Only God is good – so how can we be?

In Matthew 19:16, Jesus was asked: “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” And Jesus replied in verse 17, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.” 

Well, if only God is good, how can we be good then? Jesus’ disciples wondered the same thing, because if no one is truly classed as “good” in God’s sight, “Who then can be saved?” they asked in verse 25

Jesus “looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible,’” verse 26. No way can anyone be classed as good enough to be saved. To which Peter replies: “But we’ve left everything to follow you, so what’s in it for us?” There should be some sort of reward for all our sacrifice, right?

Absolutely, Jesus replies in verse 29: “Everyone who has left home, family and livelihood for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Ah, so that’s what classes us as “good” enough to receive eternal life, is it? It’s leaving all those things we hold dear to follow Jesus. 

Well that solves that then. Or does it? Because according to Jesus in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even hate his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” What? I’ve got to hate my family to be classed as “good” too? 

Fortunately, Jesus explains what he meant by that in verses 28-33 – that there’s a serious cost to following him; it’s like carrying a cross (verse 27). And they knew what that meant all right, because carrying a literal cross back then meant the loss of everything. So, “Are you up for that?” Jesus is asking them, because nothing less than that was good enough for being a disciple of his. 

But imagine what that must be like for a university student, under enormous pressure from professors and students alike to conform to the prevailing unscriptural fads, and under pressure to get good grades for his own future, leaving little time for studying Scripture. Being a disciple of Jesus can seem impossible in such circumstances.

And Jesus said it would be, too. But he also said, finishing off Matthew 19:26, that “with God all things are possible.” So trust him in all our impossible circumstances and see what happens, because in Jesus’ eyes that’s what makes us good. 

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