GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
By Keith L. Estes
Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? This question is asked of Jesus by a wealthy young man who knelt at His feet. Before Jesus answers his question He asks the young man a question; a question that many completely misunderstand. He asks, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God:"
Jesus asked this question, not to deny His own deity, but to impress upon this young man the seriousness of the implication. "Are you sure you really mean that?" would be a modern paraphrase.
If we use logic in this case we would say, that since "only" God is good then, all others are not good, therefore Jesus is not good.
Norman Geisler reminds us that Jesus did not deny He was God to the young ruler. He simply asked him to examine the implications of what he was saying. In effect, Jesus was saying to Him, "Do you realize what you are saying when you call Me Good? Are you saying I am God?"
"The young man did not realize the implications of what he was saying. Thus Jesus was forcing him to a very uncomfortable dilemma. Either Jesus was good and God, or else He was bad and man. A good God, or a bad man, but not merely a good man. Those are the real alternatives with regard to Christ. For no good man would claim to be God when he was not. The liberal Christ, who was only a good moral teacher but not God, is a figment of human imagination."
Jesus knew that the man addressed Him as only a religious teacher. He reminds him that no mere man merits the title "good", for that term applies only to God. As the Son of God, Jesus does of course merit highest praise.
If Jesus is not God, then we need to throw out some other scriptures that show that He is.
For example when He was in a house in Capernaum there was such a crowd that four men ripped open the thatched roof and lowered a man sick of the palsy. Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick man, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." Certain men reasoned in their hearts, "Why does this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?" Jesus reply was, "Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."
Or in another scripture Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." He claimed to exist before Abraham and for this reason they took up stones to kill him.
On another occasion Jesus made the bold statement, "I and my Father are one." Speech cannot be any plainer. Again they sought to stone him, and He asked them, "For which of these works do you stone me? They answered, "For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man makest thyself God."
No, we shall not throw out these scriptures. We will just keep in mind that isolated scriptures such as, "Why do you call me good" are not to be interpreted that Jesus was not God. There is too much evidence to the contrary.
Ref. Matt. 19:16-30, Mk. 10:17:31, Lk. 18:18-30, Mk. 2:8-10, Jn. 8:58, 10:30.