In the Gospel of Mark, we encounter an interesting exchange of questions.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”

Mark 10:17-18 (NIV)

I’m stopping right here after Jesus’ response to the young man to ask you some questions. Why did Jesus question the young man? Why did Jesus point out that only God is good? Was Jesus denying his role in the Godhead, or was he being “modest”? Let’s consider the rest of Jesus’ response to the young man.

You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”

Mark 10:19 (NIV)

What do we know about Jesus? Jesus was fully man and God (Titus 2:13, Romans 1:2-4). We know that Jesus knew who he was (John 8:58, Matthew 9:6). As a man, Jesus was without sin (1 Peter 2:22). Therefore, we can say that Jesus wasn’t being modest when he asked the young man why he called him good. Jesus knew he was good because he is God, which is evident in his reply in Mark 10:19. 

Follow His commandments. In other words, we can view Mark 10:19 as if Jesus said, “You know what I’ve said. Now do what I’ve said.” Essentially, Jesus pointed out to the young man that if he was calling him good, and only God is good, then the young man recognizes Jesus as God. This brings into question the use of the term “good.”

There’s a worldly concept that “good” people go to Heaven. The odds are, if you ask non-Christians what someone needs to do to go to Heaven, they will tell you that you need to be a “good” person. That’s if they believe in Heaven. Even Christians might say we must believe in Jesus and be “good” people. We also use the word “good” when describing people we like and respect: “Tom’s a good guy. He’s trustworthy and will do right by you. There’s no better mechanic around.” Things were no different in Biblical times. 

Therefore, we see another factor at work. Is the young man calling Jesus “good” because he’s a respected teacher, or is he calling Jesus “good” because he recognizes his divine authority? 

We know the young man didn’t see Jesus as God because of how he responded to Jesus’ answers to his question.

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Mark 10:20-22 (NIV)

The young man chose not to listen to what the “Good teacher” told him because he didn’t believe that Jesus was God. Thus, we know that the young man only used the term “Good teacher” as a means of, at best, respect for Jesus’ position as a teacher. Indeed, it wasn’t out of respect for Jesus as God. 

The young man’s response makes me wonder about myself. How often have I asked God to tell me what to do and then didn’t do it? I’ve read the Bible and know what it says, yet, I know I don’t always do what it says.

We must be careful to not be like the young man, going to God and asking him what to do, and then, when he tells us, not doing what he told us to do. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.