** Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. ** Mark 10:18
A while ago, we talked about the Sovereign Goodness of God, and how we can trust His decisions and His dealings with us individually and with cities and nations. God’s sovereignty is something we can all think about when we watch the news and see the hardships and devastation of war, crime and disease. We can also remember His goodness, His blessings, and His mercy on people groups around the world. Because no matter how painful war and disease and violence can be, God’s goodness is there, touching the lives and hearts of those affected by these terrible things.
Knowing that God is good, always, and works His goodness into every situation, I was caught off guard by Jesus’ statement when reading this passage in Mark 10. Jesus, who is God, rebukes the rich man when he calls Him good. Why would He do that? Wasn’t Jesus good?
If we take a quick look at a concordance, we see that the word ‘good’ appears almost 800 times in the Bible.
( Don’t panic, we won’t look at all of them. 🙂
Genesis 1:4….And God saw the light, that it was good…
Genesis 1:31…And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
1 Samuel 29:6,9…Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the Lord liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day:…I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God:
John 10:14…I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
John 10:32,33…Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?…The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
John 10 seems to get to the heart of the matter. Good =God. Goodness comes from God. Good is the absence of evil. Good is kin to perfection. Goodness is the fruit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Good = God.
It seems that everywhere that Jesus went, people were trying to figure out who He was. In our text, the one who came running to talk to Jesus only had partial understanding of Who Jesus was. He recognized Him as a Master Teacher, based on the clarity He gave regarding the Old Testament. He brought it to life. He helped people see that it wasn’t about following every detail of the Law but it was a matter of heart and soul. That they shouldn’t just follow the rules but they should be aware of how people are treated, of how they are manifesting the Spirit of the Law. Are they Just? Fair? Honest? Merciful? Gracious? Forgiving?
Or are they cruel? judgmental? critical? gossiping? harsh? bitter? unforgiving?
Do they think they are God by what they know? Or do they represent God by what they are and what they do?
What I find interesting is that Jesus said that only God is good. Was He challenging this person to see Him as more than a teacher and a good person? Was He rebuking the man or encouraging him to open his eyes a bit more? Was the man so used to the hypocrisies of the religious leaders that he refused to see Jesus for more than he could see and hear? Was he only looking with human eyes and not with the eyes of faith?
Or was Jesus making a comment about our tendency to make God smaller than He really is, relegating Him to an inferior version of Himself? If you look at the rest of this story, Jesus reminds the man of the Commandments. Do them and you will have eternal life, which is what the man wanted to really know.
How can he be sure he can get to heaven?
How does the man reply to Jesus’ list? ….Oh, yes, I’ve done all that…my whole life…I have been …..GOOD!!!!!!
This man thinks he is just as good as Jesus!!!! He does good things. He treats people well. And he has been blessed for it, just like Job was.
The difference between this man and Job is that Job was willing to lose his worldly possessions to the Sovereignty of God. But not this man. He thought he did everything right and DESERVED to go to Heaven. But when Jesus poked at his real god, his possessions…he said…no way. Not interested. I am not giving up my riches, my things, my comfort, my prestige, my position in the community. That’s a deal breaker.
I think he was looking more for a pat on the back from Jesus and that his kneeling before Him was just an act. It was a quid pro quo. ‘ I’ll kneel to you, as long as you kneel to me.’
And Jesus wouldn’t yield. Jesus could have said to him…’Sorry, guy, it doesn’t work that way.’…but He didn’t. He was silent. He had said enough. Just enough for the man to see his own heart. He wasn’t really looking for permission to go to Heaven, he was looking to be exalted to Heaven. With lots of applause and lots of fanfare….because he was so GOOD.
Good in this world is never enough. Because our good is always tainted with something ugly.–Selfishness, or pride, or self-importance, or used as a bargaining chip with God.
But God’s goodness is perfect and just and holy and without any secret agenda.
Unfortunately, this man wanted to DO something to earn enough points to get into Heaven. What he didn’t understand is that he didn’t need to Do anything else. He needed to BELIEVE something else. In Someone else.
He was right in front of him. He was at his feet. He could literally reach out and touch Jesus. He was in front of perfect goodness.
And he missed it.