Ver. 5,6. Mark hath it thus, Mar_9:37, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. Then he addeth, Mar_9:42, And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Our Lord having declared that the little ones before mentioned shall be greatest in the kingdom of God, here cometh to show the care which he in his providence will take for them; that their friends shall be his friends, and their enemies his enemies: Whoso receiveth such a little child, that is, a humble Christian. In the next verse it is opened by, one that believeth in me. By receiving I conceive is here to be understood the showing of any favour or kindness to them: Christ declares that he would take it as done to himself. It is much the same with Mat_10:40-42. Mark addeth, He that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. The reason is, because he and his Father are one, and the Father takes any kindness done to Christ as if it were done to himself, and the Son takes any kindness or unkindness done to any humble, believing soul, as if it were done to himself: see Mat_25:34-46.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones, &c. As offending signifieth the laying of a stumbling block before any, so it signifieth any motion or temptation to them to sin against God, whether it be by flattering or frowning arguments, though the latter seemeth rather to be understood here; so, by offending, it signifies the doing them any harm upon Christ’s account, because they own him, and make a profession of his gospel, which, besides that it is a stumblingblock upon which they fall and suffer as to their bodies and outward concerns, is also a stumbling block to their souls, such dangers being strong temptations to Christians, to turn them aside from the right paths of truth and holiness.
It were better for him that a millstone, &c.; mulov onikov, a stone in such a mill as asses were wont to draw, because of the heaviness of it. Some think our Saviour in this phrase alludes to some punishment of notorious malefactors, in use not amongst the Jews, but some other nations, by tying a stone about their necks, and throwing them into the sea: but whether it be such an allusion or no, is of no great moment; the phrase signifieth a certain destruction, both in regard of the weight of the stone and the depth of the sea. He saith, It is better that a millstone, &c., because of the punishment which shall be inflicted on such persons beyond this life.