The opening verse certainly sets the stage for how Jesus will approach this delusional religious man. He shows his misconception of what is good, but in the same breath shows his misconception about how one is granted eternal life. Verse 18 is short, but it tells us a lot. Notice what question the man poses to Jesus in verse 18 once more-
“Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
I sense a misapprehension of the gospel. Consider just three words in verse 18- GOOD, DO, & INHERIT. Do you see how closely the man links being good and doing things with earning salvation? This simple sentence reveals a whole misconstruction of our relationship with God. This verse sets the stage for how Jesus will proceed with this man. The man thinks that you must do something, follow a set of rules, complete a check list, in order to gain favor with God. It is clear in the way he words his question. The irony is that he does use the correct wording concerning how we receive salvation or eternal life. It is indeed an inheritance. This is for sure.
How is an inheritance received? Someone else earns money or obtains a precious item and wills it to you. An inheritance, strictly speaking, is not earned. It is a gracious bestowment to a person who is related to the giver. The man makes a common mistake: He assumes that inheritance of eternal life is connected to our righteousness. In essence, we do something that requires God to reward us. We behave righteously, so God must give us something for our behavior. The man believes his righteous works merit favor from God. In essence, he asks Jesus, "what must I do to require God to accept me in to his Kingdom". There could hardly be a more serious error in understanding.