The Rule-Keeper, and Why Jesus Challenged Him - 96five Family Radio

The Rule-Keeper, and Why Jesus Challenged Him

Jesus wanted to expose the rule-keepers false assumptions, to show him that commandment-keeping was not the way to inherit eternal life.

By Dr Eliezer GonzalezMonday 10 Jun 2024FaithReading Time: 2 minutes

This is the story about the Commandment-Keeper, Jesus and false assumptions.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.]”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy” (Mark10:18–20, NIV).]

A man ran up to Jesus, and he fell on his knees before him. And what he said to Jesus was revealing. He said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life.”

It’s a good question, but it’s wrongly phrased. It contains some false assumptions – assumptions that we often make too – and Jesus is about to unpack them for him.

Jesus Challenged the Commandment-Keeper

The first wrong assumption that this man made was that anyone could be good. Of course, Jesus wasn’t a mere man, but this young man didn’t know that. He considered himself good, so he thought that Jesus must be good as well. So, Jesus quoted Scripture to him to challenge him, reminding him that no one is good except God alone. There’s a double whammy in that, because he was in fact God himself.

The second false assumption that this man-made was that he could be a commandment-keeper – perfectly, and it’s very clear that they are talking about the Ten Commandments because Jesus quotes them. In fact, the man thought that you could be good by keeping the commandments.

The third false assumption that this man-made is that the commandments are kept by their external fulfilment. He had never murdered anyone literally, or committed adultery in the flesh, and so on, so he thought that he had done all that the law required. Of course, Jesus taught that the commandments are spiritual, and their fulfilment or otherwise comes from deep within our very hearts.

I wonder why this man came to Jesus? Perhaps he expected Jesus to congratulate him. Or perhaps he still felt unfulfilled in his legalistic religion.

Whatever it was, Jesus went along with the man’s assumptions in his answer.  Jesus wanted to expose the man’s false assumptions, to show him that commandment-keeping was not the way to inherit eternal life, because what God required went far beyond external legalistic understandings. Salvation was through trusting, not doing; through faith, and not through works.

One thing Jesus is very good at is challenging false assumptions about God, ourselves, and salvation.


Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.

About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.

Feature image: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash