My own comments and other words not in the Greek Bible text are in black
(This is no paraphrase; it is a word for word rendition from a Greek Interlinear.)







In the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar's government, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. John came into the entire neighborhood of the Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He came in accordance to the words of the prophet Isaiah's book:

"The voice of him who cries in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight His paths. Every valley will be filled up and every mountain and hill will be laid low; the slopes will be leveled, and the rough places will become smooth ways.' And all flesh will see the salvation of God."

Now John's clothing was of camel's hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Jerusalem, all Judea, and the entire neighborhood of the Jordan went out to him. They were baptized by him while confessing their sins. But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the baptism, he said to them, "Offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce, therefore, fruit worthy of repentance. And do not say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," for I tell you that God is able to raise children for Abraham out of these stones. The ax is already laid at the root of the trees, by which every tree not bearing good fruit is cut down and tossed into the fire.

"What, then, can we do?" they asked him.

"Let the one having two jackets give to the one having none, and let the one who has food do likewise."

And the tax collectors who had come to be baptized asked him, "Teacher, what can we do?"

"Do nothing above that which has been commanded of you," for the tax collectors were in the position to collect more tax than what was required, and to keep the excess for themselves.

And the men who served in the army also asked him, "What more can we do?"

"Don't intimidate or falsely accuse the public, and be satisfied with your pay."

Now, according to the word of God in the 5th century BC., through the prophet Malachi, someone in the future was to appear in Israel in the spirit of the prophet Elijah, to prepare the way for Messiah. Not only was John very much like Elijah because he lived in the desert, but also because he expressed great authority. Therefore, religious leaders sent by the chief priests in Jerusalem asked if John was the promised Elijah. But John did not realize he was in fact Elijah, and when the Pharisees asked him if he was that prophet, John replied that he was not. They also asked if he was the promised Messiah, and John said he was not. "Then why do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah?" the Pharisees inquired.

"I indeed baptize you with water for repentance, but the One coming after me is stronger than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to hold. He will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire. His fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn while the chaff he will consume with unquenchable fire."

The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him as he arrived from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John forbade him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and you are coming to me?"

Jesus responded, "Let it be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

John exclaimed: "Look! The Lamb of God who takes the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who has become first, because he was before me.' I did not know him, but I came baptizing in water so that he might be revealed to Israel." So John allowed him to be baptized.

In being baptized, Jesus came up quickly from the water, and, behold, Heaven was opened. He saw the Spirit of God coming down as a dove, and as it came to him, behold, a voice from Heaven said, "This is My son in whom I am well pleased."

Then John testified, saying, "I have seen the Spirit coming down from Heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I did not know who he was, but the One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'Whoever you see the Spirit coming down on and remaining, he will be the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen, and have witnessed that this one is the Son of God."

The next day, John again stood baptizing with two of his disciples, and seeing Jesus walking, he exclaimed, "Look! The Lamb of God!" When the two disciples heard what he had said, they followed Jesus. Turning and seeing them follow, he asked them, "What is it you seek?"

And they said to him, "Rabbi, where are you staying?"

Jesus replied, "Come, and you will see." The disciples went, therefore, at about four in the afternoon, and found out where Jesus was staying.

One of the two was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He found Peter and told him, "We have found the Messiah (i.e. the Christ)."

He led Peter to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas (which is translated, "Peter").

The next day Jesus wanted to set out for Galilee. He found Philip and told him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from the town of Bethsaida in Galilee, the same city that Andrew and Peter were from.

Then Philip went looking for Nathanael, and when he found him he told him, "We have found the one whom Moses and the Prophets wrote about: Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth."

"Can anything good come out of Nazareth," Nathanael shot back.

But Philip persisted: "Come and see."

Jesus saw Nathanael coming and concerning him said, "Behold! A true Israelite in whom there is no guile."

Nathanael, lacking modesty, replied, "From where do you know me?"

Jesus, giving him a thing or two to think about while putting him in his place, said, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."

Shocked and humbled all at once, Nathanael responded, "Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel."

Jesus answered, "Because I told you I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe me? You will see things greater than these. Truly, truly, I tell you, you will see Heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man."

On the third day after the baptism, a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding. Lacking wine, the mother of Jesus complains, "There is no more wine," thus imploring him to perform a miracle.

But Jesus, wanting nothing to do with excessive drunkenness, replied strongly, "What is that to me and to you, woman? Besides, my time has not yet come."

But his mother took command of Jesus and completely disregarded what he said. She motioned to the servers and insisted, "Do whatever he tells you."

Jesus, in order to fulfill the commandment, 'Honor your father and your mother,' obeyed. He did not do so grudgingly and so create a poor wine, but he satisfied his mother by making it most pleasing. He said to the servants, "Fill the water pots with water." And when they had filled them to the brim, he instructed, "Draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." The servants took it.

But when the master tasted the water which had become wine, not knowing from where it had come from, he called the bridegroom and master of the feast, and exclaimed, "Every man first sets out the good wine, and only after everyone has become drunk does he put out the worst; but you have kept the best wine until now!"

This was the first miracle Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee, thus manifesting his glory so that his disciples put their faith in him. Then he and his mother, brothers, and disciples went down to Capernaum, where they remained not many days. It was late winter, and as the Passover of the Jews drew near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found people in the Temple selling oxen, sheep and doves, with dealers in coin sitting there, all hoping to make a small fortune on the upcoming Passover sacrifices. Having made a lash out of ropes, he expelled everyone from the Temple, including the sheep and oxen. He poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables, and to the ones selling doves he fumed, "Take these out of here! Do not make the house of my Father a house of merchandise!" His disciples remembered that it had been written, "Zeal for Your house will consume Me."

Shocked and angry, the Jews responded by saying, "What sign will you show us for the things you are now doing?"

Jesus, always concentrating on his Heavenly mission, responded, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it."

But the Jews began to mock, "It has taken 46 years to build this Temple, and you in three days will raise it?" His disciples were as perplexed as the Jews, but later they came to understand that the "Temple" he was referring to was his crucified body.

At the Passover feast, during March/April, many believed in his name because of the signs he was doing, but Jesus did not commit himself to them because he knew men. He had no need for anyone to testify for man, for he knew what was in a man. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, by the name of Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said, "Rabbi, we all know you are a teacher sent by God, because no one could perform the signs you are doing unless God were with him."

Jesus, recognizing that Nicodemus had zeal, and that he was a true chosen one, wanted to initiate him into the deeper teachings: "Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

While not understanding a single word, Nicodemus asks, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter the womb of his mother a second time to be reborn?"

"Truly, truly, I tell you, unless anyone is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Whatever is born of flesh is flesh, but whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel just because I told you it is necessary to be born from above."

Very unlike the other Pharisees, Nicodemus seeks the truth: "How can this thing come about?"

Wanting to make this teaching fundamental, Jesus replied, "You are a teacher of Israel and yet you don't know these things?" And speaking to the man who would one day remove his crucified body from the cross, Jesus briefed him on his high Messianic mission with the intention that the words would echo in his ears and later bring understanding: "No man has gone up into Heaven except the one who has come down out of Heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent on a stake in the desert, so it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up on a cross, so that everyone entrusting themselves to him may have eternal life."

Nicodemus remained confused for the moment, yet glued to this man claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, written about so often in the scriptures which he had read. Jesus continued:

"For this is how God loved the world, so as to give his only begotten Son, that everyone entrusting themselves to him may not perish, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. The one committed to him is not judged; the one not entrusting has already been judged, because he has not trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

And because Nicodemus came at night to avoid detection, Jesus remarked, "Everyone doing evil hates the light and does not come into the light, lest his deeds are reproved. But the one living by the truth comes into the light so that it may be made apparent that his deeds are rooted in God."

After these things (i.e. after the Passover festivities), Jesus came with his disciples to the Judean countryside, where he continued with them and baptized. And John was also baptizing in Ainon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People came and were baptized because John had not yet been imprisoned.

John's disciples had been questioning a Jew concerning purification, and in this protective spirit, they came to John and informed him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, of whom you had borne witness--behold, this man is baptizing and all the men are going over to him."

John didn't allow jealousy to take root, but instead passed the test: "A man cannot receive anything unless it is given to him out of Heaven. You yourselves heard me say, 'I am not the Christ.' The one who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, while standing and hearing him, rejoices because of his voice. Therefore, this, my joy, has been fulfilled." And knowing that his own mission was done, he confessed, "He must become greater, but I must become less. The One coming from above is over all; the one being of the earth is of the earth and so speaks earthly. The One coming from Heaven is over all; what He has seen and heard, this He testifies, though men do not receive this testimony. The one who receives his testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom is sent by God speaks the words of God, and he receives not merely a fraction of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son, and all things are placed into his hand. The one committed to the Son has eternal life. But the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." And with these words, John directs his own disciples to put their devotion in Jesus.

Here, in Ainon, the Lord slips away from the disciples and leaves them alone in the task of baptizing the people. This is why the apostle John writes: "Jesus himself was not baptizing, but rather it was his disciples." The reason the disciples baptized alone was because Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, departed from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days, and when they were ended, he hungered.

And the devil spoke to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread."

Recognizing that this was the spirit of Satan, Jesus gave this answer to torment him: "It has been written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word proceeding from the mouth of God.'"

And leading him up to an exceedingly high mountain, he showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in a moment of time. And the devil spoke to him, "To you I will give all the authority and glory over them, because to me it has been delivered, and I may give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if you worship me, it will be all yours."

Jesus infuriated his spiritual counterpart by saying, "It has been written, 'Thou shalt worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

But he led him to Jerusalem, and while upon an edge of the Temple site, he said, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down there, for it has been written, 'His angels will take command concerning you, to preserve you, and on their hands they will bear you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

"It has been said," Jesus replied, "'You shall not tempt the Lord your God."

And having finished every temptation, the devil retreated for a time.

During the 40 days, Herod sent men to seize John, tying him up in prison for the sake of Herodias, the wife of Herod's brother, Philip, whom Herod had married. John had said to Herod, "It is unlawful for you to have the wife of your brother. Therefore Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not do so because Herod, who also wanted to kill him, feared the crowd because they held him to be a prophet. And knowing he was a just and holy man, he kept John safe in prison. Good thing he did not think worse of John! Even though hearing John speak confused him very much, yet Herod gladly heard him, for he loved to be entertained.

When the Lord discovered that the jealous Pharisees knew how he was making and baptizing more disciples than John--though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but only his disciples--he left Judea and retreated back to Galilee. The Pharisees had already marked John out for persecution, so that being greater than John was inviting one's death.

Tired and weak from the 40-day fast, Jesus sent the disciples into the Samaritan town of Sychar to buy food while he sat alone nearby at Jacob's well to rest. It was about high noon in early summer, near the feast of Pentecost, and along comes a Samaritan woman to draw water and to make things more difficult for him. "Give me a drink," he implores her as she draws out her own water.

"How is it," she retorted unmercifully, "that you, a Jew, ask me, a woman from Samaria, for a drink?"

"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is asking you for a drink, you would rather have asked him for a drink and he would have given you living water."

Not convinced that this wanderer, as he now appeared to be, was anything of a holy man to speak of, she withheld a drink still longer and taunted him all the more: "Sir, you have no pail, and the well is deep, so where will you get this 'living water'? You aren't' greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well, are you, who drank from it himself along with his sons and cattle?"

"Everyone drinking this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water which I will give will by no means thirst again in this age, but will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life."

"This man must be joking," she must have mused. And with sarcasm now: "Sir, give me this water so I won't thirst or need to keep coming back through here to draw water."

Jesus, having had enough treatment, said, "Go, call your husband and come back."

"I don't have a husband."

"You have spoken right in saying you have no husband, for you have had 5 husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband; yes, you have spoken truthfully."

Gulp! And with a lot more respect this time: "Sir, I see that you are a prophet." And changing the subject while realizing that this man was someone holy after all, she yet continued to spar with the Jew, "Our fathers worshipped on this mountain (Mount Garizim), but you say that the place of worship is only in Jerusalem."

Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem . You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation is of the Jews. But a time is coming, and even now has come, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For, indeed, such worshipers does He seek. God is spirit, and it is required that the ones who worship do so in spirit and in truth."

Having now also heard this Jew refer to God as his Father, she seriously wondered if he might not somehow be connected with the coming of Messiah. "I know that Messiah is coming," she interjects in an effort to find out, "the one called 'Christ'; when he arrives, he will announce all things to us."

Then Jesus spoke the words she so much wanted to hear: "I who speak to you am he."

And during the conversation, the disciples arrived, and they were amazed that Jesus was talking alone with an attractive woman, but none dared to ask, "What do you want with her," or, "Why are you talking to her."

Therefore, the woman left her waterpot behind and went away into the city, where she told the men, "Come see a man who told me everything I did; could this be the Christ?"

Meanwhile, the disciples pressed Jesus to eat, knowing how hungry he was. But Jesus, powerful in the Spirit, and very satisfied by what just happened with the Samaritan woman, said, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

The disciples looked at one another and thought, "Did anyone bring him food?"

"My food is that I may do the will of the One who sent me and that I may finish his work." And in an effort to prepare them for the conversion of many Samaritans in Sychar and, later, others in Galilee, seeing also that the spring harvest of wheat was ripe, he continued, "Look, I'm telling you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, because they are white for the harvest." And emphasizing his own satisfaction, he continued, "Already, the one reaping receives wages and gathers fruit unto eternal life, that the one who sows may rejoice with the one who reaps. For the word is true, that one sows and the another reaps. And in speaking of the ministry of John the Baptist and his disciples, he concluded, "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for, and you have entered in on their task."

When the woman said to the men of the city that she had seen the Messiah, the men went out and came to Jesus. They asked him to remain with them; and Jesus stayed two days. Many more believed because of the word he spoke to them. To the woman they said, "We no longer believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man is truly the Savior of the world."

After the two days, Jesus went into Galilee to preach the good news of the kingdom. When he arrived into Galilee, the Galileans received him because they had seen all the things which he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they had also gone to the feast. But then he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and according to his custom on the sabbath, he entered the synagogue, and stood up to read. A scroll was handed to him of the prophet Isaiah, and having opened the scroll he found the place where it had been written (about the Messiah's ministry):

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; wherefore He anointed me to evangelize the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and sight to the blind, to release the oppressed into freedom, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

And having unrolled the scroll, he returned it to the attendant and sat down, and all the eyes in the synagogue were gazing at him, wondering why he sat down instead of expounding on what he had just read. And he began to say to them, 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your ears,' which represented his frank announcement that he was the Messiah of that text. Because he was raised in Nazareth, the people in the synagogue knew his father and mother and his brothers and sisters. Therefore, those who thought he was beside himself for announcing his Messiahship did not at first want to hurt his feelings. Instead, they put up a good act, marvelling at the words of grace which proceeded from his mouth. And they asked, 'This man is of Joseph? O me, O my, what a darling.'"

But Jesus saw through them, and he let them know at once: "To be sure, you will recite this parable to me, 'Physician, heal thyself. Whatever things we heard happening in Capernaum, do also here in your hometown! Truly, I tell you, that no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. Truthfully, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel when the skies were shut for three years and six months, when a great famine over all the land came, but Elijah was not sent to any one of them except to a widow in Sarepta of Sidon outside of Israel. And there were many lepers in Israel during Elisha the prophet, and not one of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian."

And all in the synagogue were filled with anger upon hearing these things, Joseph's son or not. And rising up, they threw him out of the city, forcing him to the edge of a hill on which the city was built, so as to throw him down. But escaping through their midst, he went on his way.

He arrived again to Cana of Galilee, where he had made the water into wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son lay ill in Capernaum. Having heard that Jesus had returned from Judea into Galilee, this man went to him to ask if he would come down and cure his son. For he was about to die. Therefore, because he knew that this man was lacking proper faith up until this time, Jesus said to him, "Unless you see miracles and wonders, you will by no means commit."

The nobleman begged, "Sir, come down before my child dies."

"Go, your son lives."

The man believed Jesus at his word, and left. And as he was going down to Capernaum, his servants met him and announced his boy is alive. So he inquired as to the time that he got better. "Yesterday, at one in the afternoon," they said to him, "the fever left him." The father knew then, therefore, that it was exactly at the time Jesus said, "Your son lives." And he with his entire household committed themselves to Jesus. This was the second miracle that Jesus performed having come from Judea into Galilee.

Jesus went to Capernaum and lived there, which was by the sea in the districts of Zebulon and Naphthali, fulfilling what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

"Land of Zebulon and land of Naphthali, by way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people sitting in darkness have seen a great light, and for those sitting in the land and shadow of death, light has sprung up for them."

From then on, Jesus began to proclaim and to teach, "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near."

Now it came to pass in these summer days that Jesus went forth to a mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer to God. When the night turned to day, he called his disciples to himself, and chose twelve from among them, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom also he named Peter; Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James, son of Alphaeus, and Simon called "Zealot"; Judas of James and Judas Iscariot, who became a betrayer. Coming down with them, he stood on a level place, and he opened his mouth to teach them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth; blessed are those hungering and thirsting after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied; blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy; blessed are the clean in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called 'sons of God'; blessed are those who have persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men reproach you and persecute you and for my sake say all evil against you with lies. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in Heaven, for that is the way they persecuted the prophets before you.

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have your consolation. Woe to you who are filled up now, because you will hunger. Woe to those who laugh now, for you will mourn and lament. Woe when men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt (i.e. you) is tainted, by what shall it be salted again, for it would be no longer strong for anything but to be thrown out and trampled down by men. You are the light of the world. A city set atop a mountain can not be hidden; nor is a lamp lit and placed under a bushel, but on the lampstand, so that it lights up all those in the house. Thus, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. There is nothing hidden which will not become revealed, nor a secret which will not become known and manifest.

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law and the Prophets; I came not to destroy, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until the heavens and the earth pass away, not one "i" or one period shall pass away from the Law, until all things come to pass. Therefore, whoever breaks the least of one of these commandments and so teaches men, that one shall be called least in the kingdom of Heaven; whoever performs and so teaches will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you, that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, by no means will you enter into the kingdom of Heaven." By this Jesus was saying that being born again is not the only requirement for entering Heaven, but that obedience to God's commands is also necessary. But to show that no man can enter Heaven on the basis of their own righteousness alone he said:

"You heard that it was commanded to the ancients, 'You shall not kill,' and 'whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be liable to the council; whoever says, 'Fool!' shall be liable to the hell fire. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to your brother, and then you can come to offer your gift. Be well disposed to your opponent, and quickly, while you are with him on the way, lest your opponent deliver you to the judge and the judge to the court attendant, and into prison you be thrown. Truly, I tell you, by no means shall you come out from that place until you repay the last coin. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that everyone who views a woman with a lusty look has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and toss it, for it is expedient for you that one of your parts perish and not your whole body be thrown into the prison of hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and toss it from yourself, for it is expedient for you that one of your parts perish and not your whole body go away into hell."

And with such strong words Jesus taught us that we are all hopelessly lost to hell apart from his forgiveness, for which reason we should dispose (commit) ourselves to him in an effort to reconcile things, by begging for forgiveness while still on the way to the Judge(ment). And lest anyone think and teach that the Law no longer applies now because of the New Covenant of forgiveness, Jesus reinforced the Law instead. Indeed, in light of the gifts of forgiveness and the indwelling Holy Spirit, he made things more stringent for us, by saying:

"And it was said, 'Whoever dismisses his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce.' But I tell you that everyone dismissing his wife, apart from a matter of fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a dismissed woman commits adultery.

"Again, you heard that it was said to the ancients, 'You must not perjure, but you must pay to the Lord your oaths.' But I tell you not to swear at all; neither by Heaven, because it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, because it is the footstool for His feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the great city of the King; nor swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your promise-word be 'Yes, yes,' or 'No, no.' For anything in excess of these is evil.

"You heard that it was said, 'An eye in place of an eye, and a tooth in place of a tooth.' But I tell you not to oppose evil; whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other cheek. And to one who wants to sue you to take your vest, allow him also to take your jacket. Whoever shall compel you to go one mile, go with him two. To the one who asks of you, give, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

"You heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and you shall hate your enemy.' But I tell you, bless the ones cursing you. Love your enemies, and pray for the ones persecuting you, so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven, for He makes His sun rise upon evil men and good, and pours rain on just men and unjust. If you love the ones loving you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what abundance do you do? Be, therefore, perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

"You take heed not to do your righteous deeds in front of men with a view to be seen by them; otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven. Therefore, when you perform charity, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men; truly, I tell you, they have their reward. When you perform charity, let not even your left hand know what your right hand does, so that your charity may be done in secret; your Father will see what is done in secret and will pay you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray in the synagogues and while standing on the corners of the open streets; truly, I tell you, they have their reward. When you pray, enter into your private room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will pay you. But in praying, do not utter empty words as the Gentiles do, for they think that in their many words they will be heard. Therefore, do not be like them; God the Father knows what things you are in need of before you ask Him. Therefore, you pray like this:

"Our Father, the One in Heaven; let your Name be hallowed; let your kingdom come; let your will come about, as in Heaven, so also on the earth; give us our daily bread today; and forgive us our debts, as indeed we forgave our debtors; do not bring us into temptation, but rescue us from evil.'

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

When you fast, be not gloomy as the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so that their fasting may be apparent to men. Truly, I tell you, they have their reward. When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but, rather, to your Father, in secret. Your Father, the one seeing in secret, will pay you.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust eliminate, and where thieves dig through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust eliminates, and where thieves do not dig through or steal. For where your treasure will be, there also will be your heart. The lamp of the body is the eye. If, therefore, your eye is single (i.e. not on both the earth and Heaven), your entire body will shine, but if your eye is evil, your entire body will be dark. If, therefore, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness? No one can serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and the other he will despise. You cannot serve both God and wealth.

Therefore, I say to you, be not anxious for your life, for what you may eat or what you may drink, nor with your body for what you may put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, but your Heavenly Father feeds them; do you not excel in importance beyond them? Who of you, being anxious, can add one cubit to his stature? And why be anxious concerning clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not labor nor spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed as one of these. If the grass of the field, which God clothes like this, exists today and yet is thrown into an oven tomorrow, will He not much more clothe you, ye of little faith? Therefore, be not anxious, saying, 'What may we eat?' or "What may we drink?' or "What may we put on?' For the nations seek after all these things, while your Father knows that you need all of them. But you seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and these things will all be added to you. Therefore, be not anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious of itself; sufficient is the evil for the one day.

While through the great difficulties of obeying the Law we are all condemned to hell, yet Jesus reveals the key to avoiding condemnation: "Do not judge, lest you be judged. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you; they will give into your lap a good measure pressed down, shaken, and running over. With whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; with what measure you measure, it will be measured to you.

So, why do you see the chip in the eye of your brother while you do not consider the beam in your own eye? Or, how will you say to your brother, 'Allow me to pluck that chip out of your eye' while, behold, there is a beam in your own eye? Hypocrite, first pluck out the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to pluck the chip out of your brother's eye.

However, just because we should not judge anyone does not mean that we should be intimate with all people, or entrust our lives to our enemies, for Jesus said, "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; neither cast your pearls before the pigs, lest they will trample them with their feet and, backbiting, they may wound you.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one knocking it shall be opened. Or, take any man, if his son will ask for a loaf of bread, he will not give him a stone, will he? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a serpent, will he? If, therefore, you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to the ones asking Him?

"In all things, therefore, in as many whatsoever you wish men to do for you, thus also you do for them; for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter Heaven through the narrow gate (i.e. commitment and obedience to Jesus), because wide is the gate, and broad the way, leading to destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; because strait is the gate, and made narrow the way leading to life, and few are the ones finding it.

For those believers who use their leadership positions to make money from the flock, Jesus says: "Beware and stay away from the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but are greedy wolves on the inside. From their fruits you will know them. People do not gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles. So also, every good tree produces good fruit, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit. Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and tossed into the fire. So, then, by their fruits you will know them."

For those believers involved in cults/denominations working a "Christian" agenda that is not God's agenda, he said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in Heaven." And in reflecting the modern charismatic movement, he said, "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name expel demons, and in your name perform many great miracles?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me all you who work lawlessness (i.e. ignore God's doctrines).'"

For others who think "faith alone" is all that is necessary for salvation, he said: "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be likened to a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, and the rivers flowed while the winds blew and came down against that house, but it did not fall, for it had been founded on the (R)ock. But everyone who hears my words and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, and the rivers flowed while the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was its fall."

And it came to pass that when Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were astounded at his teaching. As he came down the mountain, many throngs followed. And behold, a leper approached him and worshipped him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you are able to cleanse me."

And stretching out his hand he touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy departed, and he was cleansed. Sternly admonishing him, he was sent away: "See to it that you tell no one anything, but go show yourself to the priest and offer what Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." But as he went forth, he began to proclaim many things and to spread the matter about so that Jesus was no longer able to enter a city openly. So he stayed in wilderness places; but people came out to him from all directions.

Jesus went through the cornfields on the sabbath. As his disciples were hungry, they picked some ears and ate them. When the Pharisees saw them, they blasted Jesus: "Behold! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the sabbath."

"Did you never read what David did," he explained, "when he and those with him hungered--how he entered into the House of God and ate the set-apart loaves of bread which was not lawful for him or for those with him to eat, but were for the priests only? Or, have you never read in the Law that the priests in the Temple profane the sabbath as they go about their required duties, and yet are guiltless? I tell you that a greater Thing is here than the Temple. But if you had understood what this is: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." The bottom line is: "The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath," so if he says its permissible, then its permissible.

And removing himself from that spot, Jesus went into their synagogue and, behold, a man whose hand was withered. So, maintaining their case against him, they questioned Jesus in order to vilify him, asking if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath. As the great feast of the Jews was just ended, wherein many Jews had brought their animals to the Temple from far away lands, animals which, during their trip, would often need extensive tending on a sabbath, Jesus' answer resounded: "What man from among you who had one sheep, if it fell into a ditch on a sabbath, would not lay hold of it and raise it? By how much, then, does a man surpass in importance a sheep? So, then, it is lawful to do good on the sabbath."

Jesus was not at all concerned about saving face for any of his intimidators and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." All eyes in the place were fixed. He stretched forth, and the arm was restored, becoming as healthy as the other. Then those who promoted themselves as holy men were struck in the heart. Going out, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus in an effort to destroy him.

Realizing, Jesus left that place. Many followed, and he healed them all, though he warned them that they should not popularize him, for Jesus did not come to gain personal fame or glory at this first advent, but to glorify and vindicate God. Therefore, he kept his activities low-key and concentrated on the bruised peoples, away from the nation's center, from its markets, its rich, and its rulers, that the thing spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

"Behold, the servant whom I elect, My loved one with whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit on him, and he will announce justice to the nations. He will not quarrel nor shout, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A reed which has been bruised he will not break, and a smoking wick he will not quench, until he puts forth justice in victory. And in his Name, the nations will hope."

Then a demon-possessed man was brought to him, blind and mute. Jesus healed him so that he spoke and saw. Astonished, the crowds asked, "Is this not 'the Son of David'," a title referring to the Messiah. But when the Pharisees who came down from Jerusalem heard this, they said, "This man does not expel demons except by Beelzebub, prince of demons!"

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus replied to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. So if Satan expels Satan, he is divided against himself; how, then, will his kingdom stand? And if I expel the demons by Beelzebub, then by what do your sons expel them? Therefore, your sons will be your judges. But if by the Spirit of God I expel the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you! Or, no one can enter into the house of a strong man to seize his vessels unless he first ties up the strong man; then he will plunder his house. The one not being with me is against me, and the one not gathering with me scatters."

Because the Pharisees had mistaken the Holy Spirit within Jesus for Satan, he said, "Therefore, I tell you, that all sins and blasphemies will be forgiven men, but blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the coming one.

"Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for by the fruit, the tree is known. Sons of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man out of the good treasure in it will put forth good fruit, and the evil man out of its evil will put forth evil things. But I tell you that men will give an account of every idle word they speak on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, or by your words you will be condemned."

"Teacher, we wish to see a miraculous sign from you," some of the audacious scribes and Pharisees asked.

"An evil and adulterous kind seeks a miraculous sign, but a sign shall not be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so also will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Ninevite men will stand up at the Judgment with this generation and will condemn it because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and, behold, a greater Thing than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will be raised in the Judgment with this breed and will condemn it because she came from the reaches of the world to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and, behold, a greater Thing than Solomon is here."

Pitting himself in this way against the rulers of Israel, many became concerned for his life. When his family heard all this, they went to take charge of him, saying, "He must be beside himself."

As they entered Capernaum, he immediately, upon the sabbath, entered the synagogue and began to teach. And the people were astounded at his teaching; he taught as one having authority, unlike the scribes. Suddenly, a man with an unclean spirit cried out in the synagogue: "What is there between us and you, Jesus the Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you...who you are--the holy one of God!"

Jesus rebuked him: "Be quiet, and come out of him." And throwing the man down, the unclean spirit came out with loud screaming.

And the people were all astounded so that they debated among themselves: "What is this? A new teaching with authority; he commands the unclean spirits...and they obey him." News of this went forth quickly into all the communities of Galilee.

As soon as they left the synagogue they came to the home of Simon and Andrew, with James and John present. Simon's mother-in-law was laying there fever-stricken, so Jesus was immediately notified. Jesus approached her and raised her up by her hand; the fever then left her, and she got up and served them.

When evening arrived and the sun set, people had brought all the sick and demon-possessed to Jesus so that the city had assembled at the door. He healed many ill people with various diseases, and expelled many demons. He did not permit the demons to speak, for they knew him. So was fulfilled that which was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

"He took our weaknesses and bore our diseases."

"Now when the unclean spirit goes out from a man, he goes through dry places seeking rest, but does not find it. Then he says, 'I will return into the house from which I came out.' Upon arriving, he finds it standing empty, swept and furnished. Then he goes and takes seven other spirits with himself, more evil than he, and then enters to dwell there. So the final condition of that man becomes worse than the previous. This is how it will also be for this evil generation."

As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and shouted to him, "Blessed is the womb which bore you and the breasts which you sucked."

"Nay! Blessed rather are the ones hearing the word of God and keeping it."

Jesus' mother and brothers came to him, and standing outside they sent someone to call him. And the crowd which sat around him said, "Look, your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you."

But Jesus, true to his own words, placed the work of God above the love of his own family. He asked, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" Looking around at everyone sitting in a circle, he declared, "Behold! my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." The Twelve were with him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called "Magdalene," from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, steward of Herod; Susanna and many others who ministered to them out of their possessions.

And very early, while it was still dark, Jesus rose from bed and went into a deserted place, and there he prayed. But Simon and the ones with him hunted him down, and when they found him, they excused their intrusion by saying, "Everyone is looking for you."

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea, and a crowd pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God. He was standing at that time by the Lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee). He saw that there were two boats by the lake, but that the fishermen had gone off and were washing their nets. And climbing into one of the boats, that of Simon, he asked him to put out a little from shore. Sitting in the boat, he taught the crowd many things in parables, saying:

Behold, there went out the sower to sow. And while he sowed, some seeds indeed fell beside the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Others fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly because of the soil's lack of depth. But it was scorched as soon as the sun rose, and it dried up on account of it not having root. Others fell on the thorns, but the thorns came up and choked them. And others fell on the good soil and gave fruit; the one a hundred, the other sixty, the other thirty. When he said this, he called out: The one having ears, let him hear!"

He set before them another parable: "The kingdom of Heaven is likened to a man sowing good seed in his field. But in his sleep, men who were his enemies came and over-sowed weeds in-between the wheat, and then went away. When the grass sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds also appeared. So the servants of the homeowner said to him, 'Lord, did you not sow good seed in your field? From where, then, have the weeds come from?'

"'An enemy did this,' the homeowner said.

"So the servants said to him, 'Do you want us to go away and collect them?'

"'No, lest while you are collecting the weeds you should uproot the wheat together with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, "Collect first the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

He set another parable before them, saying: "The kingdom of Heaven is likened to a grain of mustard, which a man took and sowed in his field. Although it is indeed the smallest of all seeds, when it grows, it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches."

He spoke another parable to them: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a meal of three measures, until the whole was leavened."

These things were spoken to the crowds by Jesus, and he spoke nothing without a parable, so that was fulfilled the thing spoken through the prophet:

'I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which were hidden from the foundations of the world.'

The disciples approached him and asked, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"

"Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to those others it has not been given. Therefore, consider carefully how you listen, for whoever has, it will yet be given to him so that he will have an abundance; he who has not, even what he has will be taken from him. Therefore, I speak to them in parables, because while they see they might not see, and while they hear they may not hear nor understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

'In hearing you will hear but by no means understand, and seeing you will see but by no means perceive. For this people's hearts have waxed gross, and they hear heavily with their ears, and their eyes are closed, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and with their hearts understand, and they then turn back and I would heal them.'

"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see and did not see, and to hear the things which you hear and did not hear. You, therefore, hear the parable of the sower. To everyone hearing the word of the kingdom but not wanting understanding, the evil one comes and seizes the thing sown in his heart; this is the seed sown by the path. As for the seed sown on rocky places, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, but he has no root in himself and is short-lived. When tribulation or persecution occurs on account of the word, he is suddenly offended. As for the seed sown in the thorns, this is the one hearing the word, but the anxiety of the age and the deceit of riches chokes the word, so that it becomes unfruitful. As for the seed sown on good soil, these are those who with a good and worthy heart hear and understand the word, holding fast and bearing fruit with patience, where indeed one produces a hundred, the other sixty, the other thirty."

Then, sending the crowds away, he came into the house. The disciples approached him and requested, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."

And Jesus replied, "The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world. The good seed are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one; the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the weeds are collected and consumed with fire, thus it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom everything leading to sin and the ones performing lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one having ears, let him hear.

"The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field which a man hid upon finding, who in his joy goes and sells what things he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, and finding one valuable pearl, he went away and sold all that he had and bought it. Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a net cast into the sea which catches every kind of fish; when filled and brought to shore, the good are collected into jars, but the bad are tossed out. Thus it will be at the end of the age; the angels will go forth and separate the evil men from the midst of the righteous, and they will toss them into the furnace of fire; there will be wailing and the gnashing of teeth. Did you understand all these things?"

"Yes," they answered.

"Therefore, every scribe made into a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is a man like a homeowner, who puts forth new and old things from his treasure."

When he was done speaking, as he was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he said to Simon, called "Peter," and Andrew his brother: "Put out into deep water, and let your nets down for a draught."

Peter was in no mood to fish again, nor to use his clean nets in vain, but managed to answer respectfully enough: "Master, through the whole night's labor we took nothing in, but at your word I will let down the nets." And doing so, they caught a great number of fish so that the nets were being torn. And they motioned for help to their partners, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, as they were out in a boat with their father Zebedee mending their nets. They came, and both boats were filled so high that they were near sinking.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus, saying, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For he and all the ones with him were seized with astonishment at the catch of fish which they had taken.

"Don't fear," Jesus said to Simon, introducing them to their new ministry by an act of power, "from now on you will be catching live men." And bringing the boats to land, they left all things and followed him.

Against the will of the crowds, which tried to detain him because they did not want him to leave them, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go elsewhere into the neighboring towns so that I can proclaim there as well, since that is the purpose for which I have come forth." When evening had come on that day, seeing the crowd around him, Jesus gave the command to go away, to the other side of the lake.

"Teacher, I will follow you too wherever you may go," one scribe said as he approached.

"The foxes have holes and the birds of the sky have nests," Jesus warned, "but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."

Another disciple fretted and said: "Lord, allow me to first go away to bury my father."

"You follow me! And leave the dead to bury their own dead. No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks behind him is fit for the kingdom of God."

Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus by boat, just as he was, with other boats alongside. But then a storm with fierce winds came up, and the waves struck the boat, and flooded it. Jesus was in the stern asleep on a pillow, and they came to rouse him: "Teacher! Doesn't it matter to you that we are about to die?"

But Jesus woke up and rebuked the winds and spoke to the sea: "Be quiet; be muzzled." The winds then died down, and there was a great calm. And he asked them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it you have no faith?"

And they were afraid with great fear while saying to one another: "Who, then, is this man, that both the wind and the sea obeys him?"

Arriving to the other side into the country of the Gerasenes, two demon-possessed men came out of the tombs to meet him. They were exceedingly dangerous, so that no one was able to pass through that way. For a considerable time, one had not put on clothing, nor did he live in a house, but lived among the tombs. No one was able to bind him any longer, even with a chain. Though he had often been bound with fetters and chains, thus being guarded, no one was able to subdue him, for he would burst open the chains and break the fetters, to be driven by the demon into the desert. He continually cried out, by night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, cutting himself with stones. And seeing Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped him. Jesus demanded him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!"

Crying out with a great voice, he said, "What is there between me and you, Jesus, Son of God Most High? Have you come here to torture us before the time? I adjure you by God, you may not torment me."

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"My name is Legion, because we are many." And he begged Jesus that he would not send them out of the country, into the abyss. Now, there was a herd of pigs feeding near the mountain, and they begged him: "Send us into the pigs, that we may enter into them." And Jesus permitted them. But as the unclean spirits entered the pigs, the herd of two thousand rushed down a precipice into the sea, and drowned.

Those who fed the pigs fled and reported this in the city and in the fields, and many came to see what thing had happened. They came to Jesus, and saw the demon-possessed man sitting at his feet, clothed, and in his right mind, and they were afraid. The witnesses explained to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. So, the multitude in the neighborhood of the Gerasenes began to beseech Jesus to depart from their territory, because they were seized with great fear, and because they cared more for the money the pigs could bring than they did for the works of God.

While Jesus was boarding the boat, the one who had been demon-possessed asked if he might go with him, but Jesus did not permit him, but advised him: "Go to your house and to your people and report to them what things the Lord has done to you and how he has pitied you." So he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis what things Jesus did to him, and all men marveled.

Embarking in a boat, Jesus crossed over and came to his own city of Capernaum. They were expecting him, and when it was heard that he was at home, so many assembled that there was no room at the door. And as he spoke to them the word, four men came carrying a paralytic. Since they were not able to bring him in on account of the crowd, they removed the roof where he was situated, and having created an opening they lowered the mat upon which the paralytic was lying. As Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Who's going to pay to fix my roof?"

No, he did not say that. Instead, he said: "Child, your sins are forgiven."

Now, some of the scribes were sitting there, thinking in their hearts: "Why does this man speak like this. He blasphemes. Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Instantly, Jesus knew in his spirit that they were reasoning like this among themselves, so that he countered, "Why do you reason these things in your hearts? What is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise, take your mat and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on the earth, he said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, rise, take your mat, and go to your house.'"

And he arose and immediately took the mat and went forth before everyone, so that all were astonished and glorified God, saying, "This we have never seen."

And after these things Jesus went forth by the sea. Passing along, he saw a tax collector by the name of Levi (Matthew) son of Alphaeus sitting at the custom house. "Follow me," he said to him. Abandoning all things, he rose up and followed Jesus.

And it came to pass as the summer grew on, that he was reclining in Levi's house, and behold, many tax-collectors and sinners came and reclined at the table with Jesus and his disciples. And witnessing this, the Pharisees asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?"

Jesus overheard, and replied, "The strong have no need for a physician, but rather those who are sick. But you go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners."

John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. So they came to inquire of him: "Why do we and the Pharisees fast while your disciples do not?"

"Can the sons of the bridegroom mourn while the bridegroom is with them?" he argued. "So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they can not fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

"Now, no one puts a patch of new cloth on an old garment, for the filler-patch will take (rip) away from the garment, and a worse tear will result. Neither do they put new wine into old wineskins, or the wineskins will burst, the wine will pour out, and the wineskins will be destroyed. Instead, they put new wine into fresh wineskins so that both are preserved."

While he was saying this, one of the synagogue's leaders, whose name was Jairus, arrived, and seeing Jesus he fell at his feet, and begged him: "My daughter is at the point of death; if you come, you might lay your hands on her so that she might be healed and live." So He went with him. The large crowd went along and was pressing in on Jesus. There was one woman who for 12 years had a blood flow, who had suffered a great deal while seeing many doctors and having spent all she had, though she had not benefited at all, but instead had become worse. When she heard the things about Jesus, she made her way through the crowd, to his rear, and touched his garment: "If I could just touch his clothing," she thought, "I will be healed." Suddenly, the issue of blood dried over and she could feel in her body that she was cured of the disease.

Immediately knowing that power had gone forth from him, Jesus asked, "Who touched my clothes?"

The disciples were flying a little high at this time. They turned to their master and quipped, "You see the crowd pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'"

Jesus looked around to see who had done it, and the woman was trembling with fear because she knew what happened to her. She came and fell before him and told him all the truth. "Daughter," he said to her, "your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be healed from your disease."

As he was yet speaking with her, some who knew the synagogue leader came to report: "Your daughter has died. Why trouble the teacher any longer?"

But Jesus overheard the report and assured the synagogue ruler, "Do not fear; only trust."

He would not let anyone accompany him except Peter, James, and his brother, John. As they stepped into the house of the synagogue ruler, he saw an uproar, with flute-players and horrified weeping and wailing. And entering in he asked them, "Why weep and make such commotion? The child has not died, but merely sleeps." And they ridiculed him.

Jesus cleared them all out, but took the father and mother of the child, and the disciples he had brought along, and went in to where the child was. And taking hold of the child's hand, he said to her, "Miss, I say to you, arise." Immediately, the lass rose up and walked (she was 12 years old). They were astonished immediately with great amazement. But he insisted strongly that no one should know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

After the Jewish New-Year festivities in September/October, a servant of a certain Roman centurion was ill and about to die. Hearing about Jesus he sent some elders of the Jews to him to ask if he could come and help his servant recover. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "He for whom you should grant this is worthy; he loves our nation and he built a synagogue for us." So Jesus went with them.

While Jesus was not yet far from his house, the centurion sent friends to say, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; this is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come out to you. But just say with a word, and let my servant be cured. For I too am a man who has been set up in authority, having soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes. To another, I say, 'Come,' and he comes. To my servant, I say, 'Do this,' and he does it."

When Jesus heard these words, he marveled and declared to those following, "Truly, I tell you, I have not found such faith from anyone in Israel. And I tell you that many will come from the east and west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven, but the Jewish sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Upon returning to the house, the ones who were sent found the servant well.

The next day it came to pass that Jesus went into a city called Nain, and his disciples went with him with a large crowd. As he drew near the gate of the city, behold, an only-born son of his mother who had died was being carried out. She was a widow, and a considerable throng from the city was at her side. When the Lord saw her, he felt compassion for her and said, "Do not weep." Approaching the coffin, he touched it while the ones bearing it up stood there. "Young man, I say to you--Arise!" The dead man sat up and started to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Everyone took dread, and they glorified God: "A great prophet has been raised among us, and God has come to visit his people!" Word of this event went forth into all Judea and the surrounding area.

As he went from there, Jesus came to his native town of Nazareth with his disciples following. When a sabbath arrived, he began to teach in the synagogue, and the many who heard him were amazed. "Where does this man get these things? What wisdom has been given to him? How do the powerful deeds done by his hand come about?" But some began to jeer openly as they had from the beginning: "Isn't this man the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon? And are his sisters not here with us? And because of jealousy they were offended by him.

Jesus said to them again, "A prophet is unhonored only in his native place, among his relatives, and in his own house." And he could not do any powerful deeds there, except the healing of a few sick ones upon whom he laid hands. And Jesus wondered because of their lack of faith.

Teaching around the villages in a circuit, he said to his disciples, "The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the workmen are few; pray, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest so that He may thrust forth workmen into His harvest." For Jesus had planted so many seeds that he could not contain all the work. He called his Twelve and began to send them forth two by two, giving them authority over unclean spirits. He charged them, "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and enter not into a city of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim, 'The kingdom of Heaven has drawn near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and expel demons; freely you have received power, freely give.

"Do not provide for yourselves gold nor silver nor brass in your purses; not a wallet for the way, nor two shirts, nor extra sandals, nor a staff. For worthy is the workman for his food. And into whatever city or village you might enter, inquire as to who is worthy within it, and there remain until you go out. As you go into the house, greet it; if the house is indeed worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return unto you. To whomever may not receive you or listen to you, shake the dust from under your feet as you leave that house or city, as a testimony against them. Truly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorra in the Day of Judgment than for that city. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be as prudent as serpents, but as harmless as doves.

"A disciple is not above a teacher, nor a servant above his lord. It is enough for a disciple that he be as his teacher, and the slave as his lord. If they called the homeowner 'Beelzebub,' how much more the members of his household? Therefore, do not fear the people, for there is nothing which is veiled which will not be unveiled, nor hidden which will not be made known. What I say to you in the darkness, tell of it in the light; what you hear in the ear, proclaim on the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body, who are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? Yet, not one of them will fall to the earth without your Father's permission. But concerning you, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore, fear not, for you excel many sparrows in importance.

"Everyone, therefore, who shall confess me before men, I also will confess him before my Father in Heaven; whoever denies me before men, I also will deny him before my Father in Heaven." And speaking only of his first coming, he declared, "Do not suppose that I've arrived to bring peace on the earth; I've come not to bring peace, but a 'sword.' For I came to make a man hostile against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a bride against her mother-in-law. The enemies of a man will be the members of his household." Jesus said this because anyone who would have faith in him would be hated by his own family. He continued: "The one loving father or mother beyond me is not worthy of me; the one loving son or daughter beyond me is not worthy of me. He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Do you know where a person goes when he picks up his cross? To death, of course; in this case, Jesus means spiritual death, or a forsaking of the normal worldly life. He continues: "The one who finds his life will lose it, and the one losing his life for my sake will find it.

"The one receiving you receives me, and the one who receives me receives the One who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive the reward of a prophet, and the one receiving a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. Whoever gives one of these little ones a drink from a cup of cold water just because he is my disciple, truly, I tell you, on no account will he lose his reward."

And it came to pass that when Jesus finished giving instructions to the twelve disciples, he removed from that place to teach and proclaim in its cities. And in their going forth throughout the villages, the apostles proclaimed that men should repent, and they expelled many demons. They anointed many sick people with oil, and healed them.


Serpents in the Judean Vineyard
The southern Judean realm of Israel, the seat of Jerusalem,
becomes a threat to Jesus' life in his second year,
but he remains focused and
handles it in stride.

Pre-Tribulation Preparation For Post-Tribulation Rapture