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, verse 17-21.
Do you grasp the enormity of what Jesus is saying to the man?
This stranger runs up to Jesus while Jesus is walking to Jerusalem. Jesus is walking to Jerusalem knowing He will meet adulation and crowds who will, five days hence, watch Him be murdered. This man doesn’t know any of that. He has heard about Jesus and wants to meet Him. Perhaps the man is full of himself and wants a little of Jesus’ fame to rub off on him. Perhaps the man is a spy from the Sanhedrin, sent out to size up Jesus before He gets to the city walls. Perhaps the man is genuinely curious, confused in life and looking for a meaningful existence.
In truth, we don’t know. All we know about the man (at this point) is that he ran up to Jesus and assumed a position of worship. The man then tells Jesus He is “good.” Jesus’ reply: He doesn’t say He isn’t good. He simply reminds the man of the depth of his words, that if He’s saying Jesus is a ‘good teacher’ then he is insinuating that Jesus the Good Teacher is God because “no one is good, except God alone.”
Enormous. That definitely falls into the “get more than you bargained for” category.
How do you think the man felt when Jesus said this to him? Do you think he was bewildered, shocked to be called out and called back? Based on later verses, we learn that the man is wealthy and conceited; it’s likely that he is trying to test Jesus for some unknown purpose not the least of which is pride. Jesus knows all this and yet He doesn’t smite the proud man. Instead, He offers the man every chance to come clean and have a genuine relationship. “You say I’m God. Tell me: what do you REALLY believe?” Can you imagine Jesus’ penetrative stare?
I don’t know about you, but that’s daunting for me. All too often, I try to hide my sins from God, thinking that if I do x, y or z, Jesus won’t know about it; ludicrous. When I read verses like these where Jesus makes Himself known obliquely yet boldly, I’m reminded that He does the same thing to me every day. He is always beckoning me in His word, my conscience, my schedule and a thousand ways every day to come to Him with everything. Instead of smacking me down, which I deserve, Jesus blows my mind by letting me come to the conclusion that He is who He says He is and He’s made it ok for me to come to Him.
That’s one of the things Jesus did for the man in these verses. He tipped His hand just a little in order to let the man know that He was in the game to win, specifically to win the man’s soul. He does the same thing for you and me.
Lord, I believe You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are Him and You are good.
Read Mark 10, verses 17-31.