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Jesus was more than just a “good Teacher,” but what does “good” really mean?
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. (Luke 18:19)
Today’s big question: is Jesus good?
In today’s passage, a certain young man came running up to Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). We see from this man’s initial question that he did not really understand it means to be “good.” He wanted to know what he could do to gain eternal life. Unfortunately, this belief that we can “earn” eternal life by doing good works is still very common today.
As He often did, Jesus responded by asking a question in return, as well as making a statement of truth. He addressed this foundational concept of theology with a simple statement: no one is good except God alone. This truth that God is good is displayed throughout all of Scripture:
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9)
God’s goodness is so infinitely great that we cannot begin to compare; Romans 3:23 states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Even our best deeds cannot bring us salvation. Isaiah wrote, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), and Paul declared that all of his works and attempts at righteousness were rubbish (Philippians 3:4–8).
Scripture clearly teaches that we are not inherently good. Romans 5:12 states, “Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
When Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me good?” He did not deny being God. In fact, just the opposite is true. He encouraged this young man to consider who he was talking to. Jesus is the Son of God, the only man who can truly be called “good.” In fact, He is the standard by which goodness is measured—and none of us can measure up in our own strength.
We can inherit eternal life only through the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. He died in our place and took the punishment for our sin so that we can be righteous in God’s sight (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we believe, repent, and receive Him as our Savior, He has promised to give us eternal life (John 3:16). Now, that is good!
Today’s big idea: Jesus is the ultimate definition of good.
What to pray: praise the Lord for His infinite, incomparable goodness—revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.