Mark 10:18, Why do you call me good?
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
//Every now and then this verse comes up in a conversation. It’s from the gospel of Mark, a gospel that is often gritty, giving Jesus a more human face than the other three. In this verse, Jesus seems to be denying that he is good … and certainly denying that he is God.
Seldom will a conservative Christian read this verse straightforwardly. Instead, they see Jesus as presenting a sort of puzzle. “You say I’m good? Well, there’s only one who is good, and that’s God. So what does that make me?”
It’s interesting to me that Matthew, who wrote his gospel with Mark in hand, was equally disturbed by the ramifications of this saying. Matthew did not hold to a high Christology; he never imagined that Jesus was God in the flesh. Yet Mark’s story nevertheless disturbed him. He couldn’t accept Mark’s wording, in which Jesus claimed not to be good, but he also couldn’t think of Jesus as God. So what did he do?
He changed the wording just slightly, toning down the message. Be sure to read this verse in a more accurate translation than the King James, and you’ll see the difference:
And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”