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The Alpha and Omega Code: The Personal Life Story of Immanuel Jesus Christ by Anthony C. Beaver - HTML preview

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The Alpha and Omega Code

The Personal Life Story of Immanuel Jesus Christ By Anthony Curtis Beaver

Forward

Welcome to the Alpha and Omega Code. In this book I have reversed engineered or reformulated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John by taking them apart line by line, verse by verse, and code by code to formulate a clearer picture of what Christs life was like here on earth. This book includes all of his teachings, miracles, and trials, to the bitter end on the cross, his resurrection, showing himself to his disciples, including his final teachings to them before his ascension to heaven sitting at the right hand of God.

This book represents the core of the Christian belief system. It is written so everyone can read and understand it. So many people claim to know Christ, but following his teachings is an essential aspect of being a Christian. Everything we are to do is in the Gospels for us to read. He told us who are his people and who are not his people. It is a personal relationship with him, obeying his teachings and being born again, nothing more or less. Does he know you as a person? The only way for that to happen is to talk to him every day and have a relationship with him like someone who is your friend. Talk to him like someone that is standing beside you. Anyone can have Christ as a best friend. You just have to spend time with him. You have to work at it every day. By working on this relationship with him you draw closer to him, and he draws closer to you and helps you with your path in life.

Now, let me explain why this is a code book. I have used the most respected Gospel writers to form a complete history with all that facts of Christs life. I once experienced a life changing event, where I was given my own revelation from God. In a vision; he took me into the Code Room of the Universe. In the Code Room, I saw code falling and forming certain things, these things are make up our Universe, much like the cover of this book. During this profound moment the idea of writing the Alpha and Omega Code came to me. Years later, I started this book by copying one verse at a time to follow a time line. You could say that I formed this book by a lot of lines of code.

My personal life hit rock bottom when I was 18 years old; I realized that I was killing myself with drugs and alcohol. I was lost in the filth that I called my life. I asked for Christ to help me and he did to rid myself of that disease. I have been a recovering alcoholic for 20 years now. Every day I make choices that are on the level of life and death for me. With Christs help I make the right choices and that is true freedom.

I have a degree in engineering, and troubleshooting problematic systems was my specialty. I was published at the age of 19 in hybrid technologies and did advanced research in before I was 20. It took all that I had in me to finish this book as a readable and enjoyable work. There is not much information on how to reverse engineer biblical history and make it into a modern format that is a pleasure to read, so I did the best that I could do.

I hope that this book will be the most complete and accessible account of the works of Christ on the market today. I do not add my personal ideas or religion to any of this book. I have come to the point of my walk with Christ that I have developed the confidence to write my very own Gospel. Admitting that I am a sinner, I must always be vigilant, and keep myself humble on a daily basis. Pride is a cunning snare that I cannot afford to walk into.

I am the one that cries from the wilderness and says, “Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord's return.”

Chapter 1

Many people have written accounts about the events that took place among us. They used as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses of what God has done in fulfillment of his promises. Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you, to reassure you of the truth of all you were taught.

In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent John the Baptist to tell everyone about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was only a witness to the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world.

Although the world was made through him, the world didn't recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted.

To all who believed in him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, this rebirth comes from God. So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. We have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.

It all begins with a Jewish priest, Zechariah, who lived when Herod was king of Judea. Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary and burn incense in the Lord's presence. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

Zechariah was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense altar.

Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. The angel said, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! You are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or hard liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. He will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom."
Zechariah said to the angel, "How can I know this will happen? I'm an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years."
The angel said, "I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! Now, since you didn't believe what I said, you won't be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time."
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn't speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures that he must have seen a vision in the Temple sanctuary. He stayed at the Temple until his term of service was over, then he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.
"How kind the Lord is!" she exclaimed. "He has taken away my disgrace of not having any children!"
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
Gabriel appeared to her and said, "Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
"Don't be frightened, Mary," the angel told her, "For God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!"
Mary asked the angel, "But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin."
Gabriel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What's more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she's already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true?"
Then the angel left.
A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, "You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what He said."
Mary responded, "Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! He took notice of his lowly servant girl and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For him, the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him. His mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. How he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful. God promised our ancestors, Abraham and his children, to be merciful to them forever."
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.
Now it was time for Elizabeth's baby to be born, and it was a boy. The word spread quickly to her neighbors and relatives that the Lord had been very kind to her, and everyone rejoiced with her.
When the baby was eight days old, all the relatives and friends came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father.
Elizabeth said, "No! His name is John!"
"What?" they exclaimed. "There is no one in all your family by that name." So they asked the baby's father, communicating to him by making gestures.
He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone's surprise he wrote, "His name is John!"
Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. Wonder fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, "I wonder what this child will turn out to be? The hand of the Lord is surely upon him in a special way."
His father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy: "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has visited His people and redeemed them. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant with them, the covenant he gave to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies, so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness forever.”
"You, my little son, you will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God's tender mercy, the light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace."
John grew up and became strong in spirit. Then he lived out in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.
Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli. Heli was the son of Matthat. Matthat was the son of Levi. Levi was the son of Melki. Melki was the son of Jannai. Jannai was the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Mattathias. Mattathias was the son of Amos. Amos was the son of Nahum. Nahum was the son of Esli. Esli was the son of Naggai. Naggai was the son of Maath. Maath was the son of Mattathias. Mattathias was the son of Semein. Semein was the son of Josech. Josech was the son of Joda. Joda was the son of Joanan. Joanan was the son of Rhesa. Rhesa was the son of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the son of Neri. Neri was the son of Melki. Melki was the son of Addi. Addi was the son of Cosam. Cosam was the son of Elmadam. Elmadam was the son of Er. Er was the son of Joshua. Joshua was the son of Eliezer. Eliezer was the son of Jorim. Jorim was the son of Matthat. Matthat was the son of Levi. Levi was the son of Simeon. Simeon was the son of Judah. Judah was the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Jonam. Jonam was the son of Eliakim. Eliakim was the son of Melea. Melea was the son of Menna. Menna was the son of Mattatha. Mattatha was the son of Nathan. Nathan was the son of David. David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz. Boaz was the son of Salmon. Salmon was the son of Nahshon. Nahshon was the son of Amminadab. Amminadab was the son of Admin. Admin was the son of Arni. Arni was the son of Hezron. Hezron was the son of Perez. Perez was the son of Judah. Judah was the son of Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham. Abraham was the son of Terah. Terah was the son of Nahor. Nahor was the son of Serug. Serug was the son of Reu. Reu was the son of Peleg. Peleg was the son of Eber. Eber was the son of Shelah. Shelah was the son of Cainan. Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was the son of Shem. Shem was the son of Noah. Noah was the son of Lamech. Lamech was the son of Methuselah. Methuselah was the son of Enoch. Enoch was the son of Jared. Jared was the son of Mahalalel. Mahalalel was the son of Kenan. Kenan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God.
Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. While she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.
As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "Do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
All of this happened to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet: "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel, meaning God is with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her son was born. Joseph named him Jesus.
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All returned to their own towns to register for this census. Because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time. While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! This is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others, the armies of heaven, praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, and let us go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. There was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for the purification offering, as required by the Law of Moses after the birth of a child. So his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, "If a woman's first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord." So they offered a sacrifice according to what was required in the law of the Lord, "Either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem and he was a righteous man and very devout. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he eagerly expected the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah. That day, the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, "Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior you have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!"
Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was being said about Jesus. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, "This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed, and a sword will pierce your very soul."
Anna, a prophetess, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and was very old. She was a widow, for her husband had died when they had been married only seven years. She was now eighty-four years old. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about Jesus to everyone who had been waiting for the promised King to come and deliver Jerusalem.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him."
Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem with him. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law.
"Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them.
"In Bethlehem," they said, "For this is what the prophet wrote: `O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.'“
Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. When you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!" After this interview the wise men went their way.
Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child." That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt."
Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. Herod's brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah: "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah, weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead."
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him, "Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead."
So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod's son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee. So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: "He will be called a Nazarene."
When Jesus' parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him.
Every year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn't miss him at first, because they assumed he was with friends among the other travelers. But when he didn't show up that evening, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.
When they couldn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him. He was in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, discussing deep questions with them. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn't know what to think.
"Son!" his mother said to him. "Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere."
"But why did you need to search?" he asked. "You should have known that I would be in my Father's house."
They didn't understand what he meant. Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored all these things in her heart. So Jesus grew both in height and in wisdom, and he was loved by God and by all who knew him.

Chapter 2

It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living out in the wilderness. Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, "He is a voice shouting in the wilderness: `Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills! Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places! Then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'“

Here begins the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God said, "Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness: `Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!'“ This messenger was John the Baptist.

In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness. His message was, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." John's clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from every section of Judea and from all over the Jordan Valley went out to the wilderness to hear him preach. When they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

When he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. "You brood of snakes!" he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee God's coming judgment? Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. Don't just say, `We're safe, we're the descendants of Abraham.' That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

"I baptize with water those who turn from thei r sins and turn to God. Someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am, so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the grain with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, storing the grain in his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire."

The crowd asked, "What should we do?" John replied, "If you have two coats, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry."
Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, "Teacher, what should we do?"
"Show your honesty," he replied. "Make sure you collect no more taxes than the Roman government requires you to."
"What should we do?" asked some soldiers.
John replied, "Don't extort money, and don't accuse people of things you know they didn't do. Be content with your pay."
John pointed him out to the people. He shouted to the crowds, "This is the one I was talking about when I said, `Someone is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.'“
"We have all benefited from the rich blessings he brought to us, one gracious blessing after another. The law was given through Moses; God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart.”
This was the testimony of John when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John whether he claimed to be the Messiah. He flatly denied it.
"I am not the Messiah," he said.
"Well then, who are you?" they asked. "Are you Elijah?"
"No," he replied.
"Are you the Prophet?"
"No."
"Then who are you? Tell us, so we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?"
John replied in the words of Isaiah: "I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, `Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord's coming!'"
Then those who were sent by the Pharisees asked him, "If you aren't the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?"
This incident took place at Bethany, a village east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, `Soon a man is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.' I didn't know he was the one, but I have been baptizing with water in order to point him out to Israel."
Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John didn't want to baptize him.
"I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "So why are you coming to me?"
Jesus said, "It must be done, because we must do everything that is right."
So John baptized him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. A voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him."
John said, "I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn't know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, `When you see the Holy Spirit descending and resting upon someone, he is the one you are looking for. He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Son of God.”
Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
Then the Devil came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread."
Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, `People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.“
Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, `He orders his angels to protect you. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.'”
Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, `Do not test the Lord your God.'"
Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. The Devil told him, "I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them; because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will bow down and worship me."
"Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say, `You must worship the Lord your God; and serve only him.'"
Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.
The following day, John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and then declared, "Look! There is the Lamb of God!" John's two disciples turned and followed Jesus.
Jesus looked around and saw them following. "What do you want?" he asked them.
They replied, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "Where are you staying?"
"Come and see," he said.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when they went with him to that place, and they stayed there the rest of the day. Andrew, Simon's brother, was one of these men who had heard what John said and then followed Jesus.
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means the Christ). Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus.
Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, "You are Simon, the son of John, but you will be called Peter."
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Come, be my disciple."
Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Simon-Peter's hometown. Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."
"Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?"
"Just come and see for yourself," Philip said.
As they approached, Jesus said, "Here comes an honest man, a true son of Israel."
"How do you know about me?" Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied, "I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you."
Nathanael replied, "Teacher, you are the Son of God, the King of Israel!"
Jesus asked him, "Do you believe all this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this."
Then he said, "The truth is, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down upon the Son of Man."
The next day Jesus' mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother spoke to him about the problem.
"They have no more wine," she told him.
"How does that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come."
But his mother told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Six stone water pots were standing there; they were used for Jewish ceremonial purposes and held twenty to thirty gallons each. Jesus told the servants "Fill the jars with water." When the jars had been filled to the brim, he said, "Dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies." So they followed his instructions.
When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. "Usually a host serves the best wine first," he said. "Then, when everyone is full and doesn't care, he brings out the less expensive wines. But you have kept the best until now!"
This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus' first display of his glory. His disciples believed in him.
After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. It was time for the annual Passover celebration, and Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and he saw money changers behind their counters. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers' coins all over the floor, and turned over their tables.
Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, "Get these things out of here. Don't turn my Father's house into a marketplace!"
His disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: "Passion for God's house burns within me."
"What right do you have to do these things?" the Jewish leaders demanded. "If you have this authority from God, show us a miraculous sign to prove it."
"All right," Jesus replied. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
"What!" they exclaimed. "It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can do it in three days?"
But by "This temple," Jesus meant his body. After he was raised from the dead, the disciples remembered that he had said this. They believed both Jesus and the Scriptures.
Because of the miraculous signs he did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many people were convinced that he was indeed the Messiah. But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew what people were really like. No one needed to tell him about human nature.
After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus.
"Teacher," he said, "We all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you."
Jesus replied, "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
Jesus replied, "The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. So don't be surprised at my statement that you must be born again. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."
"What do you mean?" Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things? I assure you, I am telling you what we know and have seen, and yet you won't believe us. But if you don't even believe me when I tell you about things that happen here on earth, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? Only I, the Son of Man, have come to earth and will return to heaven again. As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.”
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.”
"There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished. But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants."
Afterward Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem, but they stayed in Judea for a while and baptized there. (Though Jesus himself didn't baptize them, his disciples did).
So he left Judea to return to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually, he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.
Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Please give me a drink."
He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.
She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?"
Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."
"But sir, you don't have a rope or a bucket," she said, "And this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? Besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?"
Jesus replied, "People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life."
"Please sir," said the woman, "Give me some of that water! Then I'll never be thirsty again, and I won't have to come here to haul water."
"Go and get your husband," Jesus told her.
"I don't have a husband," the woman replied.
Jesus said, "You're right! You don't have a husband; for you have had five husbands, and you aren't even married to the man you're living with now."
"Sir," the woman said, "You must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?"
Jesus replied, "Believe me; the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem.”
“You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. The time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."
The woman said, "I know the Messiah will come, the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
Then Jesus told her, "I am the Messiah!"
Just then his disciples arrived. They were astonished to find him talking to a woman, but none of them asked him why he was doing it or what they had been discussing.
The woman left her water jars beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, "Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?" So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat. "No," he said, "I have food you don't know about."
"Who brought it to him?" the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is a person brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, `One person plants and someone else harvests.' And it's true. I sent you to harvest where you didn't plant; others had already done the work, and you will gather the harvest."
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, "He told me everything I ever did!" When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay at their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many of them to hear his message and believe.
Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe because we have heard him ourselves, not just because of what you told us. He is indeed the Savior of the world."
John publicly criticized Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, for marrying Herodias, his brother's wife, and for many other wrongs he had done. Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife.
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. "At last the time has come!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!"
Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit's power. Soon he became well known throughout the surrounding country. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll containing the messages of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him, and he unrolled the scroll to the place where it says: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue stared at him intently. Then he said, "This Scripture has come true today before your very eyes!"
All who were there spoke well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that fell from his lips. "How can this be?" they asked. "Isn't this Joseph's son?"
Then he said, "Probably you will quote me that proverb, `Physician, heal yourself, why don't you do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum?' But the truth is no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. Certainly there were many widows in Israel who needed help in Elijah's time, when there was no rain for three and a half years and hunger stalked the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a widow of Zarephath, a foreigner in the land of Sidon. Or think of the prophet Elisha, who healed Naaman, a Syrian, rather than the many lepers in Israel who needed help."
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and took him to the edge of the hill on which the city was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he slipped away through the crowd and left them.
Instead of going to Nazareth, he went to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy: "In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined."
From then on, Jesus began to preach, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Chapter 3

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water's edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon-Peter, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon-Peter, "Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets, and you will catch many fish."

"Master," Simon-Peter replied, "We worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing. But if you say so, we'll try again." This time their nets were so full they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon-Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, "Oh, Lord, please leave me, I'm too much of a sinner to be around you." He was awestruck by the size of their catch, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon-Peter, "Don't be afraid! From now on you'll be fishing for people!" As soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

In the course of his journey through Galilee, he arrived at the town of Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in the city of Capernaum whose son was very sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea and was traveling in Galilee, he went over to Cana. He found Jesus and begged him to come to Capernaum with him to heal his son, who was about to die.

Jesus asked, "Must I do miraculous signs and wonders before you people will believe in me?"
The official pleaded, "Lord, please come now before my little boy dies."
Then Jesus told him, "Go back home. Your son will live!"
The man believed Jesus' word and started home. While he was on his way, some of his servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well. He asked them when the boy had begun to feel better, and they replied, "Yesterday afternoon at one o'clock his fever suddenly disappeared!" Then the father realized it was the same time that Jesus had told him, "Your son will live." The officer and his entire household believed in Jesus. This was Jesus' second miraculous sign in Galilee after coming from Judea.
Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum, and every Sabbath day he went into the synagogue and taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority, quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
A man possessed by an evil spirit was in the synagogue, and he began shouting, "Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One sent from God!"
Jesus cut him short. "Be silent! Come out of the man."
At that, the evil spirit screamed and threw the man into a convulsion, but then he left him.
Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. "What sort of new teaching is this?" they asked excitedly. "It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey him and flee at his command!" The news of what he had done spread quickly through that entire area of Galilee.
After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they went over to Simon-Peter and Andrew's home, and James and John were with them. Simon-Peter's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. "Please heal her," everyone begged. Standing at her bedside, he spoke to the fever, rebuking it, and immediately her temperature returned to normal. She got up at once and prepared a meal for them.
That evening at sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. A huge crowd of people from all over Capernaum gathered outside the door to watch. So Jesus healed great numbers of sick people who had many different kinds of diseases, and he ordered many demons to come out of their victims. The demons came out at his command, shouting, "You are the Son of God." Because they knew he was the Messiah, he stopped them and told them to be silent. He refused to allow the demons to speak.
This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Isaiah, who said, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."
The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. Later Simon-Peter and the others went out to find him. They said, "Everyone is asking for you." The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. But he replied, "We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came."
Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom. He healed people who had every kind of sickness and disease. News about him spread far beyond the borders of Galilee so that the sick were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. Whatever their illness and pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were epileptics, or were paralyzed, he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went, people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. "If you want to, you can make me well again," he said.
Moved with pity, Jesus touched him. "I want to," he said. "Be healed!"
Instantly the leprosy disappeared and this man was healed. Then Jesus sent him on his way and told him sternly, "Go right over to the priest and let him examine you. Don't talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the Law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing."
As the man went on his way, he spread the news, telling everyone what had happened to him. As a result, such crowds soon surrounded Jesus that he couldn't enter a town anywhere publicly. He had to stay out in the secluded places, and people from everywhere came to him there. Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
When Jesus noticed how large the crowd was growing, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go!"
Jesus said, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head."
Another of his disciples said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."
Jesus told him, "Follow me now! Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead."
Then Jesus was already in the boat, so they started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). Soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically the disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
Jesus answered, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!"
Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm. The disciples just sat there in awe. "Who is this?" they asked themselves. "Even the wind and waves obey him!"
They arrived at the other side of the lake, in the land of the Gerasenes. Just as Jesus was climbing from the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit ran out from a cemetery to meet him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Homeless and naked, he had lived in a cemetery for a long time. This man lived among the tombs and could not be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles, as he often was, he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to control him. All day long and throughout the night, he would wander among the tombs and in the hills, screaming and hitting himself with stones.
When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him. He ran to meet Jesus and fell down before him. He gave a terrible scream, shrieking, "Why are you bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God's sake, don't torture me!"
Jesus said to the spirit, "Come out of the man, you evil spirit."
Then Jesus asked, "What is your name?"
The spirit replied, "Legion,” for the man was filled with many demons.
Then the spirits begged him again and again not to send them into the Bottomless Pit. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. "Send us into those pigs," the evil spirits begged.
Jesus gave them permission. So the evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of two thousand pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake, where they drowned.
The herdsmen fled to the nearby city and the surrounding countryside, spreading the news as they ran. Everyone rushed out to see for themselves. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, for they wanted to see for themselves what had happened. They saw the man who had been possessed by demons sitting quietly at Jesus' feet, clothed and sane. The whole crowd was afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed.
The crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone.
When Jesus got back into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go, too. Jesus said, "No, go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been."
So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to tell everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.
On the other side of the lake the crowds received Jesus with open arms because they had been waiting for him. A leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, came and fell down before him, pleading with him to heal his little daughter. "She is about to die," he said in desperation. "Please come and place your hands on her; and heal her so she can live."
Jesus went with him, and the crowd thronged behind. There was a woman in the crowd who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors through the years and had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she was worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched the fringe of his robe. She thought to herself, "If I can just touch his clothing, I will be healed." Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel that she had been healed!
Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" His disciples said to him, "This entire crowd is pressing around you. How can you ask, `Who touched me?'" Jesus told him, "No, someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me." He kept on looking around to see who had done it.
The frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. You have been healed."
While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from Jairus's home with the message, "Your daughter is dead. There's no use troubling the Teacher now."
Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid. Just trust me, and she will be all right."
Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn't let anyone go with him except Simon-Peter and James and John. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw the commotion and the weeping and wailing. He went inside and spoke to the people. "Why all this weeping and commotion?" he asked. "The child isn't dead; she is only asleep." The crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died, but he told them all to go outside.
He took the girl's father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, "Get up, little girl!" At that moment her life returned and the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! Her parents were absolutely overwhelmed. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what had happened, and he told them to give her something to eat.
After Jesus left the girl's home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" They went right into the house where he was staying.
Jesus asked them, "Do you believe I can make you see?"
"Yes, Lord," they told him, "We do."
He touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen." Suddenly they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, "Don't tell anyone about this." Instead, they spread his fame all over the region.
When they left, some people brought to him a man who couldn't speak because he was possessed by a demon. So Jesus casted out the demon, and instantly the man could talk.
The crowds marveled. "Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!" they exclaimed. But the Pharisees said, "He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons."
Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of his arrival spread quickly through the town. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn't room for one more person, not even outside the door. He preached the word to them. While Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) The Lord's healing power was strong with Jesus.
Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above his head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
Some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there said to themselves, "What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins?"
Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves, so he said to them, "Why do you think this is blasphemy? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, `Your sins are forgiven' or `get up, pick up your mat, and walk'? I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins."
Jesus then turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!"
The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen right before their eyes. They praised God, saying over and over again, "We have seen amazing things today."
Jesus went out to the lakeshore again, and taught to the crowds that gathered around him. As he walked along, he saw Matthew son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax-collection booth. "Come, be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up, left everything, and followed him.
That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. (There were many people of this kind among the crowds that followed Jesus.) When some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"
When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough."
John's disciples and the Pharisees sometimes fasted. One day, some people came to Jesus and asked, "Why do John's disciples and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't fast?"
Jesus replied, "Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not! They can't fast while they are with the groom. Someday he will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
“Who would patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth? The new patch shrinks and pulls away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger hole than before.”
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would burst the old skins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be put into new wineskins. No one who drinks the old wine seems to want the fresh and the new. `The old is better,' they say."
Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holydays. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people, blind, lame, or paralyzed, lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"
"I can't, sir," the sick man said, "For I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me."
Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!" Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking! This miracle happened on the Sabbath day. So the Jewish leaders objected.
They said to the man who was cured, "You can't work on the Sabbath! It's illegal to carry that sleeping mat!"
He replied, "The man who healed me said to me, `Pick up your sleeping mat and walk.'"
"Who said such a thing as that?" they demanded.
The man didn't know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. Afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, "Now you are well; stop sinning or something even worse may happen to you." Then the man went to find the Jewish leaders and told them it was Jesus who had healed him.
The Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules.
Jesus replied, "My Father never stops working, so why should I?"
So the Jewish leaders tried all the more to kill him. In addition to disobeying the Sabbath rules, he had spoken of God as his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
Jesus replied, "I assure you, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and tells him everything he is doing, and the Son will do far greater things than healing this man. You will be astonished at what he does. He will even raise from the dead anyone he wants to, just as the Father does. The Father leaves all judgment to his Son, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. If you refuse to honor the Son, then you are certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
"I assure you that the time is coming, in fact it is here, when the dead will hear my voice, the voice of the Son of God; and those who listen will live. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted his Son to have life in himself. He has given him authority to judge all mankind because he is the Son of Man. Don't be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God's Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to judgment. I do nothing without consulting the Father. I judge as I am told. My judgment is absolutely just, because it is according to the will of God who sent me; it is not merely my own.”
"If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. Someone else is also testifying about me, and I can assure you that everything he says about me is true. In fact, you sent messengers to listen to John the Baptist, and he preached the truth. The best testimony about me is not from a man, though I have reminded you about John's testimony so you might be saved. John shone brightly for a while, and you benefited and rejoiced. I have a greater witness than John, my teachings and my miracles. They have been assigned to me by the Father, and they testify that the Father has sent me. The Father himself has also testified about me. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me, the one he sent to you.”
"You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. The Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you this eternal life.”
"Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me, because I know you don't have God's love within you. I have come to you representing my Father, and you refuse to welcome me, even though you readily accept others who represent only themselves. No wonder you can't believe! You gladly honor each other, but you don't care about the honor that comes from God alone.”
"Yet it is not I who will accuse you of this before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, on whom you set your hopes. If you had believed Moses, you would have believed me because he wrote about me. Since you don't believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

Chapter 4

One Sabbath day Jesus was walking through some grain fields. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off heads of wheat and eating the grain. Some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, "Your disciples shouldn't be doing that! It's against the law to work by harvesting grain on the Sabbath."

Jesus said to them, "Haven't you ever read in the Scriptures what King David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they ate the special bread reserved for the priests alone. That was breaking the law, too. Haven't you ever read in the Law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned those who aren't guilty if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: `I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.' For I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath."

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus' enemies watched him closely. Would he heal the man's hand on the Sabbath? If he did, they planned to condemn him.

Jesus said to the man, "Come and stand in front of everyone." Then he turned to his critics and asked, "Is it legal to do good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing harm? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?" But they wouldn't answer him.

He looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, "Reach out your hand." The man reached out his hand, and it became normal again!

At this point, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage. At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to discuss plans for killing Jesus.

Jesus and his disciples went out to the lake, followed by a huge crowd from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far away as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him for themselves.

Jesus instructed his disciples to bring around a boat and to have it ready in case he was crowded off the beach. There had been many healings that day. As a result, many sick people were crowding around him, trying to touch him. Whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, they would fall down in front of him shrieking, "You are the Son of God!" Jesus strictly warned them not to say who he was.

Afterward, Jesus went up on a mountain and called the ones he wanted to go with him and they came to him. He selected twelve of them to be his regular companions, calling them apostles. He sent them out to preach, and he gave them authority to cast out demons.

These are the names of the twelve he chose: Simon (he renamed Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them "Sons of Thunder"), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

When they came down the slopes of the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. Everyone was trying to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and they were all cured.

This is what he taught them:
"God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is given to you. God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them. God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. Remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.”
"What sorrows await you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. What sorrows await you who are satisfied and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger is before you. What sorrows await you who laugh carelessly, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. What sorrows await you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets.”
"You are the salt of the earth. What good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”
“You are the light of the world, like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
"Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
"I warn you, unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!”
"You have heard that the Law of Moses says, `Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' I say if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. If you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
"So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.”
"You have heard that the Law of Moses says, `Do not commit adultery.' I say anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye, even if it is your good eye, causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your hand, even if it is your stronger hand, causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
"You have heard that the Law of Moses says, `A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.' I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. Anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
"Again, you have heard that the Law of Moses says, `Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' I say, don't make any vows! If you say, `By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. If you say, `By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. Don't swear, `By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Don't even swear, `By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, `Yes, I will,' or `no, I won't.' Your word is enough, to strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.”
"You have heard that the Law of Moses says, `If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.' I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow.”
"You have heard that the Law of Moses says, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do, blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. When you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving, large or small, it will be used to measure what is given back to you."
"Now about prayer: When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, which is all the reward they will ever get. When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”
"When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don't be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
“Pray like this:”
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. Don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
"When you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, which is the only reward they will ever get. When you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. Your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”
"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal them. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”
"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. An evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep will that darkness be!”
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”
“You cannot serve both God and money.”
"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. You are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.”
"Why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!”
"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”
"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.”
"Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. Why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, `Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.”
"Don't give what is holy to unholy people. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”
"Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. The door is opened to everyone who knocks. You parents, if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”
"Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
"You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many that choose the easy way. The gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few will ever find it.”
"Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You don't pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced.”
"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, `Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' I will reply, `I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.”
"Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock. Anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish. It is like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash."
After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority, quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
When Jesus had finished saying all this, he went back to Capernaum. When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, "Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and racked with pain."
Jesus said, "I will come and heal him."
Then the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed! I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, `Go,' and they go, or `come,' and they come. If I say to my slaves, `Do this or that,' they do it."
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, "I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all the land of Israel! I tell you this that many Gentiles will come from all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites, those for whom the Kingdom was prepared, will be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go on home. What you have believed has happened." The young servant was healed that same hour.
Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, with a great crowd following him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The boy who had died was the only son of a widow, and many mourners from the village were with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion.
"Don't cry!" he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. "Young man," he said, "Get up." Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk to those around him! Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, "A mighty prophet has risen among us," and "we have seen the hand of God at work today." The report of what Jesus had done that day spread all over Judea and even out across its borders.
The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, "Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?" John's two disciples found Jesus and said to him, "John the Baptist sent us to ask, `Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'"
At that very time, he cured many people of their various diseases, and he cast out evil spirits and restored sight to the blind. Then he told John's disciples, "Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. Tell him, `God blesses those who are not offended by me.'"
After they left, Jesus talked to the crowd about John. "Who is this man in the wilderness that you went out to see? Did you find him weak as a reed, moved by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces, not in the wilderness. From the time John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it. Before John came, all the teachings of the Scriptures looked forward to this present time. If you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, `Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way before you.' I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!"
When they heard this, all the people, including the unjust tax collectors, agreed that God's plan was right, for they had been baptized by John. The Pharisees and experts in religious law had rejected God's plan for them, for they had refused John's baptism.
"How shall I describe this generation?" Jesus asked. "With what will I compare them? They are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, `We played wedding songs, and you weren't happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren't sad.' John the Baptist didn't drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, `He's demon possessed.' I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, `He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!' Wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it."
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they hadn't turned from their sins and turned to God. "What horrors await you, Korazin and Bethsaida? If the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have sat in deep repentance long ago, clothed in sackcloth and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I assure you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on the judgment day than you!”
“You people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. If the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you."
Then Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!”
"My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."

Chapter 5

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to come to his home for a meal, so Jesus accepted the invitation and sat down to eat. A certain immoral woman heard he was there and brought a beautiful jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and put perfume on them. When the Pharisee who was the host saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, "This proves that Jesus is no prophet. If God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She's a sinner!"

Then Jesus spoke up and answered his thoughts. "Simon," he said to the Pharisee, "I have something to say to you."

"All right, Teacher," Simon replied, "Go ahead."

Then Jesus told him this story: "A man loaned money to two people, five hundred pieces of silver to one and fifty pieces to the other. Neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?"

Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt."
"That's right," Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn't give me a kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins, and they are many, have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. A person who is forgiven little shows only little love."
Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."
The men at the table said among themselves, "Who does this man think he is, going around forgiving sins?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Not long afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby cities and villages to announce the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women he had healed and from whom he had cast out evil spirits. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. There was such a large crowd along the shore that he got into a boat and sat down and spoke from there. He began to teach the people by telling many stories such as this one:
"Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plant sprang up quickly, but it soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. Other seed fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades so that it produced no grain. Still other seed fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted."
Then he said, "Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"
Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him, "What do your stories mean?"
He replied, "You are permitted to understand the secret about the Kingdom of God. I am using these stories to conceal everything about it from outsiders, so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: `They see what I do, but they don't perceive its meaning. They hear my words, but they don't understand. So they will not turn from their sins and be forgiven.'“
"If you can't understand this story, how will you understand all the others I am going to tell? The farmer I talked about is the one who brings God's message to others. The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the message, but then Satan comes at once and takes it away from them. The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. Like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced. The good soil represents honest, good-hearted people who hear God's message, cling to it, and steadily produce a huge harvest.”
"Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed to shut out the light? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine.”
"Everything that is now hidden or secret will eventually be brought to light. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand! Be sure to pay attention to what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand, and even more, besides. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given. To those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them."
"Here is another illustration of what the Kingdom of God is like: A farmer planted seeds in a field, and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer's help, because the earth produces crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. As soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle."
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night as everyone slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.”
“The farmer's servants came and told him, `Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds!'"
“`An enemy has done it!' the farmer exclaimed."
“`Shall we pull out the weeds?' they asked.”
"He replied, `No, you'll hurt the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.'"
"How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed. Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can come and find shelter."
"What else is the Kingdom of God like? It is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough."
Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled the prophecy that said, "I will speak to you in parables. I will explain mysteries hidden since the creation of the world." Afterward when he was alone with his disciples, he explained the meaning to them.
Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, "Please explain the story of the weeds in the field."
"All right," he said.
"I, the Son of Man, am the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.”
"Just as the weeds are separated out and burned, so it will be at the end of the world. I, the Son of Man, will send my angels, and they will remove from my Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, and they will throw them into the furnace and burn them. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!”
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field, and to get the treasure, too!”
"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that is thrown into the water and gathers fish of every kind. When the net is full, they drag it up onto the shore, sit it down, sort the good fish into crates, and throw the bad ones away.”
“That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly, throwing the wicked into the fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand?"
"Yes," they said, "We do."
Then he added, "Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old."
As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers were outside, wanting to talk with him. Someone told Jesus, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you."
Jesus asked, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he pointed to his disciples and said, "These are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!"
When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.
They asked, "Where did he get all his wisdom and the power to perform such miracles? He's just the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. His sisters live right here among us." They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family." Because of their unbelief, he couldn't do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their unbelief. Then Jesus went out from village to village, teaching.
Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. Wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn't know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd.
He said to his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields." When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went off teaching and preaching in towns throughout the country.
Jesus sent the twelve disciples out with these instructions: "Don't go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel--God's lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”
"Don't take any money with you. Don't carry a traveler's bag with an extra coat and sandals or even a walking stick. Don't hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy man and stay in his home until you leave for the next town. When you are invited into someone's home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If a village doesn't welcome you or listen to you, shake off the dust of that place from your feet as you leave. I assure you, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off on the judgment day than that place will be.”
"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! You will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. You must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me--yes, to witness to the world. When you are arrested, don't worry about what to say in your defense, because you will be given the right words at the right time. It won't be you doing the talking--it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
"Brother will betray brother to death, fathers will betray their own children, and children will rise against their parents and cause them to be killed. Everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. Those who endure to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I assure you that I, the Son of Man, will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.”
"A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master. The student shares the teacher's fate. The servant shares the master's fate. Since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, how much more will it happen to you, the members of the household! Don't be afraid of those who threaten you. The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ears, shout from the housetops for all to hear!”
"Don't be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. The very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.”
"If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. If anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.”
"Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household! If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.”
"Anyone who welcomes you is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me. If you welcome a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will receive the same reward a prophet gets. If you welcome good and godly people because of their godliness, you will be given a reward like theirs. If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded."
So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.
Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brothers Philip's wife, but Herod had married her. John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry your brother's wife." Herodias was enraged and wanted John killed in revenge, but without Herod's approval she was powerless.
Herod respected John, knowing that he was a good and holy man, so he kept him under his protection. Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him. Herodias's chance finally came. It was Herod's birthday, and he gave a party for his palace aides, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased them all.
"Ask me for anything you like," the king said to the girl, "And I will give it to you." Then he promised, "I will give you whatever you ask, up to half of my kingdom!"
She went out and asked her mother, "What should I ask for?"
Her mother told her, "Ask for John the Baptist's head!"
So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, "I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!"
Then the king was very sorry, but he was embarrassed to break his oath in front of his guests.
He sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John's head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison, brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother.
When John's disciples heard what had happened, they came for his body and buried it in a tomb. Then they told Jesus what had happened.
The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and what they had taught.
Then Jesus said, "Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest."
There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat. They left by boat for a quieter spot. Many people saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and met them as they landed. A vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things.
Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and it is getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy themselves some food."
Jesus said, "You feed them."
"With what?" they asked. "It would take a small fortune to buy food for all this crowd!"
"How much food do you have?" he asked. "Go and find out."
They came back and reported, "There's a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. What good is that with this huge crowd?"
Jesus told the crowd to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat in groups of fifty or a hundred. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted. About five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves, in addition to all the women and children!
"Now gather the leftovers," Jesus told his disciples, "So that nothing is wasted." There were only five barley loaves to start with, but twelve baskets were filled with the pieces of bread the people did not eat!
When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, "Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!" Jesus saw that they were ready to take him by force and make him king.
Immediately after this, Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he sent the people home.
Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost.
Jesus spoke to them at once. "It's all right," he said. "I am here! Don't be afraid."
Peter called to him, "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water."
"All right, come," Jesus said.
Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. When he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted.
Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?" When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
The disciples worshiped him. "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed. They were astonished at what they saw. They still didn't understand the significance of the miracle of the multiplied loaves, for their hearts were hard and they did not believe.
After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. They anchored the boat and climbed out. The people standing there recognized him at once, and they ran throughout the whole area and began carrying sick people to him on mats. Wherever he went--in villages and cities and out on the farms--they laid the sick in the market plazas and streets. The sick begged him to let them at least touch the fringe of his robe, and all who touched it were healed.
Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because people everywhere were talking about him. Some were saying, "This must be John the Baptist come back to life again. That is why he can do such miracles." Others thought Jesus was the ancient prophet Elijah. Still others thought he was a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.
"I beheaded John," Herod said, "So who is this man about whom I hear such strange stories?" He then tried to see him.

Chapter 6

The next morning, back across the lake, crowds began gathering on the shore, waiting to see Jesus. They knew that he and his disciples had come over together and that the disciples had gone off in their boat, leaving him behind. Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. When the crowd saw that Jesus wasn't there, nor his disciples, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. When they arrived and found him, they asked, "Teacher, how did you get here?"

Jesus replied, "The truth is, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you saw the miraculous sign. You shouldn't be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Son of Man, can give you. God the Father has sent me for that very purpose."

They replied, "What does God want us to do?"

Jesus told them, "This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one he has sent."
They replied, "You must show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What will you do for us? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! As the Scriptures say, `Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
Jesus said, "I assure you, Moses didn't give them bread from heaven, my Father did. Now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
"Sir," they said, "Give us that bread every day of our lives."
Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst. You haven't believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want. This is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day. It is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life--that I should raise them at the last day."
Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, "I am the bread from heaven." They said, "This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, `I came down from heaven'?"
Jesus replied, "Don't complain about what I said, for people can't come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them from the dead. As it is written in the Scriptures, `They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.”
"I assure you, anyone who believes in me already has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. However, the bread from heaven gives eternal life to everyone who eats it. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live."
The people began arguing with each other about what he meant. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" they asked.
Jesus said again, "I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day. My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink; all who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me, and I in them. I live by the power of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, those who partake of me will live because of me. I am the true bread from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever and not die as your ancestors did, even though they ate the manna."
He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Even his disciples said, "This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?"
Jesus knew within himself that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, "Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see me, the Son of Man, return to heaven again? It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. The very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life, but some of you don't believe me." (Jesus knew from the beginning who didn't believe, and he knew who would betray him.)
He said, "That is what I meant when I said that people can't come to me unless the Father brings them to me."
One day, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to confront Jesus. They noticed that some of Jesus' disciples failed to follow the usual Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. Similarly, they eat nothing bought from the market unless they have immersed their hands in water. This is, but one of many traditions they have clung to--such as their ceremony of washing cups, pitchers, and kettles.)
So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, "Why don't your disciples follow our age-old customs? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony."
Jesus replied, "You hypocrites! Isaiah was prophesying about you when he said, `These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings.' You ignore God's specific laws and substitute your own traditions."
"You reject God's laws in order to hold on to your own traditions. For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: `Honor your father and mother,' and `anyone who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.' You say it is all right for people to say to their parents, `Sorry, I can't help you. I have vowed to give to God what I could have given to you.' You let them disregard their needy parents. As such, you break the law of God in order to protect your own tradition. This is only one example. There are many, many others."
Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. "All of you listen," he said, "And try to understand. You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do!"
Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowds, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the statement he had made.
"Don't you understand either?" he asked. "Can't you see that what you eat won't defile you? Food doesn't come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then comes out again." (By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.)
Then he added, "It is what you think that defiles you. From within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceitfulness, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God."
Jesus then left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter has a demon in her, and it is severely tormenting her."
But Jesus gave her no reply--not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. "Tell her to leave," they said. "She is bothering us with all her begging."
Then he said to the woman, "I was sent only to help the people of Israel--God's lost sheep--not the Gentiles."
She came and worshiped him and pleaded again, "Lord, help me!"
"It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs," he said.
"Yes, Lord," she replied, "But even dogs are permitted to eat crumbs that fall beneath their master's table."
"Woman," Jesus said to her, "Your faith is great. Your request is granted."
When she arrived home, her little girl was lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.
Jesus left Tyre and went to Sidon, then back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. A vast crowd brought him the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others with physical difficulties, and they laid them before Jesus. He healed them all. The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn't been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking around, and those who had been blind could see again! They praised the God of Israel.
A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus led him to a private place away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, spitting onto his own fingers, he touched the man's tongue with the spittle. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and commanded, "Be opened!" Instantly the man could hear perfectly and speak plainly!
Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news, for they were completely amazed. Again and again they said, "Everything he does is wonderful. He even heals those who are deaf and mute."
About this time another great crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the road. Some of them have come a long distance."
The disciples replied, "Where would we get enough food out here in the wilderness for all of them to eat?"
Jesus asked, "How many loaves of bread do you have?"
They replied, "Seven, and a few small fish."
So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, broke them into pieces, and gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.
They all ate until they were full, and when the scraps were picked up, there were seven large baskets of food left over! There were four thousand men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children. Then Jesus sent the people home.
Immediately after this, he got into a boat with his disciples and crossed over to the region of Dalmanutha. When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came to argue with him. Testing him to see if he was from God, they demanded, "Give us a miraculous sign from heaven to prove yourself."
When he heard this, he sighed deeply and said, "Why do you people keep demanding a miraculous sign?"
Then he replied, "You know the saying, `Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow, red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.' You are good at reading the weather signs in the sky, but you can't read the obvious signs of the times! Only an evil, faithless generation would ask for a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give you is the sign of the prophet Jonah."
So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake.
The disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any food, so there was only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod."
They decided he was saying this because they hadn't brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, "Why are you so worried about having no food? Won't you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? `You have eyes--can't you see? You have ears--can't you hear?' Don't you remember anything at all? What about the five thousand men I fed with five loaves of bread? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?"
"Twelve," they said.
"When I fed the four thousand with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?"
"Seven," they said.
"Don't you understand even yet?" he asked them. “How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'"
Then at last they understood that he wasn't speaking about yeast or bread but about the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch and heal the man. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man's eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, "Can you see anything now?"
The man looked around. "Yes," he said, "I see people, but I can't see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around."
Then Jesus placed his hands over the man's eyes again. As the man stared intently, his sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. Jesus sent him home saying, "Don't go back into the village on your way home."
Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
"Well," they replied, "Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets."
Then he asked them, "Who do you say I am?"
Simon-Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus replied, "You are blessed Simon, son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven."
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Are you going to leave, too?"
Simon-Peter replied, "Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life. We believe them, and we know you are the Holy One of God."
Then Jesus said, "I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil." He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would betray him.
Then he sternly warned them not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem, and he told them what would happen to him there. He would suffer at the hands of the leaders and the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and he would be raised on the third day.
Simon-Peter took him aside and corrected him. "Heaven forbid, Lord," he said. "This will never happen to you!"
Jesus turned to Simon-Peter and said, "Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God's."
He called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "You must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. If you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life. How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul? If a person is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels."
Jesus went on to say, "I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see me, the Son of Man, coming in my Kingdom."
Six days later Jesus took Simon-Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to pray. No one else was there. As he was praying, Jesus' appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. They were speaking of how he was about to fulfill God's plan by dying in Jerusalem.
Simon-Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, "Lord, this is wonderful! If you want me to, I'll make three shrines, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
Even as he said it, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him. Listen to him."
The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. Jesus came over and touched them. "Get up," he said, "Do not be afraid." When they looked, they saw only Jesus with them.
As they descended the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen until I, the Son of Man, have been raised from the dead." So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by "rising from the dead."
His disciples asked, "Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?"
Jesus replied, "Elijah is indeed coming first to set everything in order. I tell you, he has already come, but he wasn't recognized, and he was badly mistreated. Soon the Son of Man will also suffer at their hands just as the Scriptures predicted." Then the disciples realized he had been speaking of John the Baptist.
When they arrived at the foot of the mountain they found a great crowd surrounding the other disciples, some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. The crowd watched Jesus in awe as he came toward them, and then they ran to greet him.
"What is all this arguing about?" Jesus asked.
One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, "Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him. He can't speak because he is possessed by an evil spirit that won't let him talk. Whenever this evil spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grind his teeth and become rigid. It is always hitting and injuring him. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn't do it."
Jesus said to them, "You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."
So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
"How long has this been happening?" Jesus asked the boy's father.
He replied, "Since he was very small. The evil spirit often makes him fall into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us. Do something if you can."
"What do you mean, `If I can'?" Jesus asked. "Anything is possible if a person believes."
The father instantly replied, "I do believe, but help me not to doubt!"
When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. "Spirit of deafness and muteness," he said, "I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!"
Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy lay there motionless, and he appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd, "He's dead." Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. Then he gave him back to his father.
Awe gripped the people as they saw this display of God's power. Everyone was marveling over all the wonderful things he was doing.
Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, "Why couldn't we cast out that evil spirit?"
"You didn't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."
Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus tried to avoid all publicity in order to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead."
But they didn't know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

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