By the time we get to verse 17, it looks like Jesus is back outside and headed somewhere when the rich young ruler chases him down and kneels at his feet. He says, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus says that only God is good so why does he call him, Jesus, good? It’s puzzling. We, on this side of the cross, know that God is good, and that Jesus is God. Obviously, the young ruler thought highly of Jesus because he called him Good Master. But that’s as far as it went.
Like Pastor Josh said, “This is the line in the sand. God is the only one who is good all the time, God is the only one to worship, and the only one to serve. It’s not about all the things the ruler has done—it’s about the one good God.” After all, the first three commandments deal with how God is to be treated.
The next part that Jesus addresses is the commandments. Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother. Of these, the young ruler states unequivocally, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth.” Then Jesus was moved by him. Could it be that he suddenly saw that the young man was in earnest? Or, was he moved with love for the young man?
“One thing you lack…” Jesus said. It was more than the young man could bear. Jesus told him to sell what he has, give it to the poor and follow me (Jesus). His ticket to eternity was not gained by adhering to the commandments. It was gained by following Jesus. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believed on him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
God is eternal life. He manifested it in Jesus (I John 1:2) Once a person believes in eternal life through Jesus, he/she is a member of God’s family (Romans 8:17). The Holy Spirit is the down payment on eternal life (Ephesians 1:13,14). God will not walk away from believers. But believers can. They did in the wilderness and did not reach the promised land. God has demonstrated in the Bible stories that continuously ignoring God or refusing to obey him will cause one to disqualify himself for eternal life. It’s called free will. Use it wisely.