Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.'” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
No One Is Good But God
Life is always a comparison of what is good in this world and the promise of good in the world beyond. Man has struggled with the short vision of now instead of hoping for a greater blessing in a place he cannot see. Sin makes man impatient. He is convinced that everything that will make him happy is found in the vapor of life. Jesus met a vibrant young man who came to the right place seeking the right answers. Running to the Lord, the man knelt before Jesus showing his earnest desire to find truth. How the heart of Jesus must have burst at the sight of such a powerful example of faith. The young man wanted to know what to do that he could have eternal life. Few men seek these answers and to find someone so emboldened to come directly to Jesus for help was gratifying. The Lord reminded the man that the Father grants eternal life because He alone is the One who is good. This is a remarkable statement by Jesus but it shows His deep love for the work of His Father. Glory was reserved for God.
Jesus quickly recounted the basis of the Law to the young man pointing him in the direction he already knew. The answer by Jesus was not to focus on one part of the Law excluding the others. Rather, Jesus was building a platform to address the real problem the young man must face. With excitement the young man answered he had done all that Jesus said and felt secure in the knowledge that everything in his life was in order. The rich young man had led an exemplar life of devotion to the Lord. Great joy swelled in his heart as he felt blessed to be an example of keeping the Law. It was then he heard the words that crushed his hopes of eternal life. He had run to Jesus begging the most important question asked by man. His heart was fully set on doing all he could for God and wanted the approval of the Lord to confirm his belief. What he heard was the last thing he expected. Jesus told him to sell his great wealth giving all the proceeds to the poor – and as a humble man follow Jesus. He ran to Jesus in the beginning but walked away slowly in despair.
No one is good but God. A man came seeking eternal life and left without it. An opportunity for a man to find happiness crushed by a way of life he could not endure. Love for God thought to be a powerful motivation in life only to discover that love for money was greater. The goodness of God is without measure. Before Jesus answered the young man’s question, He wanted everyone to know the answer to eternal life comes from God alone. There is one answer because there is one way and one truth. Jesus must have known immediately what this man was seeking and the love he had for his wealth. The answer was going to be a harsh reality for the rich man. Riches can be loved more than God but eternal life comes from the goodness of the Lord alone. This demands separation from the things of this world. Salvation cannot be given when the heart loves mammon and God. Too often men try to serve the will of God with the pleasures of life feeling justified they are righteous. No one is good but One, that is God. His goodness demands complete devotion to all the word and nothing can stand between God and man. The rich young ruler allowed the wealth of this world to take away the hope of heaven.
God is good in everything He does. The answer Jesus gave the man was harsh and the only salvation the man could find was in the goodness of God because that was truth. Serving the Lord demands righteousness on His terms. The word of God has remained unchanged from time beginning. Throughout the generations of man’s existence, he has tried to find goodness in himself only to find failure. God alone is good and if man is to find the answer to eternal life, he must follow all the commands of the Lord. The rich young ruler walked away from the Son of God because he loved money more than eternal life. How sad. How tragic. God is still good. Hope remains when we follow all the commandments of the goodness of God so we may find the eternal goodness of God in heaven.
We shall see Him face to face, if we now see Him by faith. (Augustine, Ennaration on Psalm XCVII, c. 415)