Matthew 19:17. “And He saith unto him, Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but One, that is, God: bit if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
As He often did, Jesus first answered a question with a question. “Why are you calling Me good? Don’t you know there is only One Who is good, and that is God?”
The first thing Jesus did was to establish His identity for the young man. It would seem that the young man thought of Jesus as just another teacher, another rabbi. Good master was a typical way of addressing a teacher, one held in respect. Jesus wanted to make it clear to the young man exactly Who He was. Notice that Jesus did not deny that He was, indeed, good. He simply pointed out that only God is good. That simple statement is one of our biggest clues to the fact that no man, no mortal being, is capable of enough goodness to achieve heaven.
Jesus knew, however, that the young man needed more, so He followed up with something the man would understand: A reference to the Law. “If you would enter into life, then you must keep (all) the commandments.”
But wait a minute! Isn’t that a contradiction to what we’ve already said? That no one is capable of enough goodness to enter heaven? That only Jesus is good? Is Jesus trying to trap the poor guy?
Of course not. Jesus was simply aiming the conversation in a direction the young man would understand, because he had been learning all the law and the prophets since early childhood. He understood all the “Thou shalts” and Thou shalt nots.” What Jesus did was to use the tool of the Law to reveal the true nature of the young man’s heart to himself. And what the young man did NOT understand was the depth of his own sinful nature, as we’ll see next time. .