A Baptism of Life-Change

1-6 In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius—it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas—John, Zachariah’s son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet:

Thunder in the desert!
“Prepare God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
Every ditch will be filled in,
Every bump smoothed out,
The detours straightened out,
All the ruts paved over.
Everyone will be there to see
The parade of God’s salvation.”

7-9 When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and flourishing? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”

10 The crowd asked him, “Then what are we supposed to do?”

11 “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”

12 Tax men also came to be baptized and said, “Teacher, what should we do?”

13 He told them, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.”

14 Soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He told them, “No harassment, no blackmail—and be content with your rations.”

15 The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, “Could this John be the Messiah?”

16-17 But John intervened: “I’m baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

18-20 There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John’s rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.

21-22 After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

Son of Adam, Son of God

23-38 When Jesus entered public life he was about thirty years old, the son (in public perception) of Joseph, who was—

son of Heli,

son of Matthat,

son of Levi,

son of Melki,

son of Jannai,

son of Joseph,

son of Mattathias,

son of Amos,

son of Nahum,

son of Esli,

son of Naggai,

son of Maath,

son of Mattathias,

son of Semein,

son of Josech,

son of Joda,

son of Joanan,

son of Rhesa,

son of Zerubbabel,

son of Shealtiel,

son of Neri,

son of Melchi,

son of Addi,

son of Cosam,

son of Elmadam,

son of Er,

son of Joshua,

son of Eliezer,

son of Jorim,

son of Matthat,

son of Levi,

son of Simeon,

son of Judah,

son of Joseph,

son of Jonam,

son of Eliakim,

son of Melea,

son of Menna,

son of Mattatha,

son of Nathan,

son of David,

son of Jesse,

son of Obed,

son of Boaz,

son of Salmon,

son of Nahshon,

son of Amminadab,

son of Admin,

son of Arni,

son of Hezron,

son of Perez,

son of Judah,

son of Jacob,

son of Isaac,

son of Abraham,

son of Terah,

son of Nahor,

son of Serug,

son of Reu,

son of Peleg,

son of Eber,

son of Shelah,

son of Kenan,

son of Arphaxad,

son of Shem,

son of Noah,

son of Lamech,

son of Methuselah,

son of Enoch,

son of Jared,

son of Mahalaleel,

son of Kenan,

son of Enos,

son of Seth,

son of Adam,

son of God.

Tested by the Devil

1-2 Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

5-7 For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

9-11 For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

12 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”

13 That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

To Set the Burdened Free

14-15 Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.

16-21 He came to Nazareth where he had been raised. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me;
    he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
    recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
    to announce, “This is God’s time to shine!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

22 All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was just a kid?”

23-27 He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”

28-30 That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.

31-32 He went down to Capernaum, a village in Galilee. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath. They were surprised and impressed—his teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to.

33-34 In the meeting place that day there was a man demonically disturbed. He screamed, “Stop! What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you’re up to. You’re the Holy One of God and you’ve come to destroy us!”

35 Jesus shut him up: “Quiet! Get out of him!” The demonic spirit threw the man down in front of them all and left. The demon didn’t hurt him.

36-37 That knocked the wind out of everyone and got them whispering and wondering, “What’s going on here? Someone whose words make things happen? Someone who orders demonic spirits to get out and they go?” Jesus was the talk of the town.

He Healed Them All

38-39 He left the meeting place and went to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. He stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them.

40-41 When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to him. One by one he placed his hands on them and healed them. Demons left in droves, screaming, “Son of God! You’re the Son of God!” But he shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah.

42-44 He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking and, when they found him, clung to him so he couldn’t go on. He told them, “Don’t you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God’s kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?” Meanwhile he continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.

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