Why callest thou me good? (Mark 10:17-23)


In Mark 10:17, we see an account of a man who comes running to Jesus, kneels down and then asks ‘Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’. The simple nature of the man’s actions, in running and kneeling has the appearance of someone sincere or earnest (This looks so genuine doesn’t it?). Secondly, what a great question! This is the kind of question we as Christian’s desire to be asked so we can share God’s salvation with others. However, Christ’s response to this man is anything but that, His immediate words are “Why callest thou me good?”.

That’s a strange response….let’s understand why.

1. The man’s heart was not sincere
Christ didn’t share the salvation with this man because what seemed like a sincere and earnest question on the outside was not on the inside. Jesus’ reply to him was ‘Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.’ Surely Jesus is good. How could He not be, He is God. He responded this way simply because the man had a wrong (non-biblical) perspective on what it meant to be “good”. And so Jesus challenges that by removing human comparison (which was what he was doing), and moving the benchmark for “good” against whom it matters, GOD himself.

2. The man’s heart was self-deceived
Jesus with His infinite grace doesn’t shrug of this man, but takes the time to help unravel the man’s spiritual blindness. Jesus does this by then repeating 6 of the commandments, to which the man immediately replies that he has obeyed all of these commandments from his youth. Clearly this man had built up his own measure of ‘good’ and had arrived at a place where he thought he deserved to inherit eternal life. Sadly as we know, “good” people don’t inherit eternal life, only those who believe Jesus Christ and His atoning work (Ephesians 2:8).

3. The man’s heart loved wealth
All this reaches it’s climax as Jesus goes outside of these 6 commandments to the heart of the man, as Jesus tells him to sell everything he has, give it to the poor and then he would have eternal life. The man’s response? “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions”. The man loved his wealth so much so, that he desired it above the eternal life he came seeking. It’s amazing how this man could have so much obedience, but fail to see an area of sin that he had not accounted for. He loved wealth more than He loved God!

This begs questions to us as believers – are we perhaps experiencing spiritual blindness today? Have we arrived at a place where we think we are ‘good’? Is our comparison Christian men and woman or is it God Himself? Let’s go to Jesus today and ask Him to open our eyes so that we may see.

Hint: This portion of scripture particularly Mark 10:23 goes on to debunk the ‘prosperity gospel’

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