“Why do you call me good?”

Mark 10:18 (ESV)
"And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."

Ask most Muslims, and they will point to this verse as “proof” Jesus was not God. Once again, we have to understand the context surrounding the verse as well as other similar examples in Scripture to understand its meaning. So to my Muslim friends, sorry, Jesus IS God. Read on.

Consider the example in Luke 9:20 and Mark 8:29. Here, Jesus is asking His disciples “Who do you say I am?” Similarly, look at Luke 8:45 when He asked “Who touched me?” Jesus uses moments like this to draw out public statements of faith from those around him, something He elsewhere commanded as an essential component of every believer (see Matthew 10:32).

In our study verse above, Jesus is using the question as a reply to ascertain the level of faith in the man. Jesus did not want the rich young man to call Him good without recognizing who He truly was. For those who try to declare that Jesus never said He was God, I refer you to the following: John 5:21; 5:22; 5:23; 8:58; 10:30; 11;4; 20:28, as well as many other verses where Jesus receives worship, something clearly commanded not to do except for God alone (Matthew 4:9-10; Romans 1:25; Revelation 22:8-9).

Further, if you look ahead to verse 21 when Jesus admonishes the rich man, He clearly states that eternal life (the rich young ruler’s original question) can only be found by following Him.

We know the rest of the story—the man turned away sad because he had too many possessions that he was not willing to part with. The man was full of covetousness, and it was barring His relationship with God.

The takeaway from this post is hopefully some insight into a verse that you as a believer may be confronted with from a non-believer. We must always be prepared to defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15), and understanding “key” verses non-believers will routinely bring up will help you contend for the faith and hopefully, put a pebble in the shoe of someone who needs to hear the Truth.

Jesus places the attribute of “good” at a premium. It reminds me of some of my graduation speeches I used to give. There is a vast difference between doing good and doing well, and if we only strive to become well off without doing good, our lives are but empty.

Strive to be good. For in doing so, you will be closer to being like Christ.