No one is good but God. Jesus’ encounter with a rich man shows us that because of our sin, the things we do cannot earn us eternal life. The man approaches Jesus saying that he has been good, having followed the Commandments ever since he was a young boy. And perhaps, according to his actions, he had. But Jesus sees the man’s heart and knows what is keeping him from drawing near to God. And so Jesus exposes the man’s sin, telling him to sell everything that he has and follow Him, for then the man will inherit eternal life. Jesus shows the man that he is not perfect, that he is lacking in goodness because he cannot forsake his riches. While this is an opportunity for the man to confess his weakness and his sin of loving his wealth more than God, the man chooses to go away sad and keep his wealth.
“Why do you call me good?” says, Jesus, “No one is good – except God alone.” In other words, Jesus is asking the man to reflect on Jesus’ identity as both good and God. If only the man wasn’t too busy trying to assess his own goodness to realize Jesus’ goodness. Knowledge and acceptance of Jesus would have earned the man riches of heaven far greater than his earthly wealth. The man didn’t need to do more. Rather, he needed to believe in the One Who could do more than he could for himself. Instead of seeing his need for Jesus, the rich man ends up walking away from Him with his wealth in tow.
We need Jesus because only He is truly good. We cannot earn our way to heaven because our sin keeps us from being good enough. The man thought he was good, but didn’t realize that he upheld his wealth as his first priority. When he realized that he could not take his money with him to eternity, the man walked away from God in order to keep it. Even in our desire to be good, we need the help of Jesus Who is truly and fully good. We need Him to save us from our sin which makes us bad. While the man walks away from Jesus sad, we do not have to stay far away from Jesus. We can instead choose to draw near to Him. For the joy of our Savior’s Presence and the riches of His love are infinitely greater than anything that money can buy. What must you do to inherit eternal life? Confess your need for the Savior and trust and follow after His Goodness.