All of us like to receive compliments especially from those we respect, but Jesus rejected the endorsement of a very respectable leader. An endorsement rises above a compliment and gives a stamp of approval. It’s like a seal on a package that endorses the product inside. The endorsement authenticates the product and gives the guarantee of the endorser.
This makes the endorser greater than the one being endorsed. This is why Jesus rejected the endorsement of a respected leader, and based his own credibility on the endorsement of God. “Do not work for food that spoils,” said Jesus, “but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:27 NIV).
Whose endorsement you receive reflects who you think is greater than you. When a rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good–except God alone” (Luke 18:18-19).
On the surface, the response of Jesus is a bit confusing. Jesus was certainly good. So why did he challenge the young ruler about calling him good. If you take your focus off the word “good” and emphasize the word “you”, it makes sense. “Why do YOU call me good” is the question. Jesus is asking why the ruler thinks he’s qualified to endorse Him.
The rich young ruler thought of himself as being so good that he was qualified to endorse Jesus. The ruler has assessed Jesus as good and addressed him as such. To address Jesus as good, he had to consider himself qualified to make that assessment of Jesus. Had Jesus received that endorsement, he would have tacitly agreed that the rich young ruler was good enough to endorse him. Instead, Jesus rejected his endorsement and told him that only God is good.
Jesus didn’t deny that he was God’s Son, which meant he also was good. But by saying that only God is good, Jesus affirmed that only God was qualified to endorse him. This conversation was not for Jesus but for the ruler. The rich young ruler needed to know who he was, or more accurately, who he wasn’t. He needed to know that he wasn’t qualified to endorse Jesus. This is why Jesus told him to sell all that he had and come follow me. This put the rich young ruler in his place—following Christ, not endorsing him.
Instead of receiving the endorsement of someone admired by the world, Jesus tells him to give away what the world values and come follow him. It’s amazing how worldview affects whose endorsement you seek and receive. Jesus lived for God’s endorsement and rejected the world’s endorsement.
Sadly, we Christians don’t always see things as Christ saw them. Many Christians today seek the world’s endorsement. I hear them almost every week talk about the failings of the church and how if we just did such and such the world would respect the church and want to hear the gospel. This tacitly affirms the world in its delusion that it is qualified to judge the church, and it deceives Christians into thinking that their good works will earn them the right to share the gospel. The right to share the gospel has already been paid for by the One who died for the world’s sins. And the world is as unqualified to endorse the church as the rich young ruler was to endorse Christ.
If we see as Jesus saw, we’ll see the world for that it is and seek only God’s approval on our lives. Then we’ll do our good works to glorify God and not concern ourselves with the world’s endorsement.
Dr. Michael Peters is the lead pastor of Christ the King: TheCellChurch.com. He is married to Linda, and they have two children and seven grandchildren. Dr. Peters graduated from Covenant Seminary with an MA and obtained a PhD in historical theology from Saint Louis University. He has written several books. His most recent is titled Cell Vision. It’s about organic discipleship and how to develop supporters into disciple makers. He taught critical thinking and Biblical worldview at Missouri Baptist University. His favorite course textbook was Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. His favorite philosopher is Nietzsche because postmodern people are just catching up with premodern Nietzsche. And his favorite Christian writer is G.K. Chesterton because he understood the difference between a poet and theologian. “The poet,” he wrote, “only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the theologian who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”