We pick up the story about 30 years later after Jesus has grown up.
2 Jesus’ Public Life
2.1 John the Baptist Prepares the Way
For fifteen years Emperor Tiberius had ruled that part of the world.
At that time God spoke to Zechariah’s son John, who was living in the desert. So John went along the Jordan Valley, telling the people, “Turn back to God and be baptized! Then your sins will be forgiven.” Isaiah the prophet wrote about John when he said, “In the desert someone is shouting, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord! Make a straight path for him.
Fill up every valley and level every mountain and hill. Straighten the crooked paths and smooth out the rough roads. Then everyone will see the saving power of God.’”6
John wore clothes made of camel’s hair. He had a leather strap around his waist and ate grasshoppers and wild honey.
From Jerusalem and all Judea and from the Jordan River Valley crowds of people went to John. They told how sorry they were for their sins, and he baptized them in the river.
John said to [some of] them, “An ax is ready to cut the trees down at their roots. Any tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into a fire.”
The crowds asked John, “What should we do?”
John told them, “If you have two coats, give one to someone who doesn’t have any. If you have food, share it with someone else.”
When tax collectors came to be baptized, they asked John, “Teacher, what should we do?”
John told them, “Don’t make people pay more than they owe.”
Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us?
What do we have to do?”
John told them, “Don’t force people to pay money to make you leave them alone. Be satisfied with your pay.”
Everyone became excited and wondered, “Could John be the Messiah?”
John said, “I am just baptizing with water. But someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to untie his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His threshing fork is in his hand, and he is ready to separate the wheat from the husks. He will store the wheat in his barn and burn the husks with a fire that never goes out.”
In many different ways John preached the good news to the people.
2.2 The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus left Galilee and went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John kept objecting and said, “I ought to be baptized by you. Why have you come to me?”
Jesus answered, “For now this is how it should be, because we must do all that God wants us to do.” Then John agreed.
So Jesus was baptized. And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.”9
When Jesus began to preach, he was about thirty years old.
2.3 The Temptation and Testing of Jesus
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert, so that the devil could test him. After Jesus had gone
without eating for forty days and nights, he was very hungry. Then the devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to turn into bread.”
Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say: ‘No one can live only on food. People need every word that God has spoken.’”
Next, the devil took Jesus to the holy city and had him stand on the highest part of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God’s Son, jump off. The Scriptures say: ‘God will give his angels orders about you. They will catch you in their arms, and you won’t hurt your feet on the stones.’”
Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don’t try to test the Lord your God!’”
Finally, the devil took Jesus up on a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms on earth and their power. The devil said to him, “I will give all this to you, if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came to help him.11
2.4 John the Baptizer Denies Being the Messiah
The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and temple helpers to ask John who he was. He told them plainly, “I am not the Messiah.” And when they asked if he were the Prophet, he also said “No!”
Finally, they said, “Who are you then? We have to give an answer to the ones who sent us. Tell us who you are!” John answered in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “I am only someone shouting in the desert, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord!’”
John told them, “I use water to baptize people. But here with you is someone you don’t know. Even though I came first, I am not good enough to untie his sandals.”
2.5 Jesus, the Lamb of God
The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said:
Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I told you about when I said, ‘Someone else will come. He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born.’ I didn’t know who he was. But I came to baptize you with water, so that everyone in Israel would see him.
I was there and saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven. And the Spirit stayed on him. Before this I didn’t know who he was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water had told me, “You will see the Spirit come down and stay on someone. Then you will know that he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I saw this happen, and I tell you that he is the Son of God.
2.6 John Introduces His Disciples to Jesus
The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him. When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, “Here is the Lamb of God!” John’s two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus.
When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, “What do you want?”
They answered, “Rabbi, where do you live?” The Hebrew word “Rabbi” means “Teacher.”
Jesus replied, “Come and see!” It was already about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day.
One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, “We have found the Messiah!” The Hebrew word “Messiah” means the same as the Greek word “Christ.”
Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, “Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.” This name can be translated as “Peter.”
2.7 Jesus’ First Amazing Sign
Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee.
Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there.
When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don’t have any more wine.”
Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come!
You must not tell me what to do.”
Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.”
At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, he said, “Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast.”
The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, “The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!”
This was Jesus’ first miracle, and he did it in the village of Cana in Galilee. There Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. After this, he went with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples to the town of Capernaum, where they stayed for a few days.
2.8 Jesus’ Anger Over Distorted Religion
Not long before the Jewish festival of Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem. There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw moneychangers sitting at their tables. So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins.
Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, “Get those doves out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace.”
The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, “My love for your house burns in me like a fire.”
The Jewish leaders asked Jesus, “What miracle will you work to show us why you have done this?”
“Destroy this temple,” Jesus answered, “and in three days I will build it again!”
The leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple. What makes you think you can rebuild it in three days?”
But Jesus was talking about his body as a temple.
And when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered what he had told them. Then they believed the Scriptures and the words of Jesus.
In Jerusalem during Passover many people put their faith in Jesus, because they saw him work miracles. But Jesus knew what was in their hearts, and he would not let them have power over him. No one had to tell him what people were like. He already knew.
2.9 Jesus Teaches Nicodemus, A National Leader
There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”
Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God.
Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. If you don’t believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?
No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there.
And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn’t have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God’s only Son.
The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. People who do evil hate the light and won’t come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do.
2.10 Jesus Talks with a Samaritan Woman
This time [Jesus] had to go through Samaria, and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus’ disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well.
Jesus asked her, “Would you please give me a drink of water?”
“You are a Jew,” she replied, “and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won’t have anything to do with each other?”
Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug
this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
The woman replied, “Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”
Jesus told her, “Go and bring your husband.” The woman answered, “I don’t have a husband.” “That’s right,” Jesus replied, “you’re telling the truth. You don’t have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn’t your husband.”
The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. My ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.”
Jesus said to her:
Believe me, the time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans don’t really know the one you worship. But we Jews do know the God we worship, and by using us, God will save the world. But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.
The woman said, “I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
“I am that one,” Jesus told her, “and I am speaking to you now.”
2.11 The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
The disciples returned about this time and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking with her.
The woman left her water jar and ran back into town. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?” Everyone in town went out to see Jesus.
While this was happening, Jesus’ disciples were saying to him,“Teacher, please eat something.”
But Jesus told them, “I have food that you don’t know anything about.”
His disciples started asking each other, “Has someone brought him something to eat?”
My food is to do what God wants! He is the one who sent me, and I must finish the work that he gave me to do. You may say that there are still four months until harvest time. But I tell you to look, and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready to harvest.
Even now the harvest workers are receiving their reward by gathering a harvest that brings eternal life. Then everyone who planted the seed and everyone who harvests the crop will celebrate together. So the saying proves true, “Some plant the seed, and others harvest the crop.” I am sending you to harvest crops in fields where others have done all the hard work.
2.12 Many Samaritans Believe
A lot of Samaritans in that town put their faith in Jesus because the woman had said, “This man told me everything I have ever done.” They came and asked him to stay in their town, and he stayed on for two days.
Many more Samaritans put their faith in Jesus because of what they heard him say. They told the woman, “We no longer have faith in Jesus just because of what you told us. We have heard him
ourselves, and we are certain that he is the Savior of the world!”
2.13 Jesus Returns to Galilee
Jesus had said, “Prophets are honored everywhere, except in their own country.” Then two days later he left and went to Galilee. The people there welcomed him, because they had gone to the festival in Jerusalem and had seen everything he had done.
2.14 Jesus Heals an Official’s Son
While Jesus was in Galilee, he returned to the village of Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was an official in Capernaum whose son was sick. And when the man heard that Jesus had come from Judea, he went and begged him to keep his son from dying.
Jesus told the official, “You won’t have faith unless you see miracles and wonders!”
The man replied, “Lord, please come before my son dies!”
Jesus then said, “Your son will live. Go on home to him.” The man believed Jesus and started back home.
Some of the official’s servants met him along the road and told him, “Your son is better!” He asked them when the boy got better, and they answered, “The fever left him yesterday at one o’clock.”
The boy’s father realized that at one o’clock the day before, Jesus had told him, “Your son will live!” So the man and everyone in his family put their faith in Jesus.
This was the second miracle that Jesus worked after he left Judea and went to Galilee.12
2.15 Jesus Rejected in His Hometown
Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read, “The Lord’s Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me toannounce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’”
Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus.
Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.”
All the people started talking about Jesus and were amazed at the wonderful things he said. They kept on asking, “Isn’t he Joseph’s son?”
You will certainly want to tell me this saying, “Doctor, first make yourself well.” You will tell me to do the same things here in my own hometown that you heard I did in Capernaum. But you can be sure that no prophets are liked by the people of their own hometown.
Once during the time of Elijah there was no rain for three and a half years, and people everywhere were starving. There were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent only to a widow in the town of Zarephath near the city of Sidon. During the time of the prophet Elisha, many men in Israel had leprosy. But no one was healed, except Naaman who lived in Syria.
When the people in the meeting place heard Jesus say this, they became so angry that they got up and threw him out of town. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built, because they wanted to throw him down from there. But Jesus slipped through the crowd and got away.13
2.16 Jesus Begins to Proclaim the Good News
But instead of staying in Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum. This town was beside Lake Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said, “Listen, lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, lands along the road to the sea and east of the Jordan!
Listen Galilee, land of the Gentiles! Although your people live in darkness, they will see a bright light. Although they live in the shadow of death, a light will shine on them.”
Then Jesus started preaching14 the good news that comes from God. He said, “The time has come! God’s kingdom will soon be here. Turn back to God and believe the good news!”15 News about him spread everywhere. He taught in the Jewish meeting places, and everyone praised him.