Next in this chapter, we see a man usually identified as “the rich young ruler” coming to the Lord and eagerly inquiring what good thing he ought to do to inherit eternal life.  The enemies of Christ’s deity have often seized upon His answer, “Why callest thou Me good?  There is none good but one, that is God.”  But it is apparent that our Lord is not denying His own innate goodness, nor His proper deity.  He is challenging the young man to recognize Him for who He is.  This young man is very likely one such as Nicodemus in John 3, who had formed a high opinion of Christ, but was not yet fully enlightened to the truth of His divine/human nature.  We should acknowledge Christ as a prophet and as a “good Master,” but we must also acknowledge Him as the Son of God, one with the Father, the possessor of all power in heaven and in earth.

Jesus tells the young man, if he would enter into life, he must keep the commandments.  Does our Lord, then, teach something different from His apostles, who taught that “by the works of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight”?  Not at all, for the passage plainly demonstrates that what Christ is about is exposing the futility of the young man’s religion.  After Christ enunciated the commandments, the young man proudly proclaims, “All these things have I kept from my youth up.”  Surely He did not recognize the full spiritual intent of the law, or he would never have made such a boastful claim.  But, instead of challenging Him on his foolish assertion, Christ instead shows him that he is not willing to enter the kingdom on God’s terms.  No doubt this man was a very moral person as far as men go, though surely not so perfect as he fancied himself to be.  But what Jesus shows to him is that he is still, at heart, an idolater.  His heart’s devotion, ultimately, was not towards God, but towards His money.  He could not rightly serve Christ because his money would interfere.  Thus, the cross that Jesus would require him to carry was to sell all that he had, give to the poor, and come follow Him.  This the young man could not do.  He anxiously desired to be in the kingdom and to inherit eternal life, but not at the expense of his possessions.  So to this very day we all have lusts and temptations which we must mortify, if we would be the true servants of Christ.  Those who refuse to forsake the idol that keeps them from Christ will fall short of the kingdom, just as this young man did.

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