When a rich young man approaches Jesus Christ to inquire about salvation, he begins by addressing Christ as “Good Master.” (Mt 19:16) Christ replies, as He often does, by questioning the young man: “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” (17a)
Christ systematically uses questions to help us think through what we’re doing so we can find the truth. This case appears to be no different. What is Christ leading the young man to discover?
Some might claim from Christ’s response that He’s rebuking the young man, admitting that He Himself isn’t good because He isn’t God. If this were true, then a rebuke would certainly be appropriate, but it presupposes that Christ is merely human. So, treating this as evidence of Christ’s mere humanity is classic circular reasoning, a logical fallacy.
If we observe carefully, Christ doesn’t actually assert that He isn’t good, or that the young man’s address is inappropriate; the mere question isn’t a condemnation. Christ simply affirms that no one is truly good except God; everyone else is sinful and depraved by nature. So, is the young man acknowledging the divinity and perfection of Christ, or is he flattering a sinful creature like himself? Christ’s challenge is to awaken: either Christ is God, or He isn’t good.
This question challenges us all, does it not? Many are tempted to describe Jesus Christ as merely a good man, a great teacher of morality, perhaps the greatest ever, and nothing more. Yet Christ Himself doesn’t leave us this option: He spoke in ways that were totally inappropriate for a mere man. (Jn 8:12, 19, 23, 29, 58)
So, we’re left to choose: either Christ is God, or He wasn’t good; there is no in-between. This is the most profound choice one will ever make, so choose wisely and fully, and then live accordingly.
Unless we find some clear fault in Jesus Christ, some obvious flaw in His character, it’s exceedingly unwise to presume He isn’t Who He claims to be. (Jn_14:6) A Man who foretells His own innocent suffering and death (Mt 16:21), and claims He will raise Himself from the dead (Jn 10:17-18), and then pulls this off — and actually does it — has given us more proof than we could ever need.