Questioning, of course, is central to learning and growing. And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good” (Matthew 19.16-17a).
Questions are very powerful tools for making decisions and solving problems, for inventing, changing and improving our lives as well as the lives of others. The question of eternal life is certainly a big question and it seems that most everybody is looking for an answer to it. Even the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were diligently studying the Scriptures in order to possess eternal life (John 5.39-40). What’s up with that?
Questions allow us to make sense of the world. Certainly the young man’s question to Jesus assumed that eternal life could be achieved by doing some good thing but it also assumed that eternal life was the paramount thing to get.
Yet Jesus’ reply did not expressly focus on salvation. Rather Jesus obliged the young man to think more seriously about the word good. Answering a question with a question can sometimes trigger something to get us moving in the right direction. “Only God is good,” Jesus said. By emphasizing the goodness of God Jesus questioned the man’s idea of goodness. You see, goodness is found in relation to God, not by ‘good deeds’ of our own devising. In other words, Jesus is asking, “Do you believe that I am good and therefore that I am God?”
Think about it! Surely salvation is good! But if Jesus is good, then He is God, and knowing Jesus (His Person & Work) is far better than salvation. No! Even more, knowing Jesus is salvation (John 17.3).