Vol. 18, No. 46 – December 8, 2019
Outline for Chapter 9:
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
D. Activities of His Ministry, Luke 7:1-9:50.
12. Ministry of prediction, Luke 9:18-50.
Topics of Chapter 9:
6. The casting out of another demon, vs. 37-43a. This is a lesson on the refinement of faith. This scene is paralleled in Mat 17:14-18; Mark 9:14-27.
In Matthew and Mark, there is an added teaching from Jesus about faith with the analogy of faith the size of a mustard seed, Mat 17:19-21, (vs. 21, is not in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts, but is part of Mark 9:29). Mark gives the greatest detail about this scene.
Luke 9:37, “On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.”
After the Transfiguration, which probably happened at night, on the “next day,” HEXES HEMERA, Jesus, Peter, John, and James “came down from the mountain” and were greeted by the large crowd once again.
What a contrast this must have been for all four men, as they saw the radiant glory of the Kingdom of God in all its perfection to now be descending into sickness, sin, and unbelief among the worldly people in Satan’s cosmic system.
Luke 9:38, “And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy.”
Like several other scenes we have noted in Luke’s Gospels, Luke 8:42 for example, this boy is this man’s only begotten son, MONOGENES HUIOS, which is a type of Jesus who is God the Father’s only Son, John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9.
This man, “cried out,” which is the Verb BOAO, βοάω, “shout, cry out, or appeal to.” It has the sense of crying out for help here, as does “I beg you,” that uses DEOMAI, “beg, pray, beseech, request.” It was a frantic emotional appeal to Jesus for help; a form of petitionary intercessory prayer.
This man wanted Jesus to “look at,” EPIBLEPO his son, which reminds us of Moses’ healing in the wilderness regarding the poisonous serpents. In that scene, the people had to look at the standard of the Bronze Serpent to be healed, Num 21:6-9.
Num 21:9, “And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.”
In Luke’s scene, this man wanted Jesus to “look at” His son, which is a reversal of priorities for the faithful.
The faithful will look to Jesus and His Word to be saved, rather than wanting Jesus to look at them. It is a subtle but strikingly important difference when it comes to salvation and the faith-rest life of the believer. Jesus used this imagery when speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, which is a type of the Cross that Jesus would be lifted up onto. Anyone who “looks at” (i.e., believes in), the Cross of Jesus Christ will be saved. In addition, for the believer, we look back to the Cross for the experiential forgiveness of our sins in applying 1 John 1:9.
John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Cf. John 8:28-30; 12:32-36.
Most people want God to take note of their situation and plight and do something about it. They want God to come to them! But, greater faith is found in the one who takes note of God and His Word and therefore knows how God applies it to their situation and plight. They go to God, rather than demanding that He come to them!
This, coupled with addressing Jesus as “Teacher,” DIDASKALOS, rather than Lord, shows a subtle lack of faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Certainly this man knew Jesus could heal, and believed that He could, but did he have true faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior?
Luke 9:39, “And a spirit seizes him,
and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.”
This is the description of what this possessing demon would do to the boy. Here, this man calls it a “spirit,” PNEUMA.
- It seizes or “takes possession” of him, LAMBANO.
- It causes him to “suddenly scream out,” EXAIPHNES, “suddenly or unexpectedly,” with KRAZO, “call or cry out, scream.”
- It “throws him into convulsions,” SPARASSO, σπαράσσω, “to tear, convulse, throw into a (violent) spasm.”
- It causes him to “foam at the mouth,” APHROS, “foam or froth,” only used here in the NT. It is a medical term to describe the condition of an epileptic, cf. Mark 9:18-20.
- And, when it would “leave him,” APOCHOREO, it was with “difficulty,” MOGIS or MOLIS, “with difficulty, hardly, or with toil,” which also means it did not happen that often, and it would “maul or bruise him,” SUNTRIBO, “break, shatter, beat, or bruise.”
Combined, it means that the demon would cause severe physical harm to this boy causing him great pain. Luke, being a physician himself, uses many medical terms that appear like someone with epilepsy experiencing an epileptic seizure
The father calls it a lunatic illness, Mat 17:15, SELENIAZOMAI, σεληνιάζομαι meaning, “to be epileptic, or a lunatic,” saying the boy has lost his mind. But this was no common illness or mental disorder, it was demonic possession.
Luke 9:40, “I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not.”
This man had “begged,” or petitioned, DEOMAI, the “disciples,” MATHETES, “to cast out,” EKBALLO, this demon, yet “they could not,” OUK DUNAMAI, which suggests they did not have the power to do so. The father asking the disciples to cast out this demon probably occurred during their first missionary expedition noted in vs. 1-6.
It is interesting that Jesus gave them “power and authority,” DUNAMIS and EXOUSIA, over all the demons during their mission, but here we see they could not cast out this demon. Does this mean that Jesus did not give them the sufficient power to overcome this demon? No! It shows the lack of faith the disciples had in trying to exercise this demon, which Jesus will reprimand them later about according to Mat 17:19-20; Mark 9:28-29.
Mark 9:28-29, “When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer”.”
Mark makes is seem like a subtle thing, which it is, but something that was not the fault of the disciples, although it was. Apparently this kind of demon is only exorcised when accompanied with prayer, which the disciples must not have done. Instead, they tried to use the power they had to exorcise it, forgetting that that power was from God and not themselves. This point is made in Matthew’s account.
Mat 17:19-20, “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you”.”
Matthew does not mention prayer in his account, although later manuscripts added vs. 21, to give us the context. But when comparing Matthew with Mark and Luke, we see the whole story and the lack of faith in the disciples’ first mission when they did not pray to God the Father in the work that they wanted to perform. Therefore, we see that faith and prayer go hand-in-hand, (notice the pun), and without both, we do not have the all-powerful faith God has provided for us.
This scene is also similar to 2 King 4:29-37, when Elisha had his servant named Gehazi go to a Shunammite woman’s house to heal / raise her son. Gehazi, though following Elisha’s instructions, was not able to heal / raise the boy. Yet, when Elisha came, he prayed to God first and then raised the boy, vs. 33, and gave him back to her.
Therefore, in order to have the faith life God has designed and desires for us all to have, we first must believe that God can do something, (He has the all sufficient power to do it), and then ask Him to do it, (pray to Him in petition for the need or thing to be accomplished); believing He will and can do. This means we recognize the source of the power in our faith, God the Father! And, we do not put ourselves and our power in the lead.
So, we see two subtle examples of lacking faith; first in the boy’s father and then in the disciples. Both are given as object lessons for us to learn from by their mistakes, as I am sure they did too.
In fact, this was the lesson for the boy’s father in Mark 9:22-24, when he asked Jesus to help the boy saying, “But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Even though this is a first class “if,” meaning “if and you can,” the fact that he states it in any “if” statement brings a hint of doubt in this man’s mind, as subtle as it may be.
Mark 9:23-24, “And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ (notice the indignation in Jesus’ tone), All things are possible to him who believes.” 24Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief”.”
The boy’s father learned greater faith that day!
Luke 9:41, “And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here”.”
With the greater context of Matthew and Mark, using the example of the boy’s father and the disciples, we better understand Jesus’ response of disappointment, discouragement, and despair to the overall crowd. He addresses the entire “generation,” GENEA, “generation, offspring, family, race, or kind,” meaning first the people of Israel alive at that time, and secondly that era of people.
Notice also that this scene is in contrast to the great faith demonstrated by the Gentile Centurion in Luke 7:1-10.
Luke 7:9, “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith”.”
Yet, here the people are “unbelieving,” which is the Adjective APISTOS, ἄπιστος that means, “unbelieving, unbeliever, unfaithful, faithless, incredulous, or incredible (not in the good sense).” Therefore, our Lord rebukes them for their lack of faith.
With this, He also calls them “perverted,” using the Verb DIASTREPHO διαστρέφω that means, “perverted, turned away, seduced, opposed, or corrupted.” Luke and Matthew’s reading of “perverse” may echo Deut 32:5, 20. In classical Greek, it was used as a technical term that acquired moral overtones. According to the ethical system of ancient Stoics, “The nature of man, which is originally good and oriented to the good, is ‘twisted’ (DIASTREPHETAI) by bad teaching and example, and by environmental influences of all kinds.” Yet, we know that sin is within man, and this is that which perverts or corrupts his thinking away from God in unbelief.
In His rebuke, Jesus proclaims “how much longer shall I be with you,” showing the strain on His patience, especially after teaching and performing miracles over and over again, yet seeing much unbelief. In addition, this goes with several discussions He has had about going to Jerusalem and being lifted up. It will not be much longer now.
In addition He states, “and put up with you?” This statement uses, the Verb ANECHOMAI, ἀνέχομαι that means, “to bear with, endure, forbear, tolerate, receive, accept, or to have patience with.” This is used in all three synoptic gospels. As the Complete Biblical Library states, “After His meeting with the perfected, holy ones from heaven—Moses and Elijah—the contrast must have been so great that Jesus may have felt a deep reluctance to deal with these difficult and unbelieving men. Having to deal with difficult and unbelieving men was a tribulation so heavy that Jesus found it almost unbearable.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary.)
Yet, in compassion, grace, and love, Jesus commands the boy’s father to “bring your son here,” that uses the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb PROSAGO, προσάγω that means “bring toward, lead to, come near, or approach.” This word is used only four times in the NT, first here in Luke 9:41; then in Acts 16:20; 27:27; and 1 Peter 3:18.
Interestingly, in Classical Greek, it frequently embodied mostly cultic overtones with the sacrificial sense of “offering.” The worshiper would therefore bring the sacrifice to or before the deity, approaching it in reverence. This act in itself was part of the offering ritual whether the sacrifice was live or inanimate.
It also reminds us of Abraham bringing his only son Isaac before the Lord at His command for sacrifice in Gen 22:1-14. Because of Abraham’s great faith, God abundantly blessed him, vs. 15-18. This was a type of God the Father sacrificing His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as noted in 1 Peter 3:18, where PROSAGO is also used.
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Luke 9:42, “While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.”
In rebellion, the “demon,” DAIMONION, was not done abusing this boy, and in one final battering it “slammed” Him to the ground, which uses the Verb RHEGNUMI, ῥήγνυμι that means, “break, throw down, or dash to the ground,” that we noted in Luke 5:37, regarding putting new wine into old wineskins, cf. Mat 9:17; Mark 2:22; 9:18. Jesus was about to make this boy new, and needed to get the old demon out of him.
So, the demon threw him into a “convulsion,” the Verb SUSPARASSO, συσπαράσσω that means, “cause one to shake or convulse violently, throw into a fit.” It is only used here and Mark 9:20, for this scene. Its root word SPARASSO, “to tear, convulse, throw into a (violent) spasm,” was used in vs. 39. So SUSPARASSO is used for even more intensity in the type of convulsion or spasm the demon threw this boy into. Luke’s medical background once again provides vivid details of the physical effects of demonic possession in this instance.
Then, Jesus, “rebuked,” EPITIMAO, “rebuke, censure, warn, admonish,” which means to sharply reprimand someone expressing disapproval, cf. Luke 4:35, 39, 41; 8:24; 9:21, the “unclean spirit,” AKATHARTOS PNEUMA, cf. Luke 4:33; 8:29, and “healed,” IAOMAI, “healed, cured, restored,” cf. Luke 4:18; 5:17; 6:18, 19; 7:7; 8:47; 9:2, 11, the “boy,” PAIS.
Then Jesus, “gave him back to his father,” APODIDOMI AUTOS HO PATER AUTOS, which completes the analogy of Abraham and Isaac, as God gave Abraham back his son Isaac, just as God the Father received back His Son Jesus Christ in resurrection and ascension, after Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.
Luke 9:43, “And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples.”
As a result of this event, the people “were all amazed,” EKPLESSO, ἐκπλήσσω that means, “be amazed, overwhelmed, or strike with astonishment.” It is the word used in reference to the activities of Jesus and the effect it had on those who observed and heard Him, cf. Luke 2:48; 4:32.
“Greatness,” is the Noun MEGALEIOTES, μεγαλειότης that means, “greatness, grandeur, magnificence, or majesty,” with HO THEOS, “of God.” Thus, the manifestation of great power displayed by Jesus so overwhelmed / amazed the crowd that they knew it was an act of God.
MEGALEIOTES is only used here and Acts 19:27, and in 2 Peter 1:16 for Peter recalling the Transfiguration and proclaiming the majesty of Jesus Christ in that scene.
2 Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Therefore, this praise is similar to what the demon possessed man of the country of the Gerasenes did when he was healed by Jesus, Luke 8:39. As such, Luke ends this healing scene with the people praising God’s majesty as revealed through the works of Jesus.
In addition, it is also important to note that Jesus did not attract attention to Himself, but, as we see from Luke’s description, brought glory to God the Father.
Topics of Chapter 9:
7. The prediction of His crucifixion, vs. 43b-45. This is paralleled in Mat 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32.
In the second half of vs. 43, and through vs. 45, Jesus tells His disciples a second time He was going to be “delivered into the hands of men.” While the people “were marveling” at all the things that Jesus did, He turned to His disciples to renew His prediction of His Cross. The people saw a miracle, but Jesus wanted His disciples to see the Cross.
Luke 9:43b, “…But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples.”
In addition to “being amazed,” “all were marveling,” which is the other word Luke uses for people’s astonishment or amazement that is THAUMAZO, “wonder, admire, be astonished, and be amazed,” cf. Luke 1:21, 63; 2:18, 33; 4:22; 7:9; 8:25, regarding peoples’ reaction to Jesus and His works; “at all that He was doing,” just as we should in our lives every day.
As Jesus, turned to tell them about His suffering, He wanted to equate the “majesty of God” that astonished and amazed the people, would also be seen in His crucifixion. Not only was Jesus here to heal and cure from illness and possession, but He was here to suffer and die, and be raised again! This was His ultimate course or purpose that went beyond miracles.
Luke 9:44, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”
“Let these words sink into your ears” is literally “place these words into your ears,” using TITHEMI, “to put, set, place, or lay down,” in the Aorist, Middle, Imperative. It is an idiom that means, “learn well and remember what I am about to tell you.”
“Son of Man,” HUIOS ANTHROPOS, is used for the 7th time in Luke’s Gospel, out of 26 times he uses it in his Gospel. It is a favorite title for the Messiah that emphasizes His identity with humanity.
“Is going to be,” is stated a little more urgently in the Greek that uses the Present, Active, Indicative of the Verb MELLO that means, “is about to be, is intended, is purposed, etc.” BDAG states, “to be inevitable, be destined, or inevitable,” an action that follows a Divine decree
“Delivered up,” which is the Present, Middle, Infinitive of the Verb PARADIDOMI, παραδίδωμι that means, “handed over or deliver up,” into the hands of men,” EIS CHEIRAS ANTHROPOS.
PARADIDOMI has two predominant uses. The first is “to transfer responsibility,” Luke 1:2; 10:22; 12:58; 23:25.
Luke 23:25, “And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.”
The second is “to betray,” Luke 21:16; 22:4, 6, 21-22, 48.
Luke 22:48, “But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?””
Jesus will be handed over in both senses of the word. First, God will hand Him over to men, who will not receive Him as their king but unjustly condemn Him to death. In the process, He will secondly be betrayed by Judas and delivered to the Sanhedrin, who will hand Him over to the Romans, who will then try to give responsibility to another, (i.e., Herod), but will eventually hand Him over to the executioners. In other words, Jesus is destined to be delivered into the hands of men; He is going to be arrested, suffer, and die.
Therefore, once again Jesus is stating His mission and purpose for going to Jerusalem, as He told His disciples in Luke 9:22, and had the discussion with Moses and Elijah, (that Peter, James, and John overheard), during the Transfiguration, vs. 30-31. “So far, every confrontation with evil had resulted in an easy victory for Jesus; soon, He would begin a journey to confront evil in a fight to the death—His own death.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
Luke 9:45, “But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.”
“But they did not understand,” uses the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of the Verb AGNOEO, ἀγνοέω that means they continue to, “not know, be ignorant, not understand, ignored, or disregarded.” As we have noted previously, the disciples did not understand what Jesus had to accomplish, until after He accomplished it.
Luke then says they did not understand because, “it was concealed from them,” that uses the Perfect, Middle, Participle of the Verb PARAKALUPTO, παρακαλύπτω that means, “cover beside, conceal, hide, or veil.” This word is only used here in the NT. In classical Greek PARAKALUPTO is used literally to mean, “cover by hanging something beside” and therefore, “cloak, disguise, or conceal.” In other words, their spiritual minds were unable to comprehend this truth because they shared the common Jewish viewpoint that saw the Messiah only as the coming King. As a result, they saw Jesus in that sense only and His lessons about suffering and dying were “concealed” or “hidden” from them.
Luke states it in a way that looks like it was not their fault, as this was done, “so that they would not perceive it,” that uses the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive of the Verb AISTHANOMAI, αἰσθάνομαι that means, “understand or perceive.” This word is also only used here in the NT. It refers to perception or intellectual understanding. Yet, this word implicates a lack of wisdom and insight that would have enabled them to perceive adequately what Jesus was saying in advance of its occurrence, given the plain warnings of Jesus. But instead, they continued to remain spiritually dense and confused.
We also see that “they were afraid (the Imperfect of PHOBEO) to ask Him about this statement.” Why did they not ask Jesus about this statement?
- They did not want to reveal their ignorance. Given their discussions about who is greater in the next verse, if they asked about this that would reveal their lacking.
- They did not want to hear any bad news.
- They did not want to lose Jesus.
- They did not want to lose the Kingdom come, which is the most probable.
Matthew and Mark are not so gentle with the disciples’ lack of perception here.
Mat 17:22-23, “And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; 23and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.”
In Matthew’s account, they also were told about His resurrection, yet they still were “deeply grieved,” SPHODROS, “greatly or exceedingly,” with LUPEO, λυπέω, “grieve, distress, sorrow, pain (someone), mourn, be sorrowful, or sad.” Their emotions took over because of their perceived loss of Jesus.
Mark 9:30-32, “From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.”
Mark, like Luke uses the Imperfect, Active, Indicative of AGNOEO and PHOBEO, but does not say it was “concealed from them.” Therefore, like Matthew, he places the ignorance on the shoulders of the disciples in their lack of understanding, and that their emotions were running too high, so that they did not fully comprehend what Jesus was saying to them, and that they did not want to believe it because it meant they would lose Him, even though He said He would be raised on the third day.
Therefore, because of their emotional revolt of the soul, they were unable to comprehend and understand what Jesus was saying to them at this time. Their emotions ran so high that they did not even want to ask a follow up question for clarification from Jesus.
1.) We must keep our emotions in check, so that we are able to learn, understand, and apply God’s Word in our lives. If we let our emotions control our soul, we will not be able to learn or apply God’s Word to the situations of life, especially in times of trials, tribulations, or disasters.
2.) Sometimes we get to playing church and we are afraid to say we do not understand or know something with the result we do not ask questions. That is the mistake these disciples make. We should learn from their mistake. We should not be afraid of asking questions about God and His Word when we have them. It is by seeking the things we do not know that we come to know Jesus better, which is God’s goal and desire for us. In addition, we should ask God, in prayer, to get to know Him better, James 1:5-8.
Topics of Chapter 9:
8. The argument among the apostles as to who was the greatest, vs. 46-50. This is paralleled in Mat 18:1-6, and Mark 9:33-37. Mark gives the greatest detail about this scene and bridges what Matthew and Luke tell. Luke also records that the disciples had this same argument after the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:24-30. Cf. also Mark 10:35-37.
Luke 9:46, “An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.”
You would think that after the Transfiguration the disciples would be humbled and obedient to the Lord’s will. Yet, on the contrary, they became ambitious. They were thinking of the crown and ignored the Cross as they were arguing as to who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. They were desirous of vainglory. This is the warning of 1 John 2:16.
1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
“Argument,” is the Noun DIALOGISMOS, διαλογισμός that means, “thought, inward reasoning, doubt, questioning.” In the language of the Greek philosophers it denoted, “verbal interaction and debate.” As such it was used for the process of deliberating, considering, reckoning, weighing, and discussing issues. So, it literally means, “to argue about differences of opinion.” In the NT, it is primarily used with a negative connotation where the inner life/thought causes both sinful and carnal motives.
This argument, coming right after Jesus once again proclaimed He would have to suffer in Jerusalem, must also have been taxing on His soul, as the disciples’ were unable to understand what Jesus was trying to teach them. As it appears, their attitude displayed immediately following His statement was one of self-centeredness, rather than mission; the mission of Christ.
Jesus was thinking about what He would have to endure and suffer on behalf of others; the disciples were arguing about which of them would have the highest rank in the kingdom. Can you imagine what Jesus was thinking at this time about them! Yet, Jesus kept on thinking of others, even as they were thinking of themselves.
Therefore, Jesus tried to put the thought life in proper perspective with this illustration of a child, who represents the principle that “he that is least among you is the greatest, (MEIZON, used in the superlative degree).” He was trying to drive home the thought life of humility that leads to service of others, as He had within His soul.
Luke 9:47, “But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side.”
“Jesus,” (IESOUS), “knew,” (OIDA), “their thinking,” (DIALOGISMOS, “thought, inward reasoning, doubt, or questioning), that came from their “heart,” (KARDIA). In other words, this was what was cycling through their soul at this time due to arrogance led by the OSN. Jesus again supernaturally perceived their thoughts.
To answer their question, which they did not present to Jesus but to each other, Jesus “took a child (PAIDION) and stood him by His side.” Jesus identified the child with Himself, and vice versa, in this action. He used the child for this object lesson to the disciples to rebuke them by embracing a child; someone too small, too weak, and too helpless to be great. The child was the lowliest member in the society, without power and authority. This reminds us of Jesus being born in a lowly state as a child born in a manger.
Luke 9:48, “And said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great”.”
Jesus’ response has two sections in this verse. The first has to do with our relationship with Jesus and the Father. The second has to do with our status in the Kingdom of God.
First, we have Jesus’ comparative response. In it, He uses the third class “if” statement, (HOS EAN and the Subjunctive Mood of DECHOMAI, “receive or accept”), that presents the condition of uncertainty of fulfillment but likely. In other words, maybe you will and maybe you will not.
To “receive” someone in the ancient Near Eastern world meant hospitality, to welcome as family, and to care for one’s needs. Therefore, to receive means, to treat like family.
To complete the “if statement,” the Protasis, He added “this child in My Name,” PAIDION EPI HO EGO ONOMA. Here, the child is the helpless stranger with a message. He is the messenger. And his message is “the name of Jesus,” which means the gospel and Word of God. Therefore, we have a helpless, humble messenger teaching the Word of God.
In addition, “in My name” links our motivation to His. To do something in someone else’s name is to act on his or her behalf. This is our service. To receive the helpless as Jesus would receive the helpless. In other words, we are to give the gospel to those who need it, having no expectation of reward.
Next, is the “then statement,” the Apodosis, “receives Me,” the Present, Middle, Indicative of DECHOMAI with EGO. Therefore, if we receive the message from the messenger we receive Jesus, that is, salvation, an eternal relationship with our Lord, including our union with Him. We receive Him and are part of His family!
Jesus then compounds it by using another third class “if,” with the premise of “receiving Him,” that has the “then statement” of “receives the one who sent (APOSTELLO) Him,” which we know is God the Father, the Sender of the messengers and message. This also means we get the Eternal One, and that we get heaven / the Kingdom of God. Therefore, if we receive the child (the message/Gospel), we get Jesus (salvation), when we get Jesus, we get the Father too, (Heaven / the Kingdom of God)!
As the child is received as a representative of Jesus, so Jesus is received as the representative of God the Father. This leads to what Jesus will teach in Luke 10:16.
“God sent Jesus to be the ultimate example of someone helping the helpless. Jesus receives humanity, welcoming sinners despite their sin and meeting the deepest needs of the least deserving. This practice essentially removes worthiness as a criterion for anything in the new kingdom. People are to be welcomed and served because of their relationship to the King, not because of their rank, power, or ability to benefit those who treat them nicely.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary.)
The Second lesson is regarding status in the Kingdom of God, i.e., heaven.
“For the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”
“Least,” is the Adjective MIKROS that is used here in regard to a person’s status in the earthly realm compared to “great,” which is the Adjective MEGAS used here in regard to a person’s status in the Kingdom of God / Heaven. The term “least” has nothing to do with rank, talent, or importance but refers instead to the one most willing to humble himself in order to serve others, cf. Mark 9:35.
Mark 9:35, “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all”.”
So the object lesson includes:
1) Children owe obedience and need discipline and instruction, just as the believer should and does.
2) Children are generally considered unimportant, inferior, and as having no status. This is the principle of having humility.
3) Whoever received a child in His name, is receiving Him.
4) Those things in the world that are considered unimportant or insignificant to the world are important to Him. 5) If they are important to Jesus, then they are important to God the Father.
6) We should receive those who have no status (in contrast to the disciples’ argument), as if they had the most status, i.e., those who are least are great!
7) If we humble ourselves in this life and serve one another, as Jesus did, we will be great in the eyes of God, and greatly rewarded in the eternal state.
Jesus makes a powerful point by putting this child at His side and saying, in effect, the least of persons in society are greater than you. It is a humbling thing. The attitude adjustment Jesus teaches His followers is to turn them from pride to humility. Given that they were arguing “who is the greatest,” tells us that they all had some degree of pride or arrogance within their soul. And, compared to what Jesus had just told them about His impending suffering in Jerusalem, this must have seemed quite childish in the Lord’s eye. Therefore, He uses a child to make His point.
In using the child, the Lord teaches why being like children makes you great in the kingdom. The logic is given to us, as the child is great because the child brings Jesus with him, i.e., “receive this child in My name.” “In my Name,” means the teaching of Jesus, the message of Jesus, the gospel of Jesus preached. Therefore, the child equates to the message of Christ, the Gospel.
And with the “if” statement it means, if we receive the child / the Gospel, we receive Jesus, i.e., salvation and union with Christ. Therefore, Jesus is telling them that the message, (the Gospel that gives us Jesus), is greater than the messenger (the Apostles). Even if the message comes from a little child, the Lord is offering Himself to the world in the message. Therefore, the Christ preached is greater than the preacher of Christ.
Why is that so great? It is because in receiving Jesus you also receive God the Father. Which is greater the child or God? Neither, because they are one and the same; the gospel, Jesus, the Father. For this reason the messenger is always lower than the message. The main thing is not the giver of the message, but God in the message.
We need to know this especially today when preachers, their gifts, and their platforms are so widely idolized and self-aggrandized. Knowing that the message is greater than the messenger keeps us from arguing about who the “great preachers” are. It keeps us from being like the Corinthians in 1 Cor 3:4-5.
We have to remember that the preachers serve the message, and the truly great preachers do not boast in their preaching ability or verbal prowess. The truly great preachers boast in the Lord! As such, there should be no famous preachers, only a famous Savior.
Therefore, the Lord checks our pride because the message will be lost in our arguing about who is “greatest.” If our argument continues unchecked, we will offer the world more of ourselves rather than more of Jesus. Unfortunately, sometimes fallen men love themselves too much and exalt Christ too little.
The King, the greatest of all leaders in the kingdom of God, is the One who made Himself the servant of all humanity, suffering our penalty for sin, receiving all who trust in Him, and giving us eternal life. Those who imitate the King share a measure of His kingly status. In the kingdom of God, we are to serve others as though they were kings. As the hierarchy has been inverted in the new kingdom, the true leaders act like servants. Therefore, the greatest saints are the unknown people in our churches who quietly and faithfully serve Him.
Matthew also adds a warning for not operating this way and causing some to stumble in Mat 18:6, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Mark also does in Mark 9:42.
Then, in vs. 49-50, came a real life example. This is paralleled only in Mark 9:38-40, with an additional teaching in Mark 9:41. This probably happened when the disciples were out on their first solo missionary journey, vs. 1-6.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-129 & 19-130 & 19-131
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!