ESV - 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.
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I think Jesus was just trying to get the man to think of what he was really saying. In effect, Jesus was saying to him, “Do you realize what you are saying when you call Me Good? Are you saying I am God?” I.e. it was a question of Jesus’ true identity, in my opinion. It is like Josh McDowell’s quote of the famous theologian C.S. Lewis. Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord of all. And we must respond accordingly.
I believe Jesus is re-interpreting the meaning of "good" from human striving for "good works" to God's demand of "perfection". The rich young man was seeking to be justified by his good works, but the law of God requires keeping all the commandments perfectly. Only God is perfect [good] and he demands perfection if we are going to try and justify ourselves. Jesus knows that this rich young man was striving very hard to keep the commandments, but his great wealth was keeping him from faith and trust in God. That is why Jesus goes on to tell this young man to give away all his wealth and then follow Jesus. But he can't do this, he can't truly be good.
Jesus is the Word of God made flesh as correctly identified in John 1:14. Further, He is correctly identified by Paul as “being in the form of God,” who “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). The question Jesus posed and His response to the rich young ruler served to direct proper attention, not to Himself, but to His Father concerning the origin of that which is good. This encounter reveals two significant concepts – one, there is a divine order in creation that Jesus followed, and two, by His clarifying that only the Father is good communicates to the receiver that the Father remains the original and continuous focal point, He being the One who gave Jesus His mission (John 17:4). This allows the receiver to correctly direct their attention on things above or to become acquainted with the unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Since He was made in the likeness of man as a function of His earthly ministry, it makes Him directly relatable to the receiver, and at times it might appear by things He says that He could be someone other than God; but the two witnesses, John and Paul, have written otherwise to us. Therefore, in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established (2 Corinthians 13:1).
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