The Case for Jesus Course Introduction: Jesus and the Rich Young Man (Part 4 of 5)

by Brant Pitre May 10, 2016 0 Comments

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In this video excerpt (part 4 of 5), taken from The Case for Jesus: The Reliability of the Gospels and the Jewish Roots of Jesus' Divinity, Dr. Pitre looks at Jesus' encounter with the rich young man in Mark 10.more Many skeptical scholars use this story in the Gospel of Mark to say that Jesus taught that he was not God. They do this based on Jesus' response to the young man after the young man calls Jesus "good teacher." Jesus responds by asking the young many "why do you call me good?" and saying that "no one is good but God alone." Given Jesus' response, many scholars argue that Jesus clearly here is saying that he is not God. If the story stopped here this would be a very good interpretation, but unfortunately for the skeptics the story continues.

If Jesus was affirming that he was not God, he would also be affirming that he was not good given the context of the young man's question. Does this interpretation make sense given the rest of the story?

The problem with the interpretation of many skeptic scholars is that Jesus goes on to tell the young man that keeping the Ten Commandments is not good enough for this young man to inherit eternal life. This is a problem because it is God who gave the commandments. Who is Jesus, if not God and not good, that he can tell this young man that what God has given is not good enough? And if this wasn't enough of a problem for the interpretation of the skeptics, Jesus tells the man to sell all that he has and FOLLOW ME.

Those who want to interpret this passage to mean that Jesus is saying that he is not God need to answer the following question:

If Jesus is saying that he is not God and is not good, how can he add to the Ten Commandments and tell the young man to "follow me"?

In other words, it makes no sense for Jesus to tell the young man that he must follow him if we wants to inherit eternal life, if he just got finished saying that he is not God and is not good. A closer reading of Jesus' response to the young man shows that Jesus actually never says that he is not God or that he is not good. His response to the young man is a riddle to get the young man to come to the realization of Jesus' divinity. Jesus wants the young man to see that he is good, that he is God and that he therefore must be followed, and Jesus wants to accomplish this without forcing it upon the young man.

Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre