And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.”When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:18-25, ESV).
After looking at the above verse one might think not. Many people claim that because of Jesus’ answer to the rich young ruler that Jesus didn’t believe he was a good person. They even claim that Jesus would have smoked pot and slept around just like everybody else. People who claim this really haven’t studied the passage or applied basic rules of interpretation to this passage. They are intentionally misreading the passage.
Jesus did not say “Whoa man, I’m not perfect, only God is.” He asked, ‘Why do you call me good?'” This is a question that is demanding the intentions of the questioner. Then he says “No one is good except God alone.” He is giving the moral standard of goodness one must achieve to enter heaven. Actually one might say he is saying, “I’m God. You are not good. You can’t earn heaven.” Jesus was actually declaring sinless perfection and claims of deity.
The first step to entering heaven is believing that you are morally bankrupt (Matthew 5). Jesus even gives him five commandments to hold to the rich young ruler to see if he is good enough to receive eternal life. The ruler is totally oblivious to his sinfulness. So Jesus exposes the rich young ruler’s greed in verse 22 by telling him to give everything he has to the poor to have riches in heaven and follow Jesus. The rich young ruler went away sad because his sin was exposed and Jesus was shown to be morally superior.
Those who trust in earthly riches and their own righteousness cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It is just as impossible for the largest animal in our world to go through the smallest hole. In the end, it is only God that can save the sinner. That is what Jesus did by being fully God and man, living a perfect sinless life, dying a perfect sinless sacrificial death, and rising from the dead. Anyone who turns from their sin and trusts in Jesus will have their sin forgiven and enter into eternal life.
Other passages show Jesus’ sinlessness in the Bible. You can read about his sinless life in the gospels. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV). Jesus will come to judge the world in righteousness and establish the perfect, good, sinless eternal world at the end of time. Yes, Jesus believed He was a good person. You and I are not. We have to trust in the perfect sacrifice of our good savior to be saved. When we use simple context, passages like Luke 18:18 are clear.
Please share this with your friends that they may hear the gospel and be saved. Thank you for reading this I hope that this has blessed you. For additional resources you can go to Josiah’s sermons for examples of going verse by verse through the Bible and using context to explain it. You can also go to the Resources page to see the Using Hermeneutics Book Series. If you buy these books they will teach you how to study God’s Word and you will be helping this ministry greatly. Please consider buying my books to help support this blog, I can’t do this on a regular basis without you. They also make great gospel tracts. Not only do they find out how to study the Bible but they read the gospel over and over again. Lord bless you and study God’s Word.