Luke 9:47

ESV But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side
NIV Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.
NASB But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, took a child and had him stand by His side,
CSB But Jesus, knowing their inner thoughts, took a little child and had him stand next to him.
NLT But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side.
KJV And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,

What does Luke 9:47 mean?

As Jesus and the disciples travel from the Mount of Transfiguration to Capernaum, they engage in two different conversations. Jesus reminds them of His coming betrayal and crucifixion (Mark 9:30–31). Out of Jesus' earshot, the disciples argue over which of them will be greatest in God's kingdom (Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:33).

Scholars are torn as to the significance of Jesus deliberately bringing a child into the conversation. Some say Jesus is reminding the disciples of how He cares for children. They should remember how He saved Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:49–56) and the boy who was tortured by a demon (Luke 9:37–43). He will go on to praise the straightforward trust expressed by children. He will defend them and insist on taking time to value them (Luke 10:21; 17:2; 18:15–17). The disciples might also remember how Jesus cared for the marginalized like the sinful woman (Luke 7:36–50), the man with a legion of demons (Luke 8:26–33), and the woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8:43–48). This interpretation certainly aligns with Jesus' words that, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me" (Luke 9:48).

But Jesus also says, "For he who is least among you all is the one who is great" (Luke 9:48b). Jesus is also talking about the humble estate of children. They have no social or political power. To be great in the kingdom, Jesus' followers must take on the humble position of a child and serve others (Mark 9:35). Jesus exemplifies this on the cross and gives a practical example when He washes the disciples' feet (John 13:1–20).

Matthew states that the disciples ask Jesus who would be greatest without mentioning any hesitation (Matthew 18:1). Mark and Luke seem to say that Jesus responds to their thoughts, not their question. It's possible they remained silent for a time but eventually did ask. James and John's mother was certainly bold enough (Matthew 20:20–21). Mark and Luke may not have included the disciples' direct question as a way of continuing to show that Jesus knew and corrected peoples' thoughts (Luke 5:22; 6:8; 7:39–40). It's also true that Jesus responded to the heart posture beneath the question, perhaps more so than the question itself (Matthew 18:1–4; Mark 9:33–37).

Mark 9:33 places them in "the house" in Capernaum. The only house mentioned in Capernaum that Jesus stays in is that of Andrew and Peter (Mark 1:29). This child may be related to the brothers.
What is the Gospel?
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