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How do you explain Luke 18:18-20?

How do you explain Luke 18:18-20?

By Ron Bedell


Luke 18:18-20 


18 And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.


Luke 18:19, this Ruler (possibly from the Sanhedrin) was asking Jesus how to get to Heaven. The Pharsees were teaching that good works get you to Heaven. Jesus is telling this ruler that he must be just as “good” (or righteous - sinless) as God is to get to Heaven. Wow. No one is as righteous as God is.  The point of this passage is to tell people that they must be just as righteous as God Himself is (Philippians 3:9) to get to Heaven and that no one is going to enter Heaven based on their good works.


Here is how Dr John Martin explains this passage:


“The man had called Jesus “Good Teacher.” Jesus responded that God alone is “good,” that is, only God is truly righteous. Apparently the man thought Jesus had gained a measure of status with God by His good works. Jesus was implying that if He (Jesus) were truly “Good” then it would be because He is God. This, then, is another of Jesus’ claims of deity.”


Also let’s look at Dr Alberto Valdes explanation of this passage:


“Jesus first challenges the ruler’s perception of Him (Jesus) and then deals with his understanding of eternal life. At first, it may seem that Jesus distances Himself from the designation God. However, He clarifies the rulers conception of what “Good” means—only God “is Good;” and, He arouses curiosity in the ruler regarding His (Jesus’) own identity. If only God qualifies as good, Jesus’ question all but confirms His own identity as God. Jesus here not only uses the Law lawfully to lead people to Himself, But He also functions in much the same way as God the Holy Spirit would once He, Himself had returned to Heaven. When Jesus promised that He would send the Comforter (God the Holy Spirit), He affirms that He had—during His earthly ministry—already carried out similar functions to the Holy Spirit’s future work.”


What is the purpose of the Law of Moses? The purpose of the Law is to point people to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who can save them (Galatians 3:24). The Law commends, but Jesus saves. The Law tells people that they cannot save themselves and that they must trust Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation.