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Mark 152 - Good

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

Mark 10:17,18

Jesus was not a homebody. He didn’t live at home, playing video games, he was out and about. In the words of Willie Nelson[1], he was “on the road again.” And that where we find Jesus, on the road again. And just as he’s getting on his way, he gets interrupted.

We all know what that’s like, don’t we? We walk out the front door only to remember something back in the house. We get into the car only to remember the grocery list back in the kitchen. We pull out onto the road only to remember our cell phone back on the desk.

Just as Jesus was starting on his way, on the road, a complete stranger approaches. But he doesn’t just approach Jesus, this guy runs up and falls on his knees in front of him, and in front of everyone else following Jesus.

Now this wasn’t an everyday event. Yes, people were following Jesus, people were listening to Jesus. And as people were being changed by Jesus, they responded with joy, adoration, thankfulness, praise.

But this guy was different. He wasn’t asking to be healed or to heal someone else, to drive out a demon, to raise the dead. He wasn’t even asking for some food or other physical need. No, this guy was looking for something else. He was looking for eternal life. And he thought that the road to eternal life was in what he did.

He wanted the checklist of things to do to get eternal life. He was looking for the order form of what needed to be accomplished to get the life without end. He wanted the hacks, the inside scoop on what he had to do in order to get to heaven. And since only people who are acceptable to God get to heaven, he was asking how to be acceptable to God. How to please God.

But Jesus doesn’t answer his question right away. Rather than quickly answering his question so he could get back on the road, Jesus goes back to how he was addressed.

Good teacher is not a job description. It’s not someone who teaches well. That’s not the question or statement he’s making. This guy was saying something altogether different.

He’s saying that Jesus was more than a good teacher, someone who had learned the skills of how to teach. How to communicate information so the people who heard got something out of it. Being a good teacher is not someone up front, talking in such a way that the people in the audience don’t fall asleep.

No, the kind of good teacher this guy is talking about is that Jesus is good in who he is. He’s saying that Jesus is good from within. That Jesus is different from everyone else because only God is good.

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him

Nahum 1:7

By calling Jesus “good,” he’s perhaps unintentionally saying that Jesus is “good” like God. And that’s an opening too good for Jesus to ignore. So Jesus’ response is not to accept the kind compliment, but to take the conversation in an entirely different direction.

The question God asks is also a question not just for this guy, but for you and me. Who else but God is good in who they are? And not good like “Good and Plenty” but good in all their thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes.

Who do you know that’s good like that? It’s a very short list, isn’t it?

Your mom might have been a good and kind woman. Your dad may have been a good provider. Your instructor might have been a good teacher. The person taking your order at the restaurant might have been a good waiter. But none of them were good in everything they did. Everything they said. Everything they thought.

God alone is good in who he is. Everything about him is good and perfect. He needs no booter shot to improve his goodness. He’s sort of like Maxwell House coffee – good to the last drop.

Is that how you see God? How you experience God?

God alone is good. And yet he asks us to come to him just as we are. Are you willing to take that step? Start that journey?



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