Miracles and Mercy
The Wonderful News
1This is the beginning of the wonderful news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
2It starts with Isaiah the prophet, who wrote:
Listen! I am sending my messenger ahead of you
and he will prepare your way!
3He is a thunderous voice of one
who shouts in the wilderness:
“Prepare your hearts
for the coming of the Lord Yahweh,
and clear a straight path
inside your hearts for him!”
4John the Baptizer was the messenger who appeared in an uninhabited region, preaching a baptism of repentance for the complete cancellation of sins. 5A steady stream of people came to be dipped in the Jordan River as they publicly confessed their sins. They came from all over southern Israel, including nearly all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 6John wore a rough garment made from camel hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and honey of the wilderness. 7And this is the message he kept preaching: “There is a man coming after me who is greater and a lot more powerful than I am. I’m not even worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his sandals. 8I’ve baptized you into water, but he will baptize you into the Spirit of Holiness!”
The Baptism and Testing of Jesus
9One day, Jesus came from the Galilean village of Nazareth and had John immerse him in the Jordan River. 10The moment Jesus rose up out of the water, John saw the heavenly realm split open, and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and rested upon him. 11At the same time, a voice spoke from heaven, saying:
“You are my Son, my cherished one,
and my greatest delight is in you!”
12Immediately after this he was compelled by the Holy Spirit to go into an uninhabited desert region. 13He remained there in the wilderness for forty days, enduring the ordeals of Satan’s tests. He encountered wild animals, but also angels who appeared and ministered to his needs.
Jesus Calls Four Fishermen to Follow Him
14Later on, after John the Baptizer was arrested, Jesus went back into the region of Galilee and preached the wonderful gospel of God’s kingdom realm. 15His message was this: “At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”
16As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he noticed two brothers fishing: Simon and Andrew. He watched them as they were casting their nets into the sea 17and said to them, “Come follow me and I will transform you into men who catch people instead of fish!” 18Immediately they dropped their nets and left everything behind to follow Jesus. 19Walking a little farther, Jesus found two other brothers sitting in a boat, along with their father, mending their nets. Their names were Jacob and John, and their father Zebedee. 20Jesus immediately walked up to them and invited the two brothers to become his followers. At once, Jacob and John dropped their nets, stood up, left their father in the boat with the hired men, and followed Jesus.
People Stunned by Jesus’ Teachings
21Then Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum, and he immediately started teaching on the Sabbath day in the synagogue. 22The people were awestruck and overwhelmed by his teaching, because he taught in a way that demonstrated God’s authority, which was quite unlike the religious scholars.
23Suddenly, during the meeting, a demon-possessed man screamed out, 24“Hey! Leave us alone! Jesus the victorious, I know who you are. You’re God’s Holy One and you have come to destroy us!”
25Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Silence! You are bound! Come out of him!”
26The man’s body shook violently in spasms, and the demon hurled him to the floor until it finally came out of him with a deafening shriek! 27The crowd was awestruck and unable to stop saying among themselves, “What is this new teaching that comes with such authority? With merely a word he commands demons to come out and they obey him!”
28So the reports about Jesus spread like wildfire throughout every community in the region of Galilee.
Jesus Heals Many
29Now, as soon as they left the meeting, they went straight to Simon and Andrew’s house, along with Jacob and John. 30Simon’s mother-in-law was bedridden, sick with a high fever, so the first thing they did was to tell Jesus about her. 31He walked up to her bedside, gently took her hand, and raised her up! Her fever disappeared and she began to serve them.
32Later in the day, just after the Sabbath ended at sunset, the people kept bringing to Jesus all who were sick and tormented by demons, 33until the whole village was crowded around the house. 34Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons. But he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew who he really was.
Jesus Prays, Preaches, Heals, and Casts Out Demons
35The next morning, Jesus got up long before daylight, left the house while it was dark, and made his way to a secluded place to give himself to prayer. 36Later, Simon and his friends searched for him, 37and when they finally tracked him down, they told him, “Everyone is looking for you—they want you!”
38Jesus replied, “We have to go on to the surrounding villages so that I can give my message to the people there, for that is my mission.” 39So he went throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the Jewish synagogues and casting out demons.
40On one occasion, a leper came and threw himself down in front of Jesus, pleading for his healing, saying, “You have the power to heal me right now if only you really want to!” 41Being deeply moved with tender compassion, Jesus reached out and touched the skin of the leper and told him, “Of course I want you to be healed—so now, be cleansed!” 42Instantly his leprous sores completely disappeared and his skin became smooth! 43Jesus sent him away with a very stern warning, 44saying, “Don’t say anything to anyone about what just happened, but go find a priest and show him that you’ve been healed. Then bring the offering that Moses commanded for your cleansing as a living testimony to everyone.”
45But no sooner did the man leave than he began to proclaim his healing publicly and spread the story everywhere of his healing.
Jesus’ growing fame prevented him from entering the villages openly, which forced him to remain in isolated places. Even so, a steady stream of people flocked to him from everywhere.