Today's verses are Mark 10:18,19: "And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" A rich, young man comes to Jesus and asks him the most important question anyone can ever ask, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (see yesterday's blog). Like most people in the world, he thinks entering heaven is on the basis of what I "do", my works. If I do enough good works, then God will accept me and allow me to enter heaven.
Jesus gives two responses to this question. First, he returns the young man's question with a question of his own: "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." Jesus assumes the position of the young man. It's a rhetorical question. No one is perfectly good except God himself. By calling Jesus "good," Jesus is asking the young man if he thinks Jesus is God! Acknowledging the deity of Jesus is essential for salvation. If we can "do" enough good works to enter heaven, Jesus coming to earth, God in human flesh, and dying for our sins is completely unnecessary. If Jesus is just another "good man," then all the world's religions that teach all we have to do is do good works for eternal life, be good people, to enter heaven, are correct. Jesus is unnecessary.
Jesus' second response to this young man is to take him to the Ten Commandments. "You know the commandments," Jesus said. Why did Jesus do this? Because when we look at the Ten Commandments, God's perfect moral law, and especially the requirement that we perfectly obey them all, all the time, every day, we see how woefully short we fall from God's "goodness." We see God's requirement for eternal life and we know we have failed. We know we'll never be good enough. All of us have committed adultery (in our hearts; see Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:27,28). All of us have murdered people (with our thoughts and words; see Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:21ff). All of us have lied, stolen and coveted. We are all terribly guilty of not coming close to being "good" before a holy God.
If we are honest with ourselves, when we place ourselves in the mirror of the Ten Commandments, God's holy requirement for salvation, we are guilty, guilty, guilty! We are doomed to separation from God forever unless he intervenes with his grace.
Which, again, is why Jesus came. He came to save us by grace, through faith, God in Christ taking the penalty for our sins upon himself on the Cross.
How good is good enough? How many good works are sufficient for us to have eternal life? And who gets to draw the line? You? Me? Someone else? Why should anyone on earth have that privilege. In my experience with people through the years, most people draw the line right below their own determined self-righteousness! They're in. Everyone else is not.
The truth is no one is good enough. No one can ever be good enough. We all have sinned terribly and fallen short of God's glory. Our only hope is a Savior, someone to take this terrible sin problem away. We need someone to justify us before God's holy wrath against our sin.
In case you don't know, this person's name is Jesus.
That's why he came.