“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matt 19:16)Notice first that Jesus has no problem with being called “teacher” - translated from the Greek word διδάσκαλος (didaskalos).
“Why do you ask me about what is good?"Yet Jesus does have an issue with the young man's use of “good.” Why?
In reality, this is a slight mistranslation. The word "good" here is being taken from the Greek word ἀγαθός (agathos) - which can mean "good" but also "excellent, distinguished" and "upright, honourable" according to the lexicon.
This means that the man is thinking that he wants to do something special - something distinguished or excellent.
This is actually a self-centered aspiration. To do something distinguished is to do something that others will respect us for.
And this is one of the diseases we see amongst ecclesiastical sectarian institutions. Many members utilize the institution to impress others. They use it as a platform to gain the respect and appreciation of others.
Thus if we translate this correctly, Jesus would be saying:
"Why do you ask me about doing something distinguished (or excellent)?"
"There is only One who is good."If we translate this correctly, we yield the more understandable statement:
"There is only One who is excellent (or distinguished)"
The irony here is that the very reason this word has been mistranslated in English Biblical translations is because those ecclesiastical translators themselves were focused upon being excellent or distinguished in the eyes of others - impressing others with their scholarship. And because they were blinded by their seeking to be distinguished or excellent in the eyes of others, they failed to understand the meaning of Jesus' statement, and thus mistranslated it.
This is an example of how one can be shielded from hearing the Truth or understanding the Supreme Being despite the fact that the Supreme Being is present right next to each of us.
We like to think of the Supreme Being being so far away - and many think of God as a vague force or impersonal power. Others deny the existence of the Supreme Being.
Why do some deny the existence of the Supreme Being - or otherwise see Him as impersonal or far away in some other world? Because we want to be supreme. We want to be the center of the universe.
We simply have a hard time accepting that someone other than ourself can be the center of the universe.
Even though it is clear we are not the center of the universe. We can simply look around us - at the more than seven billion other humans on this planet - and figure this out. We can simply consider the weather - which we cannot control. And we can look at our own lives - full of pain, disease and eventually death - to understand that we have no control over things.
We aren't, in other words, the center of the universe, nor are we the controller of the universe.
But most of us refuse to accept this. This is why so many of us fight with each other over the control of property. This is why government leaders and their armies are fighting others for control over certain lands and populations. This is why there is crime. This is why there is no peace.
Because we are trying to gain control over things we do not own.
Only the Supreme Being owns this world and the things in it. Only the person who is in control over something can own that something. The Supreme Being controls everything, and thus owns everything.
Thus only the Supreme Being is distinguished. He maintains every distinguishing quality that exists. How could any quality exist unless it had an origin? The Supreme Being is the origin of excellence.
And God is the center of the universe.
"If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”The word "life" is being translated from ζωή (zōē) - which means "the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate;" or "every living soul."
In other words, Jesus is speaking of spiritual life. The soul is our spiritual self. It lies on another dimension - the spiritual dimension. The soul is not simply a part of us - we are the soul. This is why Jesus also said:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)Jesus was teaching his students that we are not these physical bodies. We are the living spirit - the soul - who is temporarily operating this physical body.
So instead of the man becoming great in the eyes of others - becoming distinguished or excellent - Jesus is stating that he needs to become a follower. Someone who is devoted to following the instructions of the Supreme Being.
This is the opposite of the desire to be excellent or distinguished in the eyes of others. Following the instructions of the Supreme Being means becoming God's servant.
This is our natural position. The Supreme Being created each of us to be His loving servant and playmate. But because He wanted us to truly love Him, He also gave each of us the freedom to love Him or not.
Those who are residing in the physical world searching for self-centered happiness are here because we decided we didn't want to love God. We wanted to love ourselves.
Accommodating our desire, the Supreme Being gave us these temporary physical bodies in which to play out our self-centered desires.
Unless of course we decide we want to return home to our innate loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
In that case we must take shelter in the Supreme Being. This is what following His instructions are: Taking shelter.
In other words, one can either take shelter in their own mental concoctions of what we think will make us happy: Or we can take shelter in the Supreme Being in the form of following those instructions.
And what was the most important instruction or commandment according to Jesus?
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)