4 The Year of Opposition
4.1 Pray for Workers
Jesus went to every town and village. He taught in their meeting places and preached the good news
about God’s kingdom. Jesus also healed every kind of disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he felt sorry for them. They were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples,
“A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in.”
4.2 Jesus Sends Out the Twelve With Instructions
Jesus called together his twelve disciples. He gave them the power to force out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness.38
The apostles left and went from village to village,39 and started telling everyone to turn to God. They forced out many demons and healed a lot of sick people by putting olive oil on them.40
After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he left and began teaching and preaching in the towns.
4.3 Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
After the apostles returned to Jesus, they told him everything they had done and taught. But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.” They left in a boat for a place where they could be alone. But many people saw them leave and figured out where they were going. So people from every town ran on ahead and got there first.
When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the large crowd that was like sheep without a shepherd. He felt sorry for the people and started teaching them many things.
That evening the disciples came to Jesus and said, “This place is like a desert, and it is already late. Let the crowds leave, so they can go to the farms and villages near here and buy something to eat.”
Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.”42 Philip answered, “Don’t you know that it would
take almost a year’s wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?”
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”
The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to have everyone sit down. About five thousand men were in the crowd. Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat.
The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted. The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves.
After the people had seen Jesus work this miracle, they began saying, “This must be the Prophet who
is to come into the world!” Jesus realized that they would try to force him to be their king.43
Right away, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and start back across to Bethsaida. But he stayed until he had sent the crowds away.44
Then he went up on a mountain where he could be alone and pray.
4.4 Jesus Walks on the Water
Later that evening, he was still there. By this time the boat was a long way from the shore. It was going against the wind and was being tossed around by the waves. A little while before morning, Jesus came
walking on the water toward his disciples. When they saw him, they thought he was a ghost. They were terrified and started screaming.
At once, Jesus said to them, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter replied, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come on!” Jesus said. Peter then got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him.
But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Right away, Jesus reached out his hand. He helped Peter up and said, “You surely don’t have much faith. Why do you doubt?”
When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down. The men in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, “You really are the Son of God!”45
4.5 Jesus Heals All Who Touch Him
Jesus and his disciples crossed the lake and brought the boat to shore near the town of Gennesaret. As soon as they got out of the boat, the people recognized Jesus. So they ran all over that part of the country to bring their sick people to him on mats. They brought them each time they heard where he was. In every village or farm or marketplace where Jesus went, the people brought their sick to him.
They begged him to let them just touch his clothes, and everyone who did was healed.46
4.6 Jesus the Bread of Life
The people who had stayed on the east side of the lake knew that only one boat had been there.
They also knew that Jesus had not left in it with his disciples. But the next day some boats from Tiberias sailed near the place where the crowd had eaten the bread for which the Lord had given thanks. They saw that Jesus and his disciples had left. Then they got into the boats and went to Capernaum to look for Jesus. They found him on the west side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you for certain that you are not looking for me because you saw the miracles, but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because God the Father has given him the right to do so.”
“What exactly does God want us to do?” the people asked.
God wants you to have faith in the one he sent. I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty.
I have told you already that you have seen me and still do not have faith in me.
Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won’t turn any of them away.
I didn’t come from heaven to do what I want! I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me, and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day. My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith
in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day.
[Then] Jesus told them:
No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me makes them want to come.
But if they do come, I will raise them to life on the last day. One of the prophets wrote, “God will teach all of them.” And so everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to me.
The only one who has seen the Father is the one who has come from him. No one else has ever seen the Father. I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life.
I am the bread that gives life! Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and later they died. But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die. I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world.
They started arguing with each other and asked, “How can he give us his flesh to eat?”
I tell you for certain that you won’t live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day. My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with me, and I am one with you.
The living Father sent me, and I have life because of him. Now everyone who eats my flesh will live because of me. The bread that comes down from heaven isn’t like what your ancestors ate. They died, but whoever eats this bread will live forever.
Jesus was teaching in a Jewish place of worship in Capernaum when he said these things.
4.7 Many Disciples Leave Jesus
Many of Jesus’ disciples heard him and said, “This is too hard for anyone to understand.”
Jesus knew that his disciples were grumbling. So he asked, “Does this bother you? What if you should see the Son of Man go up to heaven where he came from? The Spirit is the one who gives life! Human strength can do nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are from that life-giving Spirit. But some of you refuse to have faith in me.”
Jesus said this because from the beginning he knew who would have faith in him. He also knew which one would betray him.
Then Jesus said, “You cannot come to me unless the Father makes you want to come. That is why I have told these things to all of you.”
Because of what Jesus said, many of his disciples turned their backs on him and stopped following him. Jesus then asked his twelve disciples if they were going to leave him.
Simon Peter answered, “Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life. We have faith in you, and we are sure that you are God’s Holy One.”
Jesus told his disciples, “I chose all twelve of you, but one of you is a demon!” Jesus was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. He would later betray Jesus, even though he was one of the twelve disciples.
Jesus decided to leave Judea and to start going through Galilee because the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him.47
4.8 The Faith of the Cannanite Woman
Jesus left and went to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Suddenly a Canaanite woman from there came out shouting, “Lord and Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is full of demons.”
Jesus did not say a word. But the woman kept following along and shouting, so his disciples came up and asked him to send her away.
Jesus said, “I was sent only to the people of Israel!
They are like a flock of lost sheep.”
The woman came closer. Then she knelt down and begged, “Please help me, Lord!”
Jesus replied, “It isn’t right to take food away from children and feed it to dogs.”
“Lord, that’s true,” the woman said, “but even dogs get the crumbs that fall from their owner’s table.”
Jesus answered, “Dear woman, you really do have a lot of faith, and you will be given what you want.” At that moment her daughter was healed.48
4.9 Jesus Heals the Deaf
Jesus left the region around Tyre and went by way of Sidon toward Lake Galilee. He went through the land near the ten cities known as Decapolis.49
Large crowds came and brought many people who were crippled or blind or lame or unable to talk. They placed them, and many others, in front of Jesus, and he healed them all.50
Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. They begged Jesus just to touch him.
After Jesus had taken him aside from the crowd, he stuck his fingers in the man’s ears. Then he spit and put it on the man’s tongue. Jesus looked up toward heaven, and with a groan he said, “Effatha!” which means “Open up!” At once the man could hear, and he had no more trouble talking clearly.
Jesus told the people not to say anything about what he had done. But the more he told them, the more they talked about it.51
Everyone was amazed at what they saw and heard. People who had never spoken could now speak. The lame were healed, the crippled could walk, and the blind were able to see.52
“Everything he does is good! He even heals people who cannot hear or talk.”53
Everyone was praising the God of Israel.
4.10 The Demand for a Sign
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tried to test him by asking for a sign from heaven.
He told them:
If the sky is red in the evening, you say the weather will be good. But if the sky is red and gloomy in the morning, you say it is going to rain. You can tell what the weather will be like by looking at the sky. But you don’t understand what is happening now.
You want a sign because you are evil and won’t believe! But the only sign you will be given is what happened to Jonah.
Then Jesus left.
4.11 Peter’s Great Discovery
When Jesus and his disciples were near the town of Caesarea Philippi, he asked them, “What do people say about the Son of Man?”
The disciples answered, “Some people say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet.”
Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter spoke up, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus told him:
Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed!
You didn’t discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven. So
I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and God in heaven will allow
whatever you allow on earth. But he will not allow anything that you don’t allow.
Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
4.12 Jesus Predicts His Death
From then on, Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “I must go to Jerusalem. There the nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make me suffer terribly. I will be killed, but three days later I will rise to life.”
Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. He said, “God would never let this happen to you, Lord!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Satan, get away from me! You’re in my way because you think like everyone else and not like God.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples:
If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want
to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?54
If you are ashamed of me and my mes- sage, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of his Father and the holy angels55 to reward all people for what they have done. I promise you that some of those standing here will not die before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.
4.13 Jesus Miraculously Visited by Elijah and Moses
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the brothers James and John with him. They went up on a very high mountain where they could be alone56 to pray. While he was praying,57 there in front of the
disciples, Jesus was completely changed. His face was shining like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.58
Suddenly Moses and Elijah were there speaking with him. They appeared in heavenly glory and talked about all that Jesus’ death in Jerusalem would mean.
Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was. They also saw the two men who were with him.
Moses and Elijah were about to leave, when Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But Peter did not know what he was talking about.59
While Peter was still speaking, the shadow of a bright cloud passed over them. From the cloud a voice said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am
pleased with him. Listen to what he says!” When the disciples heard the voice, they were so afraid that they fell flat on the ground. But Jesus came over and touched them. He said, “Get up and don’t be afraid!”
When they opened their eyes, they saw only Jesus.
On their way down from the mountain, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had been raised from death.
The disciples asked Jesus, “Don’t the teachers of the Law of Moses say that Elijah must come before the Messiah does?”
Jesus told them, “Elijah certainly will come and get everything ready. In fact, he has already come. But the people did not recognize him and treated him just as they wanted to. They will soon make the Son of Man suffer in the same way.” Then the disciples understood that Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist.
4.14 Jesus Heals a Boy With a Demon
Jesus and his disciples returned to the crowd. A man knelt in front of him and said, “Lord, have pity on my son! He has a bad case of epilepsy and often falls into a fire or into water. I brought him to your disciples, but none of them could heal him.”
Jesus said, “You people are too stubborn to have any faith! How much longer must I be with you?
Why do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy here.”60
They brought the boy, and as soon as the demon saw Jesus, it made the boy shake all over. He fell down and began rolling on the ground and foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
The man answered, “Ever since he was a child. The demon has often tried to kill him by throwing him into a fire or into water. Please have pity and help us if you can!”
Jesus replied, “Why do you say ‘if you can’?
Anything is possible for someone who has faith!”
Right away the boy’s father shouted, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering fast, he spoke sternly to the evil spirit that had kept the boy from speaking or hearing. He said, “I order you to come out of the boy! Don’t ever bother him again.”
The spirit screamed and made the boy shake all over. Then it went out of him. The boy looked dead, and almost everyone said he was. But Jesus took hold of his hand and helped him stand up.
4.15 The Temple Tax
When Jesus and the others arrived in Capernaum, the collectors for the temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” Peter answered.
After they had returned home, Jesus went up to Peter and asked him, “Simon, what do you think? Do the kings of this earth collect taxes and fees from their own people or from foreigners?”
Peter answered, “From foreigners.”
Jesus replied, “Then their own people don’t have to pay. But we don’t want to cause trouble. So go cast a line into the lake and pull out the first fish you hook. Open its mouth, and you will find a coin. Use it to pay your taxes and mine.”
4.16 The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
About this time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him.
Then he said:
I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And when you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me.61
John said, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of people. But he wasn’t one of us, and we told him to stop.”
Jesus said to his disciples:
Don’t stop him! No one who works miracles in my name will soon turn and say something bad about me. Anyone who isn’t against us is for us. And anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name, just because you belong to me, will surely be rewarded.62 It will be terrible for people who cause
even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the deepest part of the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their neck! The world is in for trouble because of the way it causes people to sin. There will always be something to cause people to sin, but anyone who does this will be in for trouble.
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, chop it off and throw it away! You would be better off to go into life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the fire that never goes out. If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out and get rid of it. You would be better off to go into life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fires of hell.
Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven. Let me ask you this. What would you do if you had a hundred sheep and one of them wandered off? Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go look for the one that had wandered away? I am sure that finding it would make you happier than having the ninety-nine that never wandered off. That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.
4.17 A Story About the Importance of Forgiveness
Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”
Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! This story will show you what the kingdom of heaven is like:
One day a king decided to call in his officials and ask them to give an account of what they owed him. As he was doing this, one official was brought in who owed him fifty million silver coins. But he didn’t have any money to pay what he owed. The king ordered him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all he owned, in order to pay the debt.
The official got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you every cent I owe!” The king felt sorry for him and let him go free. He even told the official that he did not have to pay back the money.
As the official was leaving, he happened to meet another official, who owed him a hundred silver coins. So he grabbed the man by the throat. He started choking him and said, “Pay me what you owe!”
The man got down on his knees and began begging, “Have pity on me, and I will pay you back.” But the first official refused to have pity. Instead, he went and had the other official put in jail until he could pay what he owed.
When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. The king called the first official back in and said, “You’re an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. Don’t you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart.63
4.18 The Cost of Following Jesus
Along the way someone said to Jesus, “I’ll go anywhere with you!”
Jesus said, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.”
Jesus told someone else to come with him. But the man said, “Lord, let me wait until I bury my father.”
Jesus answered, “Let the dead take care of the dead, while you go and tell about God’s kingdom.”
Then someone said to Jesus, “I want to go with you, Lord, but first let me go back and take care of things at home.”
Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!”
4.19 Jesus Goes to the Festival of Shelters
It was almost time for the Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Why don’t you go to Judea? Then your disciples can see what you are doing. No one does anything in secret if they want others to know about them. So let the world know what you are doing!” Even Jesus’ own brothers had not yet become his followers.
Jesus answered, “My time hasn’t yet come, but your time is always here. The people of this world cannot hate you. They hate me because I tell them that they do evil things. Go on to the festival. My time hasn’t yet come, and I am not going.” Jesus said this and stayed on in Galilee.
After Jesus’ brothers had gone to the festival, he went secretly, without telling anyone.
4.20 Is Jesus the Messiah?
Some of the people from Jerusalem were saying, “Isn’t this the man they want to kill? Yet here he is, speaking for everyone to hear. And no one is arguing with him. Do you suppose the authorities know that he is the Messiah? But how could that be? No one knows where the Messiah will come from, but we know where this man comes from.”
As Jesus was teaching in the temple, he shouted, “Do you really think you know me and where I came from? I didn’t come on my own! The one who sent me is truthful, and you don’t know him. But I know the one who sent me, because I came from him.”
Some of the people wanted to arrest Jesus right then. But no one even laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. A lot of people in the crowd put their faith in him and said, “When the Messiah comes, he surely won’t perform more miracles than this man has done!”
When the Pharisees heard the crowd arguing about Jesus, they got together with the chief priests and sent some temple police to arrest him. But Jesus told them, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I will return to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you won’t find me. You cannot go where I am going.”
The people asked each other, “Where can he go to keep us from finding him? Is he going to some foreign country where our people live? Is he going there to teach the Greeks? What did he mean by saying that we will look for him, but won’t find him? Why can’t we go where he is going?”
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say.” Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.
When the crowd heard Jesus say this, some of them said, “He must be the Prophet!” Others
said, “He is the Messiah!” Others even said, “Can the Messiah come from Galilee? The Scriptures say that the Messiah will come from the family of
King David. Doesn’t this mean that he will be born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem?” The people started taking sides against each other because of Jesus. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.
4.21 A Woman Caught in Adultery
Everyone else went home, but Jesus walked out to the Mount of Olives. Then early the next morning he went to the temple. The people came to him, and he sat down and started teaching them.
The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses brought in a woman who had been caught in bed with a man who wasn’t her husband. They made her stand in the middle of the crowd. Then they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who isn’t her husband. The Law of Moses teaches that a woman like this should be stoned to death! What do you say?”
They asked Jesus this question, because they wanted to test him and bring some charge against him. But Jesus simply bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger.
They kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, “If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!” Once again he bent over and began writing on the ground. The people left one by one, beginning with the oldest. Finally, Jesus and the woman were there alone.
Jesus stood up and asked her, “Where is everyone?
Isn’t there anyone left to accuse you?” “No sir,” the woman answered.
Then Jesus told her, “I am not going to accuse you either. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.”
4.22 Jesus, The Light of the World
Once again Jesus spoke to the people. This time he said, “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.”
The Pharisees objected, “You are the only one speaking for yourself, and what you say isn’t true!” Jesus replied:
Even if I do speak for myself, what I say is true! I know where I came from and where I am going. But you don’t know where I am from or where I am going. You judge in the same way that everyone else does, but I don’t judge anyone. If I did judge, I would judge fairly, because I would not be doing it alone. The Father who sent me is here with me. Your Law requires two witnesses to prove that something is true. I am one of my witnesses, and the Father who sent me is the other one.
“Where is your Father?” they asked. “You don’t know me or my Father!” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would know my Father.”
Jesus said this while he was still teaching in the place where the temple treasures were stored. But no one arrested him, because his time had not yet come. Jesus also told them, “I am going away, and you will look for me. But you cannot go where I am going, and you will die with your sins unforgiven.”
The Jewish leaders asked, “Does he intend to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying we cannot go where he is going?”
Jesus answered, “You are from below, but I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don’t. That is why I said you will die with your sins unforgiven. If you don’t have faith in me for who I am, you will die, and your sins will not be forgiven.”
“Who are you?” they asked Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am exactly who I told you at the beginning. There is a lot more I could say to condemn you. But the one who sent me is truthful, and I tell the people of this world only what I have heard from him.”
No one understood that Jesus was talking to them about the Father.
Jesus went on to say, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, you will know who I am. You will also know that I don’t do anything on my own. I say only what my Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. I always do what pleases him, and he will never leave me.”
After Jesus said this, many of the people put their faith in him.
4.23 The Children of Abraham
Jesus told the people who had faith in him, “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered, “We are Abraham’s children! We have never been anyone’s slaves. How can you say we will be set free?”
I tell you for certain that anyone who sins is a slave of sin! And slaves don’t stay in the family forever, though the Son will always remain in the family. If the Son gives you freedom, you are free! I know that you are from Abraham’s family. Yet you want to kill me, because my message isn’t really in your hearts. I am telling you what my Father has shown me, just as you are doing what your father has taught you.
The people said to Jesus, “Abraham is our father!” Jesus replied, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did. Instead, you want to kill me for telling you the truth that God gave me. Abraham never did anything like that. But you are doing exactly what your father does.”
“Don’t accuse us of having someone else as our father!” they said. “We just have one father, and he is God.”
4.24 Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?”
“No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him. As long as it is day, we must do what the one who sent me wants me to do. When night comes, no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light for the world.”
After Jesus said this, he spit on the ground. He made some mud and smeared it on the man’s eyes. Then he said, “Go and wash off the mud in Siloam Pool.” The man went and washed in Siloam, which means, “One Who Is Sent.” When he had washed off the mud, he could see.
The man’s neighbors and the people who had seen him begging wondered if he really could be the same man. Some of them said he was the same beggar, while others said he only looked like him. But he told them, “I am that man.”
“Then how can you see?” they asked.
He answered, “Someone named Jesus made some mud and smeared it on my eyes. He told me to go and wash it off in Siloam Pool. When I did, I could see.”
“Where is he now?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he answered.
4.25 Some Religious Leaders Investigate the Healing
The day when Jesus made the mud and healed the man was a Sabbath. So the people took the man to the Pharisees. They asked him how he was able to see, and he answered, “Jesus made some mud and smeared it on my eyes. Then after I washed it off, I could see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus doesn’t come from God. If he did, he would not break the law of the Sabbath.”
Others asked, “How could someone who is a sinner work such a miracle?”
Since the Pharisees could not agree among themselves, they asked the man, “What do you say about this one who healed your eyes?”
“He is a prophet!” the man told them.
But the Jewish leaders would not believe that the man had once been blind. They sent for his parents and asked them, “Is this the son that you said was born blind? How can he now see?”
The man’s parents answered, “We are certain that he is our son, and we know that he was born blind. But we don’t know how he got his sight or who gave it to him. Ask him! He is old enough to speak for himself.”
The man’s parents said this because they were afraid of their leaders. The leaders had already agreed that no one was to have anything to do with anyone who said Jesus was the Messiah.
The leaders called the man back and said, “Swear by God to tell the truth! We know that Jesus is a sinner.”
The man replied, “I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. All I know is that I used to be blind, but now I can see!”
“What did he do to you?” the Jewish leaders asked. “How did he heal your eyes?”
The man answered, “I have already told you once, and you refused to listen. Why do you want me
to tell you again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
The leaders insulted the man and said, “You are his follower! We are followers of Moses. We are sure that God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where Jesus comes from.”
“How strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from. We know that God listens only to people who love and obey him. God doesn’t listen to sinners. And this is the first time in history that anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind. Jesus could not do anything unless he came from God.”
The leaders told the man, “You have been a sinner since the day you were born! Do you think you can teach us anything?” Then they said, “You can never come back into any of our meeting places!”
4.26 Spiritual Blindness
When Jesus heard what had happened, he went and found the man. Then Jesus asked, “Do you have faith in the Son of Man?”
He replied, “Sir, if you will tell me who he is, I will put my faith in him.”
“You have already seen him,” Jesus answered, “and right now he is talking with you.”
The man said, “Lord, I put my faith in you!” Then he worshiped Jesus.
Jesus told him, “I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.”
When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, “Are we blind?”
Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.”
4.27 The Shepherd and His Flock
I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.
When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow strangers. They don’t recognize a stranger’s voice, and they run away. Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.
I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved.
Through me they will come and go and find pasture.
A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they
run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice.
Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.
The Father loves me because I give up my life so that I may receive it back again.
No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.
The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. Many of them said, “He has a demon in him! He is crazy! Why listen to him? ”
But others said, “How could anyone with a demon in him say these things? No one like that could give sight to a blind person!”65
4.28 The Great Commandment, a Powerful Story
An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”
The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’”
Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”
But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, “Who are my neighbors?”
As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead.
A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side.
A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.
Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.’’
Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?”
The teacher answered, “The one who showed pity.”
Jesus said, “Go and do the same!”
4.29 At the Home of Martha and Mary
The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!”
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”
4.30 Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer
When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.”
So Jesus told them, “Pray in this way: Father, help us to honor your name.
Come and set up your kingdom. Give us each day the food we need. Forgive our sins, as we forgive everyone who has done wrong to us. And keep us from being tempted.’”
Then Jesus went on to say:
Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, “Let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine has dropped in, and I don’t have a thing for him to eat.” And suppose your friend answers, “Don’t bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something.”
He may not get up and give you the bread just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.
So I tell you to ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find, and the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish? Which one of you would give your child a scorpion if the child asked for an egg? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks.66
4.31 Warnings and Encouragements
As thousands of people crowded around Jesus and were stepping on each other, he told his disciples:
Be sure to guard against the dishonest teaching of the Pharisees! It is their way of fooling people. Everything that is hidden will be found out, and every secret will
be known. Whatever you say in the dark will be heard when it is day. Whatever you whisper in a closed room will be shouted from the housetops.
My friends, don’t be afraid of people. They can kill you, but after that, there is nothing else they can do. God is the one you must fear. Not only can he take your life, but he can throw you into hell. God is certainly the one you should fear!
Five sparrows are sold for just two pennies, but God doesn’t forget a one of them. Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don’t be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.
If you tell others that you belong to me, the Son of Man will tell God’s angels that you are my followers. But if you reject me, you will be rejected in front of them. If you speak against the Son of Man, you can be forgiven, but if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you cannot be forgiven.
When you are brought to trial in the Jewish meeting places or before rulers or officials, don’t worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say. At that time the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.
4.32 The Parable of the Rich Fool
A man in a crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.”
Jesus answered, “Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?”
Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, “What can I do?
I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.”
Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods.” Then I’ll say to myself, “You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”
But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?’
This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves but are poor in the sight of God.67
4.33 Not Peace, but Division
The Lord [said]:
I came to set fire to the earth, and I wish it were already on fire! I am going to be put to a hard test. And I will have to suffer a lot of pain until it is over. Do you think that I came to bring peace to earth? No indeed! I came to make people choose sides. A family of five will be divided, with two of them against the other three. Fathers and sons will turn against one another, and mothers and daughters will do the same. Mothers- in-law and daughters-in-law will also turn against each other.68
4.34 Turn Back to God
About this same time Jesus was told that Pilate had given orders for some people from Galilee to be killed while they were offering sacrifices.
Do you think that these people were worse sinners than everyone else in Galilee just because of what happened to them? Not at all! But you can be sure that if you don’t turn back to God, every one of you will also be killed. What about those eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Do you think they were worse than everyone else in Jerusalem? Not at all! But you can be sure that if you don’t turn back to God, every one of you will also die.
Jesus then told them this story:
A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. One day he went out to pick some figs, but he didn’t find any. So he said to
the gardener, “For three years I have come looking for figs on this tree, and I haven’t found any yet. Chop it down! Why should it take up space?”
The gardener answered, “Master, leave it for another year. I’ll dig around it and put some manure on it to make it grow. Maybe it will have figs on it next year. If it doesn’t, you can have it cut down.”
4.35 The Narrow Door
As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he taught the people in the towns and villages. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
Do all you can to go in by the narrow door! A lot of people will try to get in, but will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and locks the door, you will be left standing outside. You will knock on the door and say, “Sir, open the door for us!”
But the owner will answer, “I don’t know a thing about you!”
Then you will start saying, “We dined with you, and you taught in our streets.”
But he will say, “I really don’t know who you are! Get away from me, you evil people!”
Then when you have been thrown outside, you will weep and grit your teeth because you will see Abraham and Isaac and all the prophets in God’s kingdom. People will come from all directions and sit down to feast in God’s kingdom. There the ones who are now least important will be the most important, and those who are now most important will be least important.
4.36 Jesus at a Pharisee’s House
One Sabbath, Jesus was having dinner in the home of an important Pharisee, and everyone was carefully watching Jesus. All of a sudden a man with swollen legs stood up in front of him. Jesus turned and asked the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses, “Is it right to heal on the Sabbath?” But they did not say a word.
Jesus took hold of the man. Then he healed him and sent him away. Afterwards, Jesus asked the people, “If your son or ox falls into a well, wouldn’t you pull him out right away, even on the Sabbath?” There was nothing they could say. Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them:
When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. Then
the one who invited you will come and say, “Give your place to this other guest!” You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.
When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, “My friend, take a better seat!” You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him: When you give a dinner or a banquet,
don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.
4.37 The Parable of the Great Banquet
After Jesus had finished speaking, one of the guests said, “The greatest blessing of all is to be at the banquet in God’s kingdom!”
Jesus told him:
A man once gave a great banquet and invited a lot of guests. When the banquet was ready, he sent a servant to tell the guests, “Everything is ready! Please come.”
One guest after another started making excuses. The first one said, “I bought some land, and I’ve got to look it over. Please excuse me.”
Another guest said, “I bought five teams of oxen, and I need to try them out. Please excuse me.”
Still another guest said, “I have just gotten married, and I can’t be there.”
The servant told his master what happened, and the master became so angry that he said, “Go as fast as you can to every street and alley in town! Bring in everyone who is poor or crippled or blind or lame.”
When the servant returned, he said, “Master, I’ve done what you told me, and there is still plenty of room for more people.”
His master then told him, “Go out along the back roads and fence rows and make people come in, so that my house will be full. Not one of the guests I first invited will get even a bite of my food!”
4.38 The Cost of Being a Follower of Jesus
Large crowds were walking along with Jesus, when he turned and said:
You cannot be my disciple unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life.
You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won’t you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it? Otherwise, you will start building the tower, but not be able to finish. Then everyone who sees what is
happening will laugh at you. They will say, “You started building, but could not finish the job.”
What will a king do if he has only ten thousand soldiers to defend himself against a king who is about to attack him with twenty thousand soldiers? Before he goes out to battle, won’t he first sit down and decide if he can win? If he thinks he won’t be able to defend himself, he will send messengers and ask for peace while the other king is still a long way off. So then, you cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own.
Salt is good, but if it no longer tastes like salt, how can it be made to taste salty again? It is no longer good for the soil or even for the manure pile. People simply throw it out. If you have ears, pay attention!
4.39 The Story of the Lost Sheep
Tax collectors and sinners were all crowding around to listen to Jesus. So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses started grumbling, “This man is friendly with sinners. He even eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this story:
If any of you has a hundred sheep, and one of them gets lost, what will you do? Won’t you leave the ninety-nine in the field and go look for the lost sheep until you find it? And when you find it, you will be so glad that you will put it on your shoulder and carry it home. Then you will call in your friends and neighbors and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep.”
Jesus said, “In the same way there is more happiness in heaven because of one sinner who turns to God than over ninety-nine good people who don’t need to.”
4.40 The Story of the Lost Coin
Jesus told the people another story:
What will a woman do if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them? Won’t she light a lamp, sweep the floor, and look carefully until she finds it? Then she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found the coin I lost.”
Jesus said, “In the same way God’s angels are happy when even one person turns to him.”
4.41 The Story of the Lost Son
Jesus also told them another story:
Once a man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Give me my share of the property.” So the father divided his property between his two sons.
Not long after that, the younger son packed up everything he owned and left for a foreign country, where he wasted all his money in wild living. He had spent everything when a bad famine spread through that whole land. Soon he had nothing to eat.
He went to work for a man in that country, and the man sent him out to take care of his pigs. He would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing.
Finally, he came to his senses and said, “My father’s workers have plenty to eat, and here I am, starving to death! I will go to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son. Treat me like one of your workers.’”
The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him.
The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God in heaven and against you. I am no longer good enough to be called your son.”
But his father said to the servants, “Hurry and bring the best clothes and put them
on him. Give him a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. Get the best calf and prepare it, so we can eat and celebrate. This son of mine was dead, but has now come back to life. He was lost and has now been found.” And they began to celebrate.
The older son had been out in the field. But when he came near the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants over and asked, “What’s going on here?”
The servant answered, “Your brother has come home safe and sound, and your father ordered us to kill the best calf.” The older brother got so angry that he would not even go into the house.
His father came out and begged him to go in. But he said to his father, “For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give
a dinner for my friends. This other son of yours wasted your money on prostitutes. And now that he has come home, you ordered the best calf to be killed for a feast.”
His father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we should be glad and celebrate! Your brother was dead, but he is now alive. He was lost and has now been found.”
4.42 The Rich Man and a Poor Beggar
Jesus said to his disciples:
There was once a rich man who wore expensive clothes and every day ate the best food. But a poor beggar named Lazarus was brought to the gate of the rich man’s house. He was happy just to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.
His body was covered with sores, and dogs kept coming up to lick them. The poor man died, and angels took him to the place of honor next to Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. He went to hell and was suffering terribly. When he looked up and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side, he said to Abraham, “Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch my tongue. I’m suffering terribly in this fire.”
Abraham answered, “My friend, remember that while you lived, you had everything good, and Lazarus had
everything bad. Now he is happy, and you are in pain. And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over.”
But the rich man said, “Abraham, then please send Lazarus to my father’s home. Let him warn my five brothers, so they won’t come to this horrible place.”
Abraham answered, “Your brothers can read what Moses and the prophets wrote. They should pay attention to that.”
Then the rich man said, “No, that’s not enough! If only someone from the dead would go to them, they would listen and turn to God.”
So Abraham said, “If they won’t pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even to someone who comes back from the dead.”
4.43 The Death of Lazarus
A man by the name of Lazarus was sick in the village of Bethany. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This was the same Mary who later poured perfume on the Lord’s head and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent a message to the Lord and told him that his good friend Lazarus was sick
When Jesus heard this, he said, “His sickness won’t end in death. It will bring glory to God and his Son.”
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and brother. But he stayed where he was for two more days. Then he said to his disciples, “Now we will go back to Judea.”
“Teacher,” they said, “the people there want to stone you to death! Why do you want to go back?”
Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in each day? If you walk during the day, you will have light from the sun, and you won’t stumble. But if you walk during the night, you will stumble, because you don’t have any light.”
Then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, and I am going there to wake him up.”
They replied, “Lord, if he is asleep, he will get better.” Jesus really meant that Lazarus was dead, but they thought he was talking only about sleep.
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead! I am glad that I wasn’t there, because now you will have a chance to put your faith in me. Let’s go to him.”
Thomas, whose nickname was “Twin,” said to the other disciples, “Come on. Let’s go, so we can die with him.”
4.44 Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus
When Jesus got to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany
was only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many people had come from the city to comfort
Martha and Mary because their brother had died.
When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Yet even now
I know that God will do anything you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will live again!”
Martha answered, “I know that he will be raised to life on the last day, when all the dead are raised.”
Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord!” she replied. “I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.”
After Martha said this, she went and privately said to her sister Mary, “The Teacher is here, and he wants to see you.” As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went out to Jesus. He was still outside the village where Martha had gone to meet him. Many people had come to comfort Mary, and when they saw her quickly leave the house, they thought she was going out to the tomb to cry. So they followed her.
Mary went to where Jesus was. Then as soon as she saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, he was terribly upset and asked, “Where have you put his body?”
They replied, “Lord, come and you will see.”
Jesus started crying, and the people said, “See how much he loved Lazarus.”
Some of them said, “He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
4.45 Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”
Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”
After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”
When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.
Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”
4.46 Ruling Officials Plot to Kill Jesus
Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw the things that Jesus did, and they put their faith in him. Others went to the Pharisees and told what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the
Pharisees called the council together and said, “What should we do? This man is working a lot of miracles. If we don’t stop him now, everyone will put their faith in him. Then the Romans will come and destroy our temple and our nation.”
One of the council members was Caiaphas, who was also high priest that year. He spoke up and said, “You people don’t have any sense at all! Don’t you know it is better for one person to die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed?” Caiaphas did not say this on his own. As high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation. Yet Jesus would not die just for the Jewish nation. He would die to bring together all of God’s scattered people. From that day on, the council started making plans to put Jesus to death.
Because of this plot against him, Jesus stopped going around in public. He went to the town of Ephraim, which was near the desert, and he stayed there with his disciples.69
4.47 The Coming Kingdom of God
Some Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He answered, “God’s kingdom isn’t something you can see. There is no use saying, ‘Look! Here it is’ or ‘Look! There it is.’ God’s kingdom is here with you.”
Jesus said to his disciples:
The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not. When people say to you, “Look there,” or “Look here,” don’t go looking for him. The day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing across the sky. But first
he must suffer terribly and be rejected by the people of today. When the Son of Man comes, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day when Noah went into the big boat. Then the flood came and drowned everyone on earth.
When Lot lived, people were also eating and drinking. They were buying, selling, planting, and building. But on the very day Lot left Sodom, fiery flames poured down from the sky and killed everyone. The same will happen on the day when the Son of Man appears.
At that time no one on a rooftop should go down into the house to get anything. No one in a field should go back to the house for anything. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife.
People who try to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives will save them. On that night two people will be sleeping in the same bed, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. Two women will be together grinding wheat, but only one will be taken. The other will be left.
Then Jesus’ disciples spoke up, “But where will this happen, Lord?”
Jesus said, “Where there is a corpse, there will always be buzzards.”
4.48 The Story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else:
Two men went into the temple to pray.
One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn.”
The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, “God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner.”
Then Jesus said, “When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.”70
4.49 The Little Children and Jesus
Some people brought their children to Jesus so that he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But his disciples told the people to stop bothering him.
When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. I promise you that you cannot get into God’s kingdom unless you accept it the way a child does.”
Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them.71
4.50 The Rich Young Man
A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man asked.
Jesus answered, “Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother. And love others as much as you love yourself.”72
The man answered, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.”
Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There’s one thing you still need to do.73 If you want to be perfect, go sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower.”
When the young man heard this, he was sad, because he was very rich.
Jesus said to his disciples, “It’s terribly hard for rich people to get into the kingdom of heaven! In fact, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God’s kingdom.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly surprised and asked, “How can anyone ever be saved?”
Jesus looked straight at them and said, “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
Peter replied, “Remember, we have left everything to be your followers! What will we get?”
Yes, all of you have become my followers. And so in the future world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, I promise that you will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given a hundred times as much. They will also have eternal life. But many who are now first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
4.51 The Story of the Workers in the Vineyard
As Jesus was telling what the kingdom of heaven would be like, he said:
Early one morning a man went out to hire some workers for his vineyard. After he had agreed to pay them the usual amount for a day’s work, he sent them off to his vineyard.
About nine that morning, the man saw some other people standing in the market with nothing to do. He said he would pay them what was fair, if they would work in his vineyard. So they went.
At noon and again about three in the afternoon he returned to the market. And each time he made the same agreement with others who were loafing around with nothing to do.
Finally, about five in the afternoon the man went back and found some others standing there. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”
“Because no one has hired us,” they answered. Then he told them to go work in his vineyard.
That evening the owner of the vineyard told the man in charge of the workers to call them in and give them their money. He also told the man to begin with the ones who were hired last. When the workers arrived, the ones who had been hired at five in the afternoon were given a full day’s pay.
The workers who had been hired first thought they would be given more than the others. But when they were given the same, they began complaining to the owner of the vineyard. They said, “The ones who were hired last worked for only one hour. But you paid them the same that you did us. And we worked in the hot sun all day long!”
The owner answered one of them, “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on. Take your money now and go! What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Why should you be jealous, if I want to be generous?”
Jesus then said, “So it is. Everyone who is now first will be last, and everyone who is last will be first.”74
4.52 Jesus Again Predicts His Death and Resurrection
Jesus took the twelve apostles aside and said: We are now on our way to Jerusalem.
Everything that the prophets wrote about
the Son of Man will happen there. He will be handed over to foreigners, who will make fun of him, mistreat him, and spit on him. They will beat him and kill him, but three days later he will rise to life.
The apostles did not understand what Jesus was talking about. They could not understand, because the meaning of what he said was hidden from them.75
4.53 Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
Jesus and his disciples went to Jericho. And as they were leaving, they were followed by a large crowd. A blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting beside the road. When he heard that it was Jesus from Nazareth, he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” Many people told the man to stop, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, have pity on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him over!” They called out to the blind man and said, “Don’t be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you.” The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus.
Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man answered, “Master, I want to see!”
Jesus told him, “You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.”
Right away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus
4.54 Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Jesus was going through Jericho, where a man named Zacchaeus lived. He was in charge of collecting taxes and was very rich. Jesus was heading his way, and Zacchaeus wanted to see what he was like. But Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree.
When Jesus got there, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down! I want to stay with you today.” Zacchaeus hurried down and gladly welcomed Jesus.
Everyone who saw this started grumbling, “This man Zacchaeus is a sinner! And Jesus is going home to eat with him.”
Later that day Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my property to the poor. And I will now pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated.”
Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.”