Origens Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew by Origen
19. The Parallel Passages in Mark and Luke.
But let us consider also the like account in the other Evangelists. Mark, then, says, that the Twelve reasoned in the way as to which of them was the greatest. Wherefore He sat down, and called them, and teaches who is the greatest, saying, that he who became last of all by means of his moderation and gentleness, would as the greatest obtain the first place, so that he did not receive the place of one who was being ministered unto, but the place of one who ministered, and that not to some but not to others, but to all absolutely; for attend to the words, |If any man would be first he shall be last of all, and minister of all.| And next to that He says, that |He,| -- Jesus to-wit -- |took a little child, and set him in the midst of His own disciples, and taking him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of the little children in My name receiveth Me.| But what was the little child which Jesus took and placed in His arms, according to the deeper meaning in the passage? Was it the Holy Spirit? And to this little child, indeed, some were likened, of whom He said, |Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in My name receiveth Me.| According to Luke, however, the reasoning did not arise spontaneously in the disciples, but was suggested to them by the question, |which of them should be greatest.| And Jesus, seeing the reasoning of their heart, as He had eyes that see the reasonings of hearts, -- seeing the reasoning of their heart, -- without being questioned, according to Luke, |took the little child and set him,| not in the midst alone, as Matthew and Mark have said, but now, also, |by His side,| and said to the disciples, not only, |Whosoever shall receive one such little child,| or, |Whosoever shall receive one of such little ones in My name receiveth Me,| but, now going even a step higher, |Whosoever shall receive this little child in My name receiveth Me.| It is necessary, therefore, according to Luke, to receive in the name of Jesus that very little child which Jesus took and placed by His side. And I know not if there be any one who can interpret figuratively the word, |Whosoever shall receive this little child in My name.| For it is necessary that each of us should receive in the name of Jesus that little child which Jesus then took and set by His side; for he lives as immortal, and we must receive him from Jesus Himself in the name of Jesus; and without being separated from him, Jesus is with him who receives the little child, so that according to this it is said, |Whosoever shall receive this little child in My name receiveth Me.| Then, since the Father is inseparable from the Son, He is with him who receives the Son. Wherefore it is said, |And whosoever shall receive Me receives Him that sent Me.| But he who has received the little child, and the Saviour, and Him that sent Him, is least of all the disciples of Jesus, making himself little. But, so far as he belittles himself, to that extent does he become great; as that very thing, which caused him the more to make himself little, contributes to his advance in greatness; for attend to what is said, |He that is least among you all the same is great;| but in other manuscripts we read, |The same shall be great.| Now, according to Luke, |If any one shall not receive the kingdom of God as the little child, he shall in no wise enter therein.| And this expression is ambiguous; for either it means that he who receives the kingdom of God may become as a little child, or, that he may receive the kingdom of God, which has become to him as a little child. And perhaps here those who receive the kingdom of God receive it, when it is as a little child, but in the world to come no longer as a little child; and they receive the greatness of the perfection in the spiritual manhood, so to speak, which perfection is manifested to all who in the present time receive it, when it is here as a little child.