MARK 10:17



The Bible says in Mark 10:17, “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” This man did a couple of things right, things that everyone should do. First he came to Jesus. He certainly came to the right place. Too bad that more people do not come to Jesus for the things that really bother them. Of course, if you come to Jesus for an answer, you had better be ready to receive the answer that He gives to you.


This man certainly asked a very important question to Jesus, perhaps the most important question of all. He asked the question, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” It is interesting to note that Jesus did not answer the question directly. Before answering the question, Jesus wanted to make clear to the man that the man had a real problem in the way that he viewed life and the way that he viewed human beings. The problem was that he did not understand the depravity of human nature.


In Mark 10:18 the Bible says, “And Jesus said unto him, Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” There are some important things to say on the subject of good people compared to bad people. Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with saying that someone is a good person when you are comparing them to other people or to some basic standard of human conduct. But when you are talking on the subject of how one gets to heaven, then you are on the subject of the holiness of God and the holiness required to get to heaven. And no human being can ever be good enough based upon their own actions to get to heaven. That’s why Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God


Of course, Jesus is good because He is the Son of God. But evidently when this man addressed Jesus as “Good Master,” Jesus knew that the man was thinking of Jesus only as another man. If Jesus was only another man, then Jesus was not “good” compared to a holy God. In regards to getting to heaven, the problem with the human race is the sin problem. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Once you have sinned in any point, you will never be good enough to get to heaven. Getting to heaven is a free gift given to those who have trusted in Jesus in the conversion experience of the new birth.


In a sense there are two ways to get to heaven. One way is to be perfect. Since no one is perfect, it turns out that there is really only one way to get to heaven: through grace by faith in Jesus Christ. If you always have done the right thing, and have never sinned, and have obeyed the law in every point without fail; then you will be “good” based upon your own deeds and actions and you will earn heaven. The problem for human beings in getting to heaven this way is the sin problem. But the commandments of the law are certainly the means by which any human could have attained righteousness because the law is perfect and good. Galatians 3:21 says, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the lawThe problem is the weakness and the sin nature of man. Once you have offended in any one point in the law, then the law becomes that which condemns you. That’s where the Lord Jesus Christ comes in. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree


Of course, once you realize the tremendous requirements of the law, and your own weakness and failure at fulfilling the law, you will be brought to see your need of the Savior. You cannot see the need of a Savior until you see the greatness of your own sins. That becomes the second purpose to the law and how it functions in the age of grace: a schoolmaster to teach us of our need of a Savior. Once I have sinned, the law can no longer give me righteousness; but the law can teach me and remind me of my need of Jesus, and then Jesus can give me righteousness freely based upon what He did for me. Galatians 3:24 says, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith 


The man asked Jesus a question, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Of course, the answer that Jesus gave was correct. What the man needed to do was obey the commandments. If the man had not obeyed all the commandments all the time, then he needed a Savior. Of course, everyone has sinned, and so everyone needs a savior. Jesus said to the man in Mark 10:19, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother Jesus listed just five of the Ten Commandments. There are many other commandments in the Old Testament, but Jesus started with these five. These five commandments emphasize the responsibility of man to his fellowman. If you had the proper respect for your neighbor, you would not break any of these five commandments.


“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Those who do commit adultery do so for purely selfish reasons. They are not thinking about their spouse, or their children, or the future of the other person. They are motivated simply by selfish gratification. That is sin.


“Thou shalt not kill.” This refers to murder. The right to life is a basic life of all creatures. God gives life, and therefore He is the only one who has the right to take it; and those to whom He delegates such authority. Governmental authorities sometimes take life in the fulfillment of their responsibilities to keep the peace and to fight evil empires in war. Such situations are not a violation of this commandment. But there are many violations of this commandment in personal relationships. Jesus said that having anger in one’s heart against one’s neighbor can even be a violation of this commandment.


“Thou shalt not steal.” This commandment has a direct bearing on your attitude to the property of someone else. The only property that should come into your possession is that which has come to you honestly and legally, and most of that will be a result of your own efforts and work. If you steal someone else’s property, it came from the fact that you coveted what they had. Think how wonderful life would be if only there were no thieves and no stealing. If all the other problems of the world remained and this one problem disappeared because people obeyed this commandment, the quality of life on earth would improve dramatically for everyone.


“Thou shalt not lie.” No person is any better than their word. If you tell someone that you are going to do something, then you should do it. If you tell someone that something is so, then it should be so. “Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay.” God is called the Word, and His Word is true. Your word should be true also if you are a follower of God. Lies can do so much damage because human beings are so very good at lying. When people start lying, then no one knows who to believe, and people stop trusting each other. To lie is to commit a great sin.


“Honor thy father and thy mother.” The only one of the Ten Commandments that touches the parent-child relationship, and it puts the responsibility for the correct behavior on the child. Sometimes in our society we put too much responsibility and too much pressure on the parents. A parent can do only so much and there are no guarantees. Adam and Eve had two sons. Both sons were raised the same way evidently, and one of the sons became a murderer. That was not the fault of the parents. That was the fault of the son who chose not to follow the example and the teachings of the parents. For most children, no one will love them as much as their parents, or have their well-being in mind as much as the parents. The child who honors the parents will gain a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that will help them when they have to face the responsibilities of life. God gave you parents to protect you, to provide for you, and to prepare you for the future. Make sure that you honor them.


Jesus named just a few of the commandments, and in regards to just these few most of us are great sinners because of our failures to have kept theses commandments perfectly. The answer that this man gave to Jesus here in Mark chapter 10 is recorded in Mark 10:20, “And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.” This man was a remarkable individual. Not many human beings would be able to honestly say what he said concerning these few commandments. But one of the problems with the law is that there are many commandments. You may have obeyed some of the commandments, but the question is: have you obeyed all of the commandments?


There are other commandments. Jesus referred somewhat to these other commandments when in the next verse we see that Mark 10:21 says, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” One of the commandments is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Another way of saying this same thing is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and all thy mind, and all thy soul, and all thy strength


There is a lot to learn about the human sin problem from this individual. This man was moral and ethical and maybe even religious. He kept the commandments that had to do with one’s relationship to one’s fellowman better than most people; but he had one great barrier between himself and God. He was a person of wealth. He was a person of much material possession, and he could not let go of his material possessions, not even for the sake of knowing God. Remember the original question that this man asked Jesus, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” What a sad thing that a person would let earthly possessions keep them from eternal life and keep them from following Jesus. The selfish nature of man can take on just about any form. Sin is human selfishness whatever form it takes. A person might be very moral and ethical in many ways, and yet be very sinful and selfish in regards to their attitude towards God and what God may want them to do in this life. If you are not going to go with God in this life, what makes you think that He will let you go with Him in the next?


It is important to note that Jesus is talking about the way of salvation in this passage. Salvation is not just fire insurance. Salvation is a change in life. If a person believes in the Lord and is saved, then that person starts following the Lord. If you have never started following the Lord, then you have never been saved. There is no such thing as believing and then never following. If someone says that they believed in Jesus, but never started following Him, then they did not have saving faith. Maybe they believed only with their intellect but not with their heart. The call to believe in Christ is a call to follow Him also. If you have never made a commitment that you are going to follow the Lord no matter what and go where He wants you to go and give up what He wants you to give up, then according to this passage in Mark chapter 10 and others like it, you have never been saved, and you are not going to inherit eternal life unless you make such a decision.    


I do not know what God wants you to give up, but I do know that He says the same thing to you that He said to this man, “Take up the cross, and follow me.” The cross symbolizes the price to pay in this world if you are going to be a follower of Jesus. The cross was a place of execution for the outcasts of the Roman Empire. If you follow Jesus, to some people you will be considered an outcast. That’s because the spirit of the world is the spirit of antichrist. The more selfish that you are, the less that you will be willing to take on the sufferings of the cross that Christ would call you to bear for His glory.


Someone who has a true conversion experience is so happy and thankful at the time of their conversion to be saved by the Lord, that they gladly accept whatever cross the Lord calls them to bear. If you have never had such a willingness, then you have never been saved. One of the problems in these last days is that there are too many people who are members of churches, but who have never been converted by giving their whole heart and life to Christ. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”               



Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved