Christianity According to Christ

A Harmony and Consolidation of the Gospel of Jesus from Old and New Testaments - WordsInRed.com

Ministry

Beginning

When he heard that John had been put in prison, Jesus began his own ministry. He was now about thirty years old.

He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit and went to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And on the Sabbath day, as was his custom, he went into the synagogue. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him and, unrolling it, he found the place - and stood up and read - where it is written: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me! He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor! He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to free the oppressed, and release the blind from darkness! To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor!"

When he had finished saying these things, Jesus 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 said to them: "The time has come. Today, in your hearing, this scripture is fulfilled. Believe and repent, for the kingdom of God is near!"

After this, Jesus left Nazareth with his mother and brothers, and they went down to live in Capernaum; a town by the Sea of Galilee in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled another of Isaiah's prophecies: "In the past, he humbled Zebulun and Naphtali in Galilee, the land of the Gentiles along the Jordan by the way to the Sea. But in the future, he will honor this place. There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. On those walking in darkness, in the land of the shadow of death, a great light shall dawn."

Jesus rarely stayed in Capernaum for more than a few days at a time, but went throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the good news. All those who heard him were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips and the power of his message, for he taught them something entirely new. And he spoke, not as other teachers of the law, but as one who had authority in his own right.

Mt 4:12-17 and 23
7:28-29
11:31-30
Mk 1:14-15
Lk 3:23
4:14, 16-21 and 31

Jn 2:12
Is 9:1-2

61:1-2

Gaining Followers

Everyone spoke well of Jesus, and news of him spread throughout the whole countryside. Large crowds of people began coming to hear him; not only from Galilee, but from Jerusalem and all over Judea; from the coast around Tyre and Sidon and the regions across the Jordan; from Idumea, the Decapolis and all the way from Syria. And when they heard what Jesus taught, many people began to follow him around as he traveled through the countryside.

One day, as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, the people were crowding around him to hear as he spoke to them about the Word of God. He saw two boats at the water's edge, left there by fishermen who were nearby washing their nets in the lake. And among them he saw the same two brothers, Simon and Andrew, that he had met at the river Jordan. Jesus got into the boat belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore so that he could teach the people from the boat.

When he'd finished speaking, Jesus said to Simon: "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught a thing. But, because you tell me to, I'll let down the nets." When they did, they caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they filled both boats so full that they nearly sank.

Simon and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and Simon fell at Jesus' feet, saying: "Don't waste your time with me, Lord. I'm a sinful man!" Jesus said to him, "Don't be afraid. Come and follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men." Simon immediately pulled his boat up on shore, and he and Andrew left everything they owned and set out with Jesus.

When they'd gone a little way down the shore, they came across Simon's partners; two other brothers named James and John, the sons of a man called Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father and his hired men fixing their nets. Jesus called to them and they, too, immediately left everything they had and followed him.

Mt 4:18-22 and 25
8:1
Mk 1:16-20 and 28
3:8
Lk 4:37
5:1-10 and 11
7:17

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a tax collector named Matthew Levi sitting in his collection booth. Once again, Jesus said, "Follow me!" And Matthew got up, left everything and followed.

Then Matthew held a great banquet for Jesus and the other disciples at his house. And he invited many of his fellow tax collectors, and others generally regarded as sinful, to eat with them. Also present were some Pharisees and teachers of the law. (The Pharisees were a Jewish religious sect noted for their zealous, but sometimes hard-hearted, observance of the Mosaic law.) And, when they saw Jesus having dinner with these outcasts, they complained to his disciples: "Why does your teacher eat and drink with these sinners?" Overhearing this, Jesus said to them, "Because it is the sick, not the healthy, who need a doctor. I haven't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

After this, there were many tax collectors and other "sinners" who followed Jesus. There was a wealthy man by the name of Zacchaeus, for example, who was the chief tax collector in Jericho. And once, as Jesus was passing through town, Zacchaeus went out to get a look at him. Being a short man, however, he couldn't see over the crowd. So, seeing the way Jesus was walking, he ran on ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of him.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down from that tree immediately!" So he came down at once and stood before Jesus, who said to him: "I'm staying at your house today." The people who saw this all began to mutter, "He's going off to be the guest of a sinner!" But the Lord said to them, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost sons of Abraham. And this man, too, is one of them."

Zacchaeus welcomed him gladly and said: "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I've cheated anybody out of anything, I'll pay back four times the amount." And Jesus said to the crowd, "Then let's all rejoice, for today salvation has come to this man's house!"

Mt 9:9-13
Mk 2:14-17
Lk 5:27-32

19: 1-10

Another time, some Pharisees and teachers of the law tried to see just how far Jesus would go in pardoning sinful behavior. They brought a woman caught in adultery before him and said, "Teacher, Moses commanded us in the Law to stone women who commit adultery, and we caught this woman in the act! Now, what do you have to say about that?"

Jesus seemed not to have heard them, and he stooped down and began scribbling in the dust with his finger. But when they kept on questioning him, he looked up at them and said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." And, again, he turned his attention to the ground at his feet.

One by one - the older men first - those who heard this began to drift away, until only Jesus and the woman remained there. Jesus stood up and looked around. And then he asked the woman, "Where did everyone go? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I," Jesus declared. "Go now in peace, and leave your life of sin."

And, as time went on, other women whom Jesus cured of diseases and rescued from evil were attracted to his ministry: Mary Magdalene, from whom he exorcized seven demons; Joanna, the wife of the manager of Herod's household, a man named Cuza; Susanna, and many others. These women sometimes traveled with Jesus and his other disciples, and helped to support them out of their own means.

Lk 8:2-3
Jn 8:3-5 and 6b-11

Miraculous Signs

Jesus and a number of his new disciples, recently returned from a trip into Judea, were invited to a wedding in the Galilean town of Cana. Jesus' mother, Mary, was also there. And, while the celebration was still underway, the wine ran out; a great embarassment to the family hosting the wedding. Mary said pointedly to Jesus, "They have no more wine." He replied, "Don't involve me, mother. The time for this sort of thing has not yet come." Mary nevertheless said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone jars of the kind used by the Jews to store water for ceremonial washing; each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water. Then draw some out, and take it to the master of the banquet."

The servants did as Jesus asked. They filled the jars to the brim with water, and took some of it to the master of the banquet. He tasted it, and it had been turned into wine! Athough the servants who had drawn the water knew where it had come from, the master of the banquet did not. He called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink. But you've saved the best until now!"

This was the first of many miracles that Jesus performed. It was by these signs that he revealed his glory, and caused many of his disciples to put their faith in him.

Jn 2:1-11

Jesus performed the second of his miracles when, once again, he was visiting in Cana. There was a certain royal official at Capernaum whose son lay sick and close to death. When this man heard where Jesus had gone, he went to him and begged him to come back to Capernaum and heal his son. "Sir, come down there before my child dies," the royal official pleaded.

Jesus replied, "It looks like you people will never believe unless you see wonders and miraculous signs. Very well. You may go back to Capernaum; your son will live."

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "The fever suddenly left him yesterday at one in the afternoon." The man realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." And so, from that day on, he and all his household believed.

Jn 4: 46-54

Jesus and his disciples returned to Capernaum and, on the Sabbath, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. Now there was a man in the congregation who was possessed by an evil spirit and, just as Jesus finished speaking, he cried out at the top of his voice: "Ha! I know who you are, Jesus of Nazareth! The Holy One of God! What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us?"

"Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" The man shook violently and threw himself to the floor. And then, before the entire assembly, the evil spirit - with a shreik! - came out of the man without injuring him. The people were astounded! "What is this?" they asked each other. "He even gives orders to evil spirits, and they obey him!"

Mk 1:21 and 23-27
Lk 4:33-36

Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, and they went to the home of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying there in bed suffering with a high fever. They told Jesus about her and asked if he could help her. So, as soon as he entered the house, he went to her. Bending over her, he rebuked the fever and it immediately left her! Then Jesus took her hand and helped her up, and she began bustling about, waiting on them.

That evening as the sun was setting, the whole town gathered at the door. The people brought all those who were sick and diseased and many who were demon-possessed to Jesus. And laying his hands on each one, he healed them all. This fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows."

Moreover, he drove the demons out with a word, and many of them came out shouting, "You are the Son of God!" because they knew he was the Christ. But Jesus rebuked them and wouldn't allow them to say anything more. This fulfilled another of Isaiah's prophecies: "Here is my servant whom I uphold; my chosen; the one I love and in whom I delight. He will not shout or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. But I will put my Spirit on him, and the nations will put their hope in his name. He will not break the bent reed or snuff out the guttering lamp. He will not falter or be discouraged until, in faithfulness, he establishes justice on earth."

Very early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place to pray. Simon and the other disciples went to look for him, and when they found him they exclaimed, "Everyone has been trying to find you!"

Just then, the people came to where he was, and they tried to persuade him to stay with them. But Jesus replied, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns also, because that is why I was sent." And he said to his disciples, "Let's be off to the nearby villages so I can preach there as well."

And so Jesus continued to travel through Galilee, preaching the good news in the synagogues. But now he was also driving out demons and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News of this spread quickly throughout the whole countryside. And when they heard what he was doing, people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases - those troubled by evil spirits, those suffering severe pain, those having seizures and the paralyzed - and he healed them. Whenever the demon-possessed saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God!" But Jesus continued to give the evil spirits strict orders not to tell who he was.

Mt 4:23-24
8:14-17
12:16-21
Mk 1:29-39
3: 8;11-12
Lk 4:37-44

7:17
Is 42:1-4
53:4

While Jesus was in one of those towns, a man who was covered with leprosy came to him. And when he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him: "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"

Immediately, the man was cured of his leprosy, and Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: "Go and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, and show yourself to the priests as a testimony to them. But see that you don't talk about this to anyone else." Instead, the man went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news about Jesus all the more.

Mt 8:2-4
9:30-31
Mk 1:40-45
Lk 5:12-14

One day when Jesus had a large crowd around him, he said to his disciples, "Let's cross over to the other side of the lake." Leaving the crowd behind, he and his disciples got into a boat and - with some other boats following - set out. As they sailed, Jesus fell asleep on a cushion in the boat's stern.

Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, and the waves swept over the boat. It was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples were terrified and they went and woke Jesus, crying out, "Master! Master! Save us! We're going to drown!"

Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waters, saying to them, "Quiet! Be still!" The storm immediately subsided! The wind died down, and it was completely calm. Then he said to his disciples, "Why were you afraid? Have you still so little faith?" The men were amazed and asked one another, "What kind of man is this? He commands even the winds and the waves, and they obey him!"

Mt 8:18 and 23-27
Mk 4:35-41
Lk 8:22-25

They sailed on to the region of the Gadarenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped out of the boat, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town nearby. This man was so violent that no one could come near him, and no one was strong enough to subdue him any longer, even with restraints. For he had often been chained hand and foot and kept under guard, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. The demons had seized him many times, and had driven him into solitary places. For a long time now, the man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but among the tombs and in the hills where - night and day - he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus coming at a distance, the man ran from the tombs and fell on his knees in front of him. "What do you want with me Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" he shouted at the top of his voice. "Have you come to torture me before the appointed time? Swear to God that you won't, I beg you!"

Jesus asked the man, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, for many demons had gone into him. And the demons pleaded with Jesus not to send them back into hell. "If you drive us out, allow us to go into the pigs," they begged. For a large herd of pigs - about two thousand in number - was feeding there on the hillside. Jesus said to them, "Come out of this man then, and go!" And so the demons came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd immediately rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned!

When the men tending the pigs saw this, they ran off into the town and countryside and told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. They all rushed out to see these things for themselves and, when they got there, they found the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons - dressed and in his right mind - sitting at Jesus' feet. They were overcome with fear, and pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting back into the boat to leave, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home to his family, saying, "Tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." So the man went away and began to tell in the town and throughout the region of the Gadarenes how much Jesus had done for him, and all the people who heard his story were amazed.

Mt 8:28-34
Mk 5:1-20
Lk 8:26-39

Jesus again crossed over the lake, back to his own town of Capernaum. When he got there he was greeted by a large crowd, for the people were all watching for his return. And in the crowd was a man named Jairus, one of the elders in the synagogue, whose only daughter - a girl of about twelve - was dying. When he saw Jesus he came forward and, kneeling before him, pleaded earnestly with Jesus to come to his house. "Please, Lord!" he said. "My little girl is dying, but if you will come and put your hands on her, she will be healed and live." So Jesus - along with Simon, James and John - got up and went with him. And, as they went on their way, the people all followed, and were pushing forward to touch Jesus because he had healed so many of the sick and those with diseases at a single touch. The large crowd pressed around him and almost crushed him.

Now there was a woman there who had been subject to bleeding for many years. She'd spent all she had on doctors, and had suffered a great deal under their care. But none of them could heal her, and instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she too thought to herself: "If I can just touch his clothes, I'll be healed!" And so the woman came up behind Jesus in the crowd and touched the edge of his cloak. At once, her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed and freed at last from her suffering.

Jesus immediately realized that healing power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched me?" They all denied it and Simon said, "Master, can't you see all the people crowding and pressing against you! How can you ask, 'Who touched me'?" But Jesus repeated, "Someone touched me," and kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling with fear and fell at his feet. And, in the presence of all the people, she told him the whole truth: why she had touched him, and how she had been instantly healed. Then Jesus said to her, "Don't be afraid, daughter: be freed from your suffering and go in peace. Your faith has healed you."

While Jesus was saying this, some men came from Jairus' house. "Don't bother the teacher any more," they said. "Your daughter is dead." Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid. Just believe, and she will be healed." When they got to the house, however, they saw flute players and a noisy crowd, crying and wailing and mourning for the child. "Stop all this commotion and get out of here!" Jesus said. "The girl is not dead, but asleep." Knowing that she was dead, the crowd ridiculed him, but he nevertheless put them all outside.

Then Jesus took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him in to where the little girl was lying. He took her by the hand and said, "Talitha koum!" which means, "My child, get up!" At once, her spirit returned, and she got up and began walking around.

Her parents were completely astonished at this. Jesus told them to give the girl something to eat to help restore her strength. And then he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, but news of it spread throughout all that region.

Mt 9:1 and 18-26
Mk 5:21-43
Lk 6:19

8:40-56

While Jesus and his disciples were there in Capernaum, some people brought to him a demon-possessed man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on the man and heal him. Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd, and touched the man's tongue. Then he spit and, putting his fingers into the man's ears, he looked up to heaven and called out: "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!") At this, the demon was driven out and the man's ears were opened. His tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly.

When the people saw this, they were overwhelmed with amazement. And they said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak! Is there anything this man cannot do?" Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone else about what had happened. But as usual, even after he did this, they just talked about it all the more.

Mt 9:32-33
Mk 7:32-37

When the people heard that Jesus was back in Capernaum, they began to come from all over Galilee and Judea, and even from Jerusalem, to visit him in his home. And to all who came there, he preached the Word. One day as he was teaching, there were so many gathered in his house that there was no room left, even outside the door. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.

Four men came to the house, carrying a paralytic lying on a mat. They tried to take him inside to lay him before Jesus, but couldn't find a way to do this because of the crowd. And so they went up on the roof and, digging through the tiles, made an opening directly over where Jesus was speaking. Then they lowered the paralytic on his mat into the middle of the crowd, right in front of him. When Jesus saw this display of faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, friend. Your sins are forgiven."

Now some Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. And, when Jesus said this, they began thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? No one can forgive sins but God alone. This is blasphemy!" Jesus immediately knew what was in their hearts, and he said to them, "Some of you are thinking evil of me, but let me ask you: Which is easier? To say to this paralytic; 'Your sins are forgiven'? or to tell him, 'Get up off your mat and walk'?" Then he said to the paralyzed man, "So that all may know that the Son of Man has been given authority on earth to forgive sins, I tell you, get up! Take your mat and go home!"

The man immediately stood up and, in full view of them all, took the mat he had been lying on and walked out! When the crowd saw this, everyone was filled with awe. And they gave praise to God, saying, "We have never seen anything so remarkable as we have seen today."

Mt 9:2-8
Mk 2:1-12
Lk 5:17-26

7:1

Soon afterward, Jesus and his disciples went to a town called Nain. And, as they approached the city gate, they were met by a large funeral procession coming out of the town. The dead person was the only son of his widowed mother, who was walking behind those carrying the coffin sobbing bitterly. When Jesus saw her grief, his heart went out to her. And he called out to her, "Don't cry!"

When he said this, the procession came to a stop. Jesus went up and laid his hand on the dead man and said, "I say to you, get up!" Then and there, the young man sat up and began to talk! Jesus helped him out of the coffin and gave him back to his mother. Everyone there was filled with awe, and they praised God, saying: "The Lord has come to help his people! A great prophet has appeared among us!"

Lk 7:11-16

As Jesus and his disciples went on from there, they came to Jericho where they spent the night. The next day, as they were leaving the city surrouded by a large crowd, they walked past two blind men who were sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by one of the blind men, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, asked what was happening. And when he was told that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing by, both men began to shout at the top of their lungs: "Jesus! Lord! Son of David! Have mercy on us!" The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they just shouted all the louder.

Jesus stopped, and he said: "Bring those men here to me." So the crowd told them, "Cheer up and get on your feet! He's calling you!" And, throwing their cloaks aside, they jumped to their feet and came to Jesus. When they drew near, Jesus asked them: "What is it that you want me to do for you?" "Lord," they answered, "we want to see." "Do you believe that I'm able to do this?" Jesus asked. "Yes, Lord," they replied. Jesus had compassion on them. He touched their eyes and said: "According to your faith will it be done to you. Receive your sight!" And, immediately, their sight was restored.

When all the people saw this, they praised God in loud voices! Then Jesus said to the men who had been blind: "Now go; your faith has healed you." And he warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this!" But they followed Jesus along the road, also praising God, and spread the news about him all over that region.

Mt 9:27-31
20:29-34
Mk 10:46-52

Lk 18:35-43

The Apostles and the First Mission

Even after Jesus had done all these miracles in their presence, however, many still would not believe in him. This fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Nevertheless, as a result of these miracles the crowds of people coming to hear Jesus speak were swelled by those coming to be healed of their sicknesses. They became so large that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly, but stayed out in the countryside. And he often had to withdraw to lonely places to pray. One of those days, when an especially large crowd of people and all of his most faithful disciples had gathered to hear him preach, he went up onto a mountainside and spent the night there alone praying to God.

The next morning, he came down from the mountain and - standing on a level place - called all of his disciples to him. When they were assembled, he said to them: "Look at the fields. Wouldn't you say four months more and they'll be ready for harvest? Yes? Well, then, open your eyes! Because I tell you there's a human crop out there that's ripe for harvest right now, and the harvest is plentiful! But the workers are too few. We must, therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send more workers out into his fields."

Then Jesus chose twelve of the assembled disciples that he wanted to be his full-time companions and that he felt he might be able to send out, on their own, to preach the kingdom of God. These are the names of the twelve, whom Jesus designated his Apostles, that were appointed:

- First, Simon son of Jonah, to whom Jesus later gave the name Peter
- Simon's brother Andrew
- James son of Zebedee
- James' brother John (To James and John, Jesus gave the name Boanerges, which means "sons of thunder")
- The tax collector Matthew Levi, son of Alphaeus
- James son of Alphaeus
- Philip, who - like Simon and Andrew - was from Bethsaida
- Bartholomew
- Thomas, called Didymus ("The Doubter")
- Thaddeus, or Judas, son of James
- Simon who was called "The Zealot"
- Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.

Jesus took the twelve he had appointed aside, and he said to them: "I am sending you out to preach the kingdom of God to the lost sheep of Israel. Don't waste time chatting with anyone on the road, and don't go among the Gentiles or the Samaritans. Because, I tell you the truth, we won't even finish going through the cities of Israel before the time comes for the Son of Man to enter his glory." Then Jesus gave them these instructions: "Don't take anything extra along for the journey - money, or food, or spare clothing - but depend on those you visit for support: the worker is worth his keep. When you first enter a town or village and feel you are welcome, don't move around from house to house. Instead, look for some worthy person there and stay in his house until it's time for you to move on. And while you're in that town, be gracious. Eat and drink whatever is set before you. As you enter a home, give it your blessing: Say, 'Shalom - peace! - to this house.' If the home is deserving and a man of peace lives there, your blessing will be welcomed. And even if it is not, your blessing will reflect credit on you and your message."

"But don't throw your pearls to pigs; they'll just trample them under their feet. And don't try to pacify wild dogs with what is sacred: if you do, they're apt to turn on you and tear you to pieces. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, go into their streets and say, 'We shake off even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet,' as a testimony against them. I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgement for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Because whoever accepts or rejects you, or anyone else I send, accepts or rejects me. And whoever accepts or rejects me, accepts or rejects the One who sent me."

Then Jesus gave them the authority to drive out evil spirits, and the power to cure every disease and sickness. And he told them, "Freely you have received; freely give. Heal the sick! Cleanse those who have leprosy! Drive out demons! Raise the dead! And, as you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of God is at hand'!" And so the twelve set out, preaching the Gospel of Jesus from village to village and calling on people everywhere to repent. And, in the power and name of Jesus, they drove out demons and healed the sick among all those who made them welcome.

After they had departed, Jesus selected seventy-two of the remaining disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to prepare the way in every town and place where he himself was about to go. Thus were he and his apostles able to spread his Gospel throughout the whole country, all the way down into Judea.

Mt 7:6
8:1
9:37-38
10:1-4
11:24
Mk 1:45b
3:13-19
6:7-12
Lk 5:15-16
6:12-17a
9:1-6
10:2
Jn 1: 42
4:35
6:71
10:1-12 and 16
11: 16
12:37-38
13: 20

Is 53:1

John the Baptist Passes the Torch

Now when John the Baptist was put into prison, his disciples moved from his previous location on the Jordan River to Aenon near Salim - where the water was more plentiful - and continued John's ministry of water baptisms. Although a constant stream of people was still coming to them to be baptized, the Pharisees among them heard that Jesus was also baptizing and gaining even greater numbers of followers. (In fact, it wasn't Jesus but the Apostles who were performing baptisms.) And an argument developed between one of these Pharisees and some of John's other disciples over the matter of exactly who it was that should be entitled to baptize. So they all came to John in prison and told him what Jesus was doing: "Rabbi," they said, "that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, now he's also baptizing, and everyone's going over to him."

When John heard this, he replied, "A man can receive only what God gives him. One who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The One whom God has sent from heaven is above all such earthly creatures, for he testifies to what he has seen and heard in heaven, and he speaks the words of God. Thus the man who accepts his testimony is only acknowledging that God himself is truthful. Because the Father loves his Son, he has placed everything in his hands and given him the Spirit without limitations. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. But whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.

"You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' He must become greater and I must become less, for the bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete."

Then John sent two of his disciples to confront Jesus publicly about all these things. And when the men came to where Jesus was teaching, they called out to him in front of the crowd: "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else'?" Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you have heard and seen here. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor."

Mt 11:2-5
Lk 7:18-20
Jn 3:22-36
4:1-2

Jesus Declares Himself

As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about him: "John the Baptist was a lamp that burned brightly, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. But what did you go out into the desert to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? A reed swayed by the wind? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are found in kings' palaces.

"If not that, then, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you! And if you're willing to accept it, more than a prophet. For, until John, all the Prophets and the Law merely foretold that which was yet to come. John is the one about whom it is written, 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you the truth: among those born of woman there is no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet greater than he is the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven, and it is from heaven that I have come!"

When they heard these words, all the people who had been baptized by John readily accepted what Jesus said. But most of the Pharisees and experts in the law, who hadn't been baptized by John, rejected it. And they challenged Jesus, saying: "You're appearing here as your own witness! Such unsupported testimony is not valid."

Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, you should give my testimony the same consideration you give to anyone else who comes to you in his own name. You have no idea where I came from or where I'm going; I'm the only one here who knows that. Furthermore, I have come in my Father's name. And since no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him, you must take my word for these things. For he who does not honor the Son who was sent, dishonors the Father who sent him."

Then they asked him, "Well, where is this father of yours?" Jesus replied, "If you took the trouble to know me, you would know that as well. But because you don't believe me or accept me for who I am, you cannot know me or my Father.

"Nor does his Word dwell in you. You diligently study the scriptures because you think that, in them, you'll find the key to eternal life. Yet, even though these scriptures testify about me, you refuse to come to me to claim that life. I will not accuse you on this account before the Father: I pass judgement on no one. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you don't believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?

"You see, my Father and I know you. And we know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. You accept praise from one another and justify yourselves in the eyes of men, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from God."

Then Jesus said to them, "I myself do not accept testimony and praise from men - you're the ones who judge by human standards - but I mention this that you may be saved: In your own law it is written that if I am the only one who testifies for myself, such testimony is not valid, but that the testimony of two men is valid. Well, there is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that you regard his testimony as valid because you yourselves solicited it. You sent a delegation from Jerusalem to John the Baptist, and he testified to the truth about me.

"And I have testimony even weightier than that of John. My other witness is the Father who sent me, and who has himself testified concerning me. You've never heard his voice or seen his form, but you've witnessed his work: work that he has given to me to perform, and which I am doing before your eyes." (That very day, Jesus had given sight to the blind and cured many who had various diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits.)

"This work that I am doing testifies that the Father has sent me. For, I tell you the truth, by himself a son can do nothing; he can only do what he sees his father doing. Whatever the father does, the son also does. And, because the father loves the son, he shows him everything he does. Yes, and to your amazement, he will show him even greater things than you have already witnessed!

"But to what can I compare you people? You're like children running around and calling to each other in the marketplace: 'We played the flute for you and you didn't dance; we sang a dirge, and you didn't mourn.' For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you said, 'He's crazy!' Then the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here's a glutton and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and prostitutes.' But I tell you the truth, wisdom is proven by actions. Even those so-called 'sinners' are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you, for John came to show you the way of righteousness and they believed him and repented. But even after you have seen miraculous proof of this, you have not ."

Then Jesus spoke again to all the people: "Let everyone who has ears hear this! From the coming of John the Baptist until now, the good news of the kingdom of God has been forcefully preached to this generation in my name. Blessed is the forceful man who seizes hold of it, and does not fall away. For I am the light of the world, and whoever follows me will have the light of life."

Mt 11:6-19
21:31-32
Lk 7:21-35
10:22
16:15-16
Jn 5:17, 19-20 and 31-47
6:38
8:13-19

The Death of John the Baptist

Not long after this, the tetrarch Herod celebrated his birthday, giving a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. During the celebration, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced for them. And she pleased Herod and his dinner guests so much that the tetrarch said to her, "Ask me for anything you want - up to half my kingdom! - and I swear before these men here I'll give it to you!"

She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" Finally, the time had come for Herodias to get what she wanted: "The head of John the Baptist!" she answered. Thus prompted, the girl hurried back into Herod with the request, saying: "I want you to give me - right here and now, on a platter - the head of John the Baptist!"

Herod was greatly distressed at this but, because of the oath he had sworn, couldn't bring himself to refuse her in front of his dinner guests. And so he ordered that her request be granted. An executioner was immediately sent to the prison with orders to bring John's head. The man went and beheaded John, and brought his head back to Herod's palace on a platter. There, he presented it to the girl, who quickly turned it over to her mother.

On hearing of this, John's disciples came and claimed his body. They laid it in a tomb, then went off to tell Jesus what had happened.

Mt 14:1 and 6-12
Mk 6:21-29

All Eyes Turn to Jesus

A short time after this, the apostles returned from their mission trip. And, full of joy and excitement, they gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught in his name. "Lord!" they said. "Even the demons submitted to us!"

"I know," he replied. "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven! However, the saying - 'One sows and another reaps' - is true. Others have done the hard work of sowing the crop for eternal life that I sent you out to harvest, and you've reaped the benefits of their labor. So don't rejoice so much that the spirits submit to you, but that the sower rejoices with you. And be glad that you don't have to wait to draw your wages for, I tell you that even now, your names are written in heaven."

Then, hoping to get his disciples off by themselves so that he could receive a full account of their travels in quieter surroundings, Jesus took them with him and withdrew to Bethsaida: the town by the Sea of Galilee where he first called Simon and his brother Andrew. As usual, however, a large crowd soon collected around the place they were staying. So many people were coming and going, in fact, that he and his disciples scarcely had a chance to eat. When he saw the situation, Jesus gave orders to the disciples to have a small boat ready for him, so that he could escape the crowd if the need arose.

And the need did arise because, just then, John the Baptist's disciples reached Jesus and told him what had happened. When he heard of the circumstances of John's death, Jesus was deeply aggrieved. And he said to the apostles, "Come with me. Let's go off by ourselves to someplace where it's quiet, and try to get some rest." So they set out from there in the boat he had ordered set aside to a solitary place on the other side of the lake.

But once again, Jesus was not to find the seclusion that he sought. Several people who saw him and his disciples leaving recognized them, and began following them along the shore. And as they ran on foot through the towns along the way, the townspeople called out, "Where are you going?" And when they learned the people were running after Jesus, they joined the hurrying throng. So when Jesus and the apostles got to their "solitary place," they found that a large crowd had gotten there ahead of them.

When Jesus looked up and saw the crowd, he was dismayed. But then, because the people were standing there like sheep without a shepherd - looking harassed and helpless, just as Jesus himself felt at the passing of John the Baptist - he was filled with compassion for them. And so he welcomed them. And he went up on a mountainside with his disciples and sat down, and he spoke to the people about the kingdom of God and healed those who needed healing.

Mt 9:36
14:13-14
15:29b
Mk 6:30-34
Lk 9:10-11
Jn 6:1-3

Now it was already late in the day and, as evening approached, the Twelve came to him and said: "Lord, this is a remote place, and it's getting very late. Perhaps we should send the people away, so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." Jesus replied, "Don't send them away just yet. We'll find something for them to eat." And he said to Philip, who was from that region, "Where can we buy bread around here?" (Jesus asked this only to test Philip's resourcefulness, because he already had in mind what he was going to do.)

Philip answered him: "There's no place that I know of where we can go and buy any kind of food. And besides that, Lord, it would take eight months of a man's wages to buy enough bread for everyone in this crowd to have so much as a bite! Are you sure you want to spend that much money just to give each of these people no more than a mouthful to eat?"

"Then go and see how much food you can gather up from among them," Jesus said, "and we can spread it around." The disciples fanned out through the crowd, hoping to find enough to feed everyone. But when they came back, they said: "We only found one person - a boy - with anything at all to give us. And here it is: five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. How far do you suppose they will go?"

"Bring them here to me," Jesus said, and he directed the disciples to have all the people sit down in groups on the grass-covered hillside. They did as he said, and seated everybody in groups of fifty to a hundred each. It turned out that there were about five thousand men there, and the disciples didn't even try to count the women and children.

Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven and gave thanks. And he began to break the bread and fish into pieces, which he put in baskets that he gave to his disciples to distribute among the people. They all ate as much as they wanted and, when they were finished, Jesus said to the disciples: "Let's not waste anything. Gather up the pieces that are left over." And when the disciples had completed this task, they found they had picked up twelve basketfuls of uneaten bread and fish!

After the people saw the great miracle that Jesus had performed, they all began to say, "Surely this is the Messiah, who is to come into the world and lead our nation to freedom!" Sensing that they were working themselves up to come and make him king by force, Jesus immediately dismissed them. And, to distract the crowd's attention, he sent the disciples down to the lake where they got back into the boat and set off toward Capernaum. Meanwhile, Jesus slipped away and went up onto the mountain by himself to pray.

Mt 14:15-23
Mk 6:35-46
Lk 9:12-17
Jn 6:5-16

In the small hours of the morning, Jesus finished his prayers and began to miss the company of his disciples. But he was there alone on the shore and the disciples - even though a strong wind was blowing against them - had already rowed the boat well out into the lake, three or four miles from land. Without hesitation, Jesus went out to them,: walking on the surface of the lake!

Jesus quickly caught up with the disciples and was about to pass by them in the darkness. But they saw him approaching the boat and were terrified, and they cried out in fear: "It's a ghost!" He immediately called to them: "Don't be afraid: take courage! It is I, Jesus!" The disciples were far from reassured, however, and Simon called back: "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you on the water." "Come ahead!" Jesus said.

Simon hesitantly got down out of the boat and - for a time - actually came toward Jesus, walking on the rough waters! But when he saw the boat being buffeted by the wind and the waves, and the other disciples straining at the oars, he grew frightened. And, beginning to sink, he cried out: "Lord! Save me!" Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, and he said: "You of little faith; why did you doubt?" Then Jesus and Simon climbed into the boat with the others, and - the moment they set foot on board - the wind completely died down! The disciples were utterly amazed by all this. And they worshiped Jesus, saying: "Truly! You are the Son of God!"

With the winds now calm, the boat quickly reached the shore near Gennesaret, and they anchored there for the remainder of the night.

Mt 14:24-34
Mk 6:47-51;53
Jn 6:17-21

The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake - when they fully realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there - commandeered some boats from Tiberias that had landed nearby and went off in search of them. When they found them on the other side of the lake, there was only one boat there, and a few of the people had noticed that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples but had gone off somewhere by himself. They asked him: "Rabbi, how did you get here?" But Jesus said nothing.

As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, the men of that place recognized him, and they sent word of his presence throughout the whole surrounding region. And when they heard he was there, all the people brought their sick to him, even carrying some of them on mats. And they begged Jesus to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

After a time, Jesus left the crowds there. He got back into the boat with his disciples and they went south along the Sea of Galilee to the vicinity of Magadan. But wherever he went - into villages and towns; in marketplaces or the countryside - it was the same. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled and many others, and they laid them at Jesus' feet and he healed them. And when the people saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing, they were amazed! And they praised the God of Israel.

Mt 14:35-36
15:29a, 30-31 and 39
Mk 6:54-56
8:10
Jn 6:23-24

Expanding the Ministry

Still seeking solitude, Jesus took the disciples and headed north into the remote areas along the Jordan river before it flows into the Sea of Galilee. During those days, the large crowd following them gradually dwindled, until the number of those present was about four thousand men, plus numerous women and children.

Finally, Jesus halted, and he went up and sat down on a mountainside. He called his disciples to him and said: "The time has come to send these people home. But I have compassion for them because they've come such a long distance with me, and I know some of them haven't had anything to eat for at least three days. I'm afraid that, if I send them away hungry, they'll collapse on the way."

His disciples answered as if they hadn't just witnessed the feeding of the five thousand: "But where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?" "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."

Jesus did as he had done before. He told the crowd to sit down on the ground, and took the loaves and fish and gave thanks for them. Then he broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And again, everyone ate and was satisfied, and afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of pieces of bread and fish that were left over.

Having sent the crowd away, Jesus and his disciples left that place and went therough Syrian Phoenicia to the region around Tyre and Sidon. Jesus didn't want anyone to know they were there because he wanted to spend a little more time teaching the disciples without interruption. And so he entered quietly into a private home, hoping to keep his presence in the area a secret. But, once again, this was not to be.

In fact, a woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit heard that Jesus was there almost as soon as he set foot in the house. And the woman came to the front door, begging the disciples to let her see him. They turned her away several times until, finally, she burst past them into the house and threw herself at Jesus' feet. crying out: "Lord! Son of David! My poor little daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession! Help me!"

Hot on her heels, the disciples came running in to Jesus. And they urged him: "Master, this woman's been pestering us since we got here! Just send her away!" So, at first, Jesus wouldn't even answer her. But she continued to beg him to drive the demon out of her daughter: "Lord!" she cried: "Have mercy on me!"

Now, it happened that this woman was not a Jew, but a Gentile born in that vicinity. So Jesus finally said to her: "Woman, I was sent to minister only to the lost sheep of Israel. And it isn't right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs before the children have eaten their fill." "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but may not even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children's table?"

At that, Jesus exclaimed: "Woman, you have great faith! For such a reply, your request is granted. Now, go; the demon has left your little girl." And, indeed, the child was healed from that very hour. The woman hurried home and found her daughter lying peacefully on the bed, and the demon gone.

Mt 14:35-36
15:21-28
15:29-39
Mk 6:54-56
7:24-30
8:1-10
9:30
Jn 6:22-25

When Jesus had finished instructing his disciples, he left the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, and went back down to the Sea of Galilee. He stopped off in Capernaum for a time to rest from his travels and, while he was there, some village elders from the Decapolis region came seeking his help.

"Lord," they said, "There's a Roman centurion in our district who's been so sympathetic to our nation that he's even built us a synagogue. Well, his most highly-valued servant has fallen ill, and lies at home paralyzed and in terrible pain about to die. When the centurion heard of the miracles you've been performing, he sent us to ask you to come and heal his servant. Lord, do this," they pleaded. "This man is truly deserving." Jesus said to them, "Because you're the ones that are asking, I'll go and heal him." And he set off with them for the centurion's house.

They weren't far from there when the centurion sent friends to say to Jesus: "Lord, don't trouble yourself to come any further, because I don't consider that I'm worthy enough even to have you under my roof. That's why I didn't come to you myself. But, like you, I'm a man of authority, with soldiers and servants under me. I tell this one, 'Go!' and he goes; and that one, 'Come!' and he comes. I say to them, 'Do this!' and it is done. So I know, Lord, that if you just say the word, my servant will be healed."

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished. And he said to those escorting him, "I tell you the truth, I haven't found anyone in Israel with faith any greater than that!" Then he said to the centurion's friends: "Go! It will be done just as he belived it would." And so they returned to the house, and found that - at the very moment Jesus had spoken - the servant had been completely healed.

Mt 8:5-13
Mk 7:31
Lk 7:2-10

Once, as he was on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, Jesus was traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee. And, as he was going into a village, he was met by ten lepers. They stood off at a distance and called out to him in loud voices: "Jesus! Master! Have pity on us!" When he saw them, Jesus called back, "Go, and show yourselves to the priests." Obediently, they all departed, and - as they went - they were cleansed! One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back praising God. And he threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him.

Now this man was a Samaritan, a much-hated heretic in the eyes of most Jews. Jesus said to him, "Get up: your faith has made you well." Then he asked, "But weren't all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one except this foreigner moved to return and give praise to God?"

Lk 17:11-19

Teaching with Parables

Even on those rare occasions when he returned to Capernaum to rest from his travels, people came from all over to hear Jesus teach. And one day, when he left his house to sit by the lake, such crowds gathered around him that - once again - he got into a boat and sat in it while all the people stood along the shore at the water's edge. He began to teach them and, in his teaching, he told them this story:

"Listen!" he said, "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering it, some fell along the path, where it was trampled into the ground or eaten by the birds. Some fell on rocky places, where it didn't have much soil. The plants sprang up quickly but, because the soil was shallow, they had no moisture and were not well-rooted. And when the sun came up, they were scorched, and they withered and died. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up along with the plants and choked them so that they did not bear grain. Some of the seed, though, fell on good soil, where the plants sprouted, grew and - multiplying - produced a crop that yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundred times more than what was sown." Then Jesus called out, "He who has ears, let him hear!" And he left them, and went back into his family's house.

There, some of the disciples who were closest to Jesus came to him privately, and asked him what sort of story this was, and what it meant. Jesus said to them, "It's a parable: A description of something spiritual in everyday terms. And if you don't understand this one, I'm not sure you'll understand any of them. But listen carefully, and I'll try to explain it to you. The seed is the Word of God. The soil where the seed is sown is the human heart, and the farmer who sows the seed is the Son of Man.

"Some people receive the Word like the soil along the path. They're the ones who hear the message of the kingdom of God but don't immediately understand it. And, no sooner do they hear it, than Satan comes - like the birds of the air - and snatches away the Word that was sown in their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved. Others are like the rocky places. They're the ones who, when they hear the Word, immediately receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they believe only for a short while. And in the time of testing, when trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away. The soil among the thorns stands for still others. These people hear and receive the Word, but - as they go on their way - the deceitfulness of wealth, and the worries, pleasures and desires for other things of this life come in and choke it. And they never mature and bear fruit. But the good soil is like that one man with a good and noble heart who hears the Word, understands it, accepts it and - by persevering - retains it. And he alone produces a crop yielding thirty, sixty or even a hundred times that which was sown.

"Now do you understand?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied. "Then you're blessed," he said. "For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but didn't see it, and to hear what you hear but didn't hear it."

His disciples asked him, "But why do you speak to the people in these parables?" He replied, "Whoever has will be given more, even to overflowing. And whoever does not have, even what little he thinks he has will be taken away from him. Because your eyes see and your ears hear, the knowledge of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But not to others, because in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'Ever seeing, but never perceiving; ever hearing, but never understanding.' And, for this reason, they're not able to believe.

"To those on the outside, these parables are like a secret language. As Isaiah says elsewhere: 'The heart of this people has become calloused: they've closed their eyes and made their ears dull so that they can neither see nor hear. Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven. Then I would heal them, and they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts.'

"That's why I speak in parables," Jesus told them. And from that time on, he taught many things in this manner. When he was alone with his disciples, he explained as much to them as they were able to understand, but he didn't even try to explain anything to the crowds. So was fulfilled what was spoken elsewhere in the scriptures: "I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world."

Mt 13:1-23
Mk 4:1-20
Lk 8:4-15;18
10:23-24
Jn 12:39-40
Ps 78:2
Is 6:9-10

 

All original text © 2003 by The Wayne Chaffer Estate
The Holy Bible, New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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