The person we’re looking at today is the rich young ruler who came face-to-face with Christ. This is a man who asked Jesus the single most important question that one could ever ask of Jesus. If you had the opportunity to meet Jesus face-to-face and ask Him one question, “What question would I ask?” The rich young ruler asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He's not asking Jesus, “Jesus, what do you have to do in order that I might get into the kingdom of God?” He doesn't ask, “What does God do to make it possible for me to get into the Kingdom of God”, but he wants to know what HE (the young ruler) has to do to get into the Kingdom of God.
We see that Jesus raises a question of His own to this young man when He says, “Why do you call me good? Don’t you know that there was only One who was good, namely God.” When we say that we are good, and we think we are good, what's the standard by which we are judging ourselves? The Scriptures indicate that our tendency is to judge ourselves by ourselves, and judge ourselves among ourselves, and then Jesus adds the exclamation point--that this is not wise because only God is good. It's so easy for us to stand back and be critical of the rich young ruler. We see in him all of the vices of the Pharisees and the hypocrites. In his self-righteousness, with his “holier than thou” attitude, he really believes that he has been righteous enough to satisfy the demands of God.
But this man is who we are. This man missed the Kingdom of God even after meeting Jesus Christ face-to-face. The vast majority of people today still think that they are good enough, that they do enough work, enough striving for heavenly virtue, to get into the Kingdom of God. The message the rich man needed to hear is the message we need to hear, that our goodness is by the righteousness of Christ, and by His righteousness alone, not by ours.