Luke 9:46-50

Luke 9:46 (KJB)
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

It seems from the type of discussion, the disciples were still looking for an earthly kingdom and that may have prompted them to ask the question about who should be the greatest one. Previous to this Peter was called a rock and then he, John and James were taken up to the Mount of Transfiguration and this may have added to the desire to know who is the greatest. The word in the Greek for “greatest” carries with it the idea of “being great by comparison.” They were looking at some kind of rating as to who would be the best disciple thus making him the greatest.

Luke 9:47 (KJB)
And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,

Then Jesus gives them an object lesson by setting a child in the midst of them. There is an old unreliable tradition that this child was Ignatius of Antioch. (Mark 9:36 KJV) And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Jesus had embraced the little child according to Mark’s account.

Luke 9:48 (KJB)
And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

In many cultures today and in ancient times, children were viewed upon as insignificant and unimportant. So many times children were rejected. Jesus is stating that if anyone receives one of His children, one who is born again, receives Him. Not necessarily in salvation but as one who is not hostile to the Gospel in hopes it leads him to salvation. The world sees true Christians as insignificant and unimportant so when one is accepted or welcomed, they are welcoming Christ too. Just as Jesus told Paul on the road to Damascus that by persecuting the Christians, Paul was persecuting Him. The other side of the coin is that those who welcome Christians are welcoming Christ. We saw this with Joseph because the house of Potiphar was blessed because of Joseph. (Gen 39:5 KJV) And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

Then Jesus states that not only does the person receive the Lord Jesus Christ, but they are also receiving the one who sent Him and that is God the Father. (1 John 2:23 KJV) Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 1 John 2:23 gives a confirmation to what Jesus said. Those who do not have the Son do not have the Father but those who have the Son have the Father. For those who teach the Jews are saved without Christ are lying because as the Scripture teaches, without the Son you don’t have the Father. This means the modern Jew does not even have the Father and yet there are many ministries teaching the Jews are saved because of covenant relationship. The only covenant which saves, is the covenant of grace and without Christ, you do not have grace.

Luke 9:49 (KJB)
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

The disciples just having seen a boy freed from an indwelling devil by Jesus who showed He had great power over that devil, John may have thought that the one who was casting out devils in the name of Jesus was someone who was unauthorized or someone who was a fake trying to cash in on the popularity of Jesus. John then tells Jesus that since this man was not of their entourage, they had forbid him from continuing his ministry. John probably had wondered whether they should have done what they did in forbidding him since he seemed to be having success in casting out the devils from people. The Lord may be using this situation to teach that His followers will not always be connected to the twelve or even the seventy which the Lord sent out. In a statement to Thomas, the Lord states that they who have not seen and believed will be blessed. (John 20:29 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. This means that the followers of Jesus are going to be scattered all over the world and the majority of them will never meet this side of glory. So if a person is a Methodist and is bringing the true Gospel and you are a Presbyterian, you should not hinder their ministry.

Luke 9:50 (KJB)
And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

Jesus did not criticize John for this action, instead He corrected the error. What the disciples did was to put on an air of exclusivity that only they were empowered to bring the Gospel and no one else. In other words, they had abused their position and claimed to speak for Jesus when He did not speak. Jesus told them that someone who was truly casting out devils in His name would not be one who would readily speak evil of Jesus. The disciples had to realize that not everyone would be against them. If the disciples had taken on the attributes of the child which Jesus just explained to them, they may have backed off and listened to make sure the man was truly a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus wanted to disabuse the idea that only those twelve disciples were the Gospel givers because after Pentecost there was going to come thousands who would become saved and they too would begin to proclaim the Gospel along with accompanying signs and wonders. The disciples had to know that even though they may not personally know a person and if that person is proclaiming the true Gospel, then they are not against Christ or the disciples, even if the person proclaiming the Gospel is doing it differently than they did. This is a lesson for Christians today. If a person is giving the Gospel and they are not associated with our group or church, it means they are for us and not against us. (Mat 12:30 KJV) He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Matthew reverses the order saying that those who are not with us or are teaching a false gospel are against Christ and all the true believers.