In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene--
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.
He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God's salvation.'"
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done,
Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,
the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda,
the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,
the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,
the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,
the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone.' "
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
So if you worship me, it will all be yours."
Jesus answered, "It is written: `Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.' "
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here.
For it is written: "`He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
Jesus answered, "It says: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: `Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'"
"I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.
Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian."
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people.
They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice,
"Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
"Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!"
And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.
So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.
Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.
At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.
But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Christian Magazine Deals
Guideposts $20.13 for 24 issueswith coupon "MPSSAVE16"