Mark 10:18 (ESV) — And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
Can you imagine the people who had encounters with Jesus during his earthly ministry who had no idea who he was? Isn’t it incredible to consider that the God of the universe was walking around in human flesh living out his life beside other folks? It baffles the mind. Think about the people who brushed by him without knowing who He was? Think of the people who got frustrated with Him because He didn’t build something fast enough or respond to a story the way they wanted Him to.
One of the wild stories in the Gospels of encounters with Jesus is the rich young ruler. He heard about Jesus and approached him as a great teacher. He wanted to hear the great teacher give him some wisdom, so he asked Him a question about inheriting eternal life. But in this exchange, one of the things the rich young ruler called Jesus is good. Jesus used the opportunity to push him to the limits of his thoughts.
Our passage reveals Jesus’ response to him, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus wants to know why the man chose those words. Why does He want to know this? Because only God is truly good. No one is good except God. The Bible makes clear that all men born under Adam are sinners. No one is good. Not even one. So, Jesus wants to know why the man chooses to call Him good if only God is good.
Jesus wasn’t denying that He was good or that He was God. In fact, His question is seeking to unearth why the man chose to use this language. Does he understand who Jesus is? Is he connecting the dots that Jesus is God in the flesh? The man wasn’t connecting those dots. And Jesus doesn’t connect them for him. However, I do find it fascinating that in this exchange we see a clear principle of teaching from the Scripture: God alone is good. Goodness is an attribute that only belongs to God. He alone is the fountain of all that is good.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do you think Jesus takes this approach with the rich young ruler?
- Why didn’t Jesus tell him that He was God? Why did He let the conversation go elsewhere?
- What do we learn about the goodness of God in this passage? What does this tell us about man?
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