What Does Mark 10:17 Mean?

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Mark 10:17(NASB)

Verse of the Day

There were many in Israel that did everything in their power to discredit the Lord Jesus and trap Him by asking leading questions so that they could accuse Him of blasphemy against God or insurrection against Rome. 

Jesus had encountered the condemnatory accusations of pious people who were quick to accuse an adulteress of her sin while wallowing comfortably in their own sinfulness. He had also been caused to rebuke His careless disciples who, when little children came to see Jesus and learn of Him, would have preferred to send them away. Indeed, they were issued with a rebuke and strong warning that "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."

And then, as Jesus was just preparing to journey to Jerusalem, He was intercepted by a man who ran to Him to seek an answer to a question that lay heavy on his heart. Other Gospels identify him as a rich, young ruler, but the focus in Mark's Gospel was his eagerness to reach Jesus, for he came running to see the Lord before He set out on His journey. The man knelt respectfully before Him with a question that was obviously burning in his heart: "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Unlike those who wanted to trap and discredit Jesus, the nature of this question and the earnest enquiry on how to live by God's standard, seemed to be the motivating factor in this man's question to Jesus: "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

In His pre-Cross ministry, Jesus was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Following in the footsteps of John the Baptist and all Old Testament prophets, Christ's message to Israel was to repent and turn back to God - for Israel's promised kingdom was close at hand and Jesus was claiming to be their King.

This man did not ask what must I do to be saved... but what must I do to inherit eternal life. Justification for Jew and Gentile alike is by faith. One must believe on God and the Lord Jesus Christ Whom He has sent, in order to be saved. Eternal life is not gained by doing something: "What must I DO to be saved?" Eternal life is gained by believing on someone: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved."

And so it was not his question on inheritance that immediately grabbed Christ's attention... for forgiveness of sins, eternal life and a heavenly inheritance is God's free gift to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their perfect Kinsman-Redeemer and substitute for sin.

Instead, Jesus questioned this young man's motive in referring to Him as GOOD, pointing out that God ALONE is good. Only God should have the label 'good' attached to His character - for this earnest, young Jewish man was schooled in Scriptures and would have known "there are none that are good - not even one."

Jesus was indeed GOOD. He is the only Man Who can legitimately be labelled as 'good' for He is the holy Word of God, made flesh. He is the eternal Son of God, born into the human race as the perfect, sinless Son of Man. Jesus is the Good Master. He is the Good Teacher, for Jesus is the incarnate God, made in the likeness of sinful flesh - yet without sin.

In questioning the rich young ruler, Jesus was not contradicting this man's comment, but seeking to identify his motive for correctly referring to Him as "GOOD Master."

Eternal life is not gained by what we do, but by what Christ did. Eternal life and entrance into the kingdom of God is gained... not by what we do but by what we believe. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." The Lord Jesus was testing this man who seemed to be so earnestly seeking the truth. Jesus wanted to discover if the man was willing to confess Christ as the incarnate God, and be saved. Would he confess, "You are the Christ the Son of the living God?" Did he call Jesus 'Good Teacher' for the correct reason?

The encounter with the Lord Jesus, when this young man ran to ask Him the momentous question which lay so heavily on his heart, did not immediately cause this earnest young man to confess this 'Good Teacher' as his Eternal God. 

We do not hear any more about this young man and whether he was one who came to understand that the way, the truth, and the words of eternal life are found in Christ alone. But may we turn our attention onto the One Who is truly GOOD. Our loving Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the message that should be increasingly on our lips; that whosoever believes on Him is not condemned, but whosoever does not believe is condemned already because they have not believed on the only begotten Son of God - the one and only Good Son of Man.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for this important understanding that there are none that are good, not even one, and that it is only through faith in Christ that we have been forgiven of our sins and have received our inheritance of eternal life as a gift of Your grace. I lift up those that are seeking to know You and pray that many hearts may be opened to the good news of Jesus Christ. Use me to be a conduit through whom the truth of the gospel of grace may flow to all with whom I come in contact today. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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