily diseases with a touch, and they would have welcomed these little ones it' they had been brought to be healed of some obvious maladies; what they could not understand was that these irrational creatures, not possessed of faith, could be the recipients of Divine blessing. Christ, by word and action, teaches another lesson. St. Mark adds that Jesus was "much displeased" at the disciples' faithless interference. St. Luke tells us that he "called them [the babes] unto him," making his followers desist from their officious remonstrance, and said the memorable words which are given almost without variation by the three synoptists.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then were there brought unto him little children,.... It does not appear that they were new born babes; the words used by either of the evangelists do not always signify such, but are sometimes used of such as are capable of going alone; yea, of receiving instructions, of understanding the Scriptures, and even of one of twelve years of age, Matthew 18:2 nor is it probable that infants just born, or within a month, should be had abroad. Moreover, these were such as Christ called unto him, Luke 18:16 and were capable of coming to him of themselves, as his words following suppose; nor does their being brought to him, or his taking them in his arms, contradict this; since the same things are said of such as could walk of themselves, Matthew 12:22 Mark 9:36. Nor is it known whose children they were, whether their parents were believers or unbelievers, nor by whom they were brought: but the end for which they were brought is expressed,
that he should put his hands on them, and pray; not that he should baptize them, nor did he; which may be concluded from the entire silence of all the evangelists; and from an express declaration that Christ baptized none; and from the mention of other ends for which they were brought, as that Christ should "touch" them, Mark 10:13 as he sometimes used to do persons, when he healed them of diseases; and probably some of those infants, if not all of them, were diseased, and brought to be cured; otherwise, it is not easy to conceive what they should be touched by him for: or as here, that he might put his hands on them, and pray over them, and bless them, as was usual with the Jews to do; see Genesis 48:14 and it was common with them to bring their children to venerable persons, men of note for religion and piety, to have their blessing and prayers (y):
and the disciples rebuked them; not the children, as the Persic version reads, but those that brought them, Mark observes; either because they came in a rude and disorderly manner, and were very noisy and clamorous; or they might think it would be too troublesome to Christ, to go through such a ceremony with so many of them; or that it was too mean for him, and below him to take notice of them; or for fear he should take fresh occasion, on the sight of these children, to rebuke them again for their pride and ambition. However, from this rebuke and prohibition of the disciples, it looks plainly as if it had never been the practice of the Jews, nor of John the Baptist, nor of Christ and his disciples, to baptize infants; for had this been then in use, they would scarcely have forbid and rebuked those that brought them, since they might have thought they brought them to be baptized; but knowing of no such usage that ever obtained in that nation, neither among those that did, or did not believe in Christ, they forbad them.
(y) Massechet Sopherim, c. 18. sect. 5. see the note on Luke ii. 42.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mt 19:13-15. Little Children Brought to Christ. ( = Mr 10:13-16; Lu 18:15-17).
For the exposition, see on Lu 18:15-17.
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