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(Part 1 of 3, chapters 1-8)

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Prefatory Note

1:1-4 - Dear Theophilus Many people have already written an account of the events which have happened among us, basing their work on the evidence of those whom we know were eye-witnesses as well as teachers of the message. I have therefore decided, since I have traced the course of these happenings carefully from the beginning, to set them down for you myself in their proper order, so that you may have reliable information about the matters in which you have already had instruction.

A vision comes to an old priest of God

1:5-17 - The story begins in the days when Herod was king of Judea with a priest called Zacharias, whose wife Elisabeth was, like him, a descendant of Aaron. They were both truly religious people, blamelessly observing all God's commandments and requirements. They were childless through Elisabeth's infertility, and both of them were getting on in years. One day, while Zacharias was performing his priestly functions (it was the turn of his division to be on duty), it fell to him to go into the sanctuary and burn the incense. The crowded congregation outside was praying at the actual time of the incense-burning, when an angel of the Lord appeared on the right side of the incense-altar. When Zacharias saw him, he was terribly agitated and a sense of awe swept over him. But the angel spoke to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias; your prayers have been heard. Elisabeth your wife will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. This will be joy and delight to you and many more will be glad because he is born. He will be one of God's great men; he will touch neither wine nor strong drink and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. He will turn many of Israel's children to the Lord their God. He will go out before God in the spirit and power of Elijah - to reconcile fathers and children, and bring back the disobedient to the wisdom of good men - and he will make a people fully ready for their Lord."

1:18 - But Zacharias replied to the angel, "How can I know that this is true? I am an old man myself and my wife is getting on in years ..."

1:19-20 - "I am Gabriel," the angel answered. "I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Because you do not believe what I have said, you shall live in silence, and you shall be unable to speak a word until the day that it happens. But be sure that everything that I have told you will come true at the proper time."

1:21-24 - Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zacharias, wondering why he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out and was unable to speak a word to them - for although he kept making signs, not a sound came from his lips - they realised that he had seen a vision in the Temple. Later, when his days of duty were over, he went back home, and soon afterwards his wife Elisabeth became pregnant and kept herself secluded for five months.

1:25 - "How good the Lord is to me," she would say, "now that he has taken away the shame that I have suffered."

A vision comes to a young woman in Nazareth

1:26-28 - Then, six months after Zacharias' vision, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a Galilean town, Nazareth by name, to a young woman who was engaged to a man called Joseph. The girl's name was Mary. The angel entered her room and said, "Greetings to you, Mary. O favoured one! - the Lord be with you!"

1:29-33 - Mary was deeply perturbed at these words and wondered what such a greeting could possibly mean. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; God loves you dearly. You are going to be the mother of a son, and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and will be known as the Son of the most high. The Lord God will give him the throne of his forefather, David, and he will be king over the people of Jacob for ever. His reign shall never end."

1:34 - Then Mary spoke to the angel, "How can this be," she said, "I am not married!"

1:35-37 - But the angel made this reply to her - "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the most high will overshadow you. Your child will therefore be called holy - the Son of God. Your cousin Elisabeth has also conceived a son, old as she is. Indeed, this is the sixth month for her, a woman who was called barren. For no promise of God can fail to be fulfilled."

1:38 - "I belong to the Lord, body and soul," replied Mary, "let it happen as you say." And at this the angel left her.

1:39-45 - With little delay Mary got ready and hurried off to the hillside town in Judea where Zacharias and Elisabeth lived. She went into their house and greeted her cousin. When Elisabeth heard her greeting, the unborn child stirred inside her and she herself was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is your child! What an honour it is to have the mother of my Lord come to see me! Why, as soon as your greeting reached my ears, the child within me jumped for joy! Oh, how happy is the woman who believes in God, for he does make his promises to her come true."

1:46-55 - Then Mary said, "My heart is overflowing with praise of my Lord, my soul is full of joy in God my Saviour. For he has deigned to notice me, his humble servant and, after this, all the people who ever shall be will call me the happiest of women! The one who can do all things has done great things for me - oh, holy is his Name! Truly, his mercy rests on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has swept away the high and mighty. He has set kings down from their thrones and lifted up the humble. He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands. Yes, he has helped Israel, his child: he has remembered the mercy that he promised to our forefathers, to Abraham and his sons for evermore!"

The old woman's son, John, is born

1:56 - So Mary stayed with Elisabeth about three months, and then went back to her own home.

1:57-58 - Then came the time for Elisabeth's child to be born, and she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relations heard of the great mercy the Lord had shown her and shared her joy.

1:59-60 - When the eighth day came, they were going to circumcise the child and call him Zacharias, after his father, but his mother said, "Oh, no! He must be called John."

1:61-66 - "But none of your relations is called John," they replied. And they made signs to his father to see what name he wanted the child to have. He beckoned for a writing-tablet and wrote the words, "His name is John", which greatly surprised everybody. Then his power of speech suddenly came back, and his first words were to thank God. The neighbours were awe-struck at this, and all these incidents were reported in the hill-country of Judea. People turned the whole matter over in their hearts, and said, "What is this child's future going to be?" For the Lord's blessing was plainly upon him.

1:67-75 - Then Zacharias, his father, filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking like a prophet, said, "Blessings on the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has turned his face towards his people and has set them free! And he has raised up for us a standard of salvation in his servant David's house! Long, long ago, through the words of his holy prophets, he promised to do this for us, so that we should be safe from our enemies and secure from all who hate us. So does he continue the mercy he showed to our forefathers. So does he remember the holy agreement he made with them and the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to make us this gift: that we should be saved from the hands of our enemies, and in his presence should serve him unafraid in holiness and righteousness all our lives.

1:76-79 - "And you, little child, will be called the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for his coming. It will be for you to give his people knowledge of their salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because the heart of our God is full of mercy towards us, the first light of Heaven shall come to visit us - to shine on those who lie in darkness and under the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the path of peace."

1:80 - The little child grew up and became strong in spirit. He lived in lonely places until the day came for him to show himself to Israel.


The census brings Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem

2:1-7 - At that time a proclamation was made by Caesar Augustus that all the inhabited world should be registered. This was the first census, undertaken while Cyrenius was governor of Syria and everybody went to the town of his birth to be registered. Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to David's town, Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was a direct descendant of David, to be registered with his future wife, Mary, now in the later stages of her pregnancy. So it happened that it was while they were there in Bethlehem that she came to the end of her time. She gave birth to her first child, a son. And as there was no place for them inside the inn, she wrapped him up and laid him in a manger.

A vision comes to shepherds on the hill-side

2:8-12 - There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendour of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David's town, a Saviour has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger."

2:13-14 - And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!"

2:15 - When the angels left them and went back into Heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Now let us go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made known to us."

2:16-20 - So they came as fast as they could and they found Mary and Joseph - and the baby lying in the manger. And when they had seen this sight, they told everybody what had been said to them about the little child. And those who heard them were amazed at what the shepherds said. But Mary treasured all these things and turned them over in her mind. The shepherds went back to work, glorifying and praising God for everything that they had heard and seen, which had happened just as they had been told.

Mary and Joseph bring their newly-born son to the Temple

2:21 - At the end of the eight days, the time came for circumcising the child and he was called Jesus, the name given to him by the angel before his conception.

2:22-23 - When the "purification" time, stipulated by the Law of Moses, was completed, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. This was to fulfil a requirement of the Law - 'Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord'.

2:24 - They also offered the sacrifice prescribed by the Law - 'A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons'.

2:25-32 - In Jerusalem was a man by the name of Simeon. He was an upright man, devoted to the service of God, living in expectation of the "salvation of Israel". His heart was open to the Holy Spirit, and it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ. He had been led by the Spirit to go into the Temple, and when Jesus' parents brought the child in to have done to him what the Law required, he took him up in his arms, blessed God, and said - "At last, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised! For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have made ready for every people - a light to show truth to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel."

2:33-35 - The child's father and mother were still amazed at what was said about him, when Simeon gave them his blessing. He said to Mary, the child's mother, "This child is destined to make many fall and many rise in Israel and to set up a standard which many will attack - for he will expose the secret thoughts of many hearts. And for you ... your very soul will be pierced by a sword."

2:36-38 - There was also present, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, who was a prophetess. She was a very old woman, having had seven years' married life and was now a widow of eighty-four. She spent her whole life in the Temple and worshipped God night and day with fastings and prayers. She came up at this very moment, praised God and spoke about Jesus to all those in Jerusalem who were expecting redemption.

2:39-40 - When they had completed all the requirements of the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew up and became strong and full of wisdom. And God's blessing was upon him.

Twelve years later: the boy Jesus goes with his parents to Jerusalem

2:41-48 - Every year at the Passover festival Jesus' parents used to go to Jerusalem. When he was twelve years old they went up to the city as usual for the festival. When it was over they started back home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, without his parents' knowledge. They went a day's journey assuming that he was somewhere in their company, and then they began to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. They failed to find him, however, and turned back to the city, looking for him as they went. Three days later, they found him - in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All those who heard him were astonished at his powers of comprehension and at the answers that he gave. When Joseph and Mary saw him, they could hardly believe their eyes, and his mother said to him, "Why have you treated us like this, my son? Here have your father and I been very worried, looking for you everywhere!"

21:49 - And Jesus replied, "But why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

21:50-52 - But they did not understand his reply. Then he went home with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. And his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And as Jesus continued to grow in body and mind, he grew also in the love of God and of those who knew him.


Several years later: John prepares the way of Christ

3:1-6 - In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (a year when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea Herod tetrarch of Galilee, Philip, his brother, tetrarch of the territory of Iturea and Trachonitis and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene while Annas and Caiaphas were the High Priests) the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, while he was in the desert. He went into the whole country round about the Jordan proclaiming baptism as a mark of a complete change of heart and of the forgiveness of sins, as the book of the prophet Isaiah says - 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God' .

3:7-9 - So John used to say to the crowds who came out to be baptised by him, "Who warned you, you serpent's brood, to escape from the wrath to come? See that you do something to show that your hearts are really changed! Don't start thinking that you can say to yourselves, 'We are Abraham's children', for I tell you that God could produce children of Abraham out of these stones! The axe already lies at the root of the tree, and the tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

3:10 - Then the crowds would ask him, "Then what shall we do?"

3:11 - And his answer was, "The man who has two shirts must share with the man who has none, and the man who has food must do the same."

3:12 - Some of the tax-collectors also came to him to be baptised and they asked him, "Master, what are we to do?"

3:13 - "You must not demand more than you are entitled to," he replied.

3:14 - And the soldiers asked him, "And what are we to do?" "Don't bully people, don't bring false charges, and be content with your pay," he replied.

3:15-17 - The people were in a great state of expectation and were inwardly discussing whether John could possibly be Christ. But John answered them all in these words, "It is true that I baptise you with water, but the one who follows me is stronger than I am - indeed I am not fit to undo his shoe-laces - he will baptise you with the fire of the Holy Spirit. He will come all ready to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to clear the rubbish from his threshing-floor. The wheat he will gather into his barn and the chaff he will burn with a fire that cannot be put out."

3:18-20 - These and many other things John said to the people as he exhorted them and announced the good news. But the tetrarch Herod, who had been condemned by John in the affair of Herodias, his brother's wife, as well as for the other evil things that he had done, crowned his misdeeds by putting John in prison.

Jesus is himself baptised

3:21-22 - When all the people had been baptised, and Jesus was praying after his own baptism, Heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the bodily form of a dove. Then there came a voice from Heaven, saying, "You are my dearly-loved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

3:23a - Jesus himself was about thirty years old at this time when he began his work

The ancestry of Jesus traced to Adam

3:23b-38 -People assumed that Jesus was the son of Joseph, who was the son of Heli, who was the son of Matthat, who was the son of Levi, who was the son of Melchi, who was the son of Jannai, who was the son of Joseph, who was the son of Mattathias, who was the son of Amos, who was the son of Nahum, who was the son of Esli, who was the son of Naggai, who was the son of Maath, who was the son of Mattathias, who was the son of Semein, who was the son of Josech, who was the son of Joda, who was the son of Joanan, who was the son of Rhesa, who was the son of Zerubbabel, who was the son of Shealtiel, who was the son of Neri, who was the son of Melch, who was the son of Addi, who was the son of Cosam, who was the son of Elmadam, who was the son of Er, who was the son of Jesus, who was the son of Eliezer, who was the son of Jorim, who was the son of Matthat, who was the son of Levi, who was the son of Symeon, who was the son of Judas, who was the son of Joseph, who was the son of Jonam, who was the son of Eliakim, who was the son of Melea, who was the son of Menna, who was the son of Mattatha, who was the son of Nathan, who was the son of David, who was the son of Jesse, who was the son of Obed, who was the son of Boaz, who was the son of Salmon, who was the son of Nahshon, who was the son of Amminadab, who was the son of Arni, who was the son of Hezron, who was the son of Perez, who was the son of Judah, who was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, who was the son of Terah, who was the son of Nahor, who was the son of Serug, who was the son of Reu, who was the son of Peleg, who was the son of Eber, who was the son of Shelah, who was the son of Cainan, who was the son of Arphaxad, who was the son of Shem, who was the son of Noah, who was the son of Lamech, who was the son of Methuselah, who was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Jared, who was the son of Mahalaleel, who was the son of Cainan, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam, who was the son of God.


Jesus faces temptation

4:1-2 - Jesus returned from the Jordan full of the Holy Spirit and he was led by the Spirit to spend forty days in the desert, where he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during that time and afterwards he felt very hungry.

4:3 - "If you really are the Son of God," the devil said to him, "tell this stone to turn into a loaf."

4:4 - Jesus answered, "The scripture says, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God' ."

4:5-7 - Then the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of mankind in a sudden vision, and said to him, "I will give you all this power and magnificence, for it belongs to me and I can give it to anyone I please. It shall all be yours if you will fall down and worship me."

4:8 - To this Jesus replied, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve'."

4:9-11 - Then the devil took him to Jerusalem and set him on the highest ledge of the Temple. "If you really are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here, for the scripture says, 'He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you', and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'."

4:12 - To which Jesus replied, "It is also said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'."

4:13 - And when he had exhausted every kind of temptation, the devil withdrew until his next opportunity.

Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee

4:14-15 - And now Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, - and news of him spread through all the surrounding district. He taught in their synagogues, to everyone's admiration.

4:16-19 - Then he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up and, according to his custom, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read the scriptures and the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book and found the place where these words are written - 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord'.

4:20-21 - Then he shut the book, handed it back to the attendant and resumed his seat. Every eye in the synagogue was fixed upon him and he began to tell them, "This very day this scripture has been fulfilled, while you were listening to it!"

4:22 - Everybody noticed what he said and was amazed at the beautiful words that came from his lips, and they kept saying, "Isn't this Joseph's son?"

4:23-27 - So he said to them, "I expect you will quote this proverb to me, 'Cure yourself, doctor!' Let us see you do in your own country all that we have heard that you did in Capernaum!" Then he added, "I assure you that no prophet is ever welcomed in his own country. I tell you the plain fact that in Elijah's time, when the heavens were shut up for three and a half years and there was a great famine through the whole country, there were plenty of widows in Israel, but Elijah was not sent to any of them. But he was sent to Sarepta, to a widow in the country of Sidon. In the time of Elisha the prophet, there were a great many lepers in Israel, but not one of them was healed - only Naaman, the Syrian."

4:28-30 - But when they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was furiously angry. They sprang to their feet and drove him right out of the town, taking him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, intending to hurl him down bodily. But he walked straight through the whole crowd and went on his way.

Jesus heals in Capernaum

4:31-32 - So he came down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath day. They were astonished at his teaching, for his words had the ring of authority.

4:33-34 - There was a man in the synagogue under the influence of some evil spirit and he yelled at the top of his voice, "Hi! What have you got to do with us, Jesus, you Nazarene - have you come to kill us? I know who you are all right, you're God's holy one!"

4:35-36 - Jesus cut him short and spoke sharply, "Be quiet! Get out of him!" And after throwing the man down in front of them, the devil did come out of him without hurting him in the slightest. At this everybody present was amazed and they kept saying to each other, "What sort of words are these? He speaks to these evil spirits with authority and power and out they come."

4:37 - And his reputation spread over the whole surrounding district.

4:38-39 - When Jesus got up and left the synagogue he went into Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus about her. He stood over her as she lay in bed, brought the fever under control and it left her. At once she got up and began to see to their needs.

4:40-41 Then, as the sun was setting, all those who had friends suffering from every kind of disease brought them to Jesus and he laid his hands on each one of them separately and healed them. Evil spirits came out of many of these people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he spoke sharply to them and would not allow them to say any more, for they knew perfectly well that he was Christ.

Jesus attempts to be alone - in vain

4:42-43 - At daybreak, he went off to a deserted place, but the crowds tried to find him and when they did discover him, tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he told them, "I must tell the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns as well - that is my mission."

4:44 - And he continued proclaiming his message in the synagogues of Judea.


Simon, James and John become Jesus' followers

5:1-3 - One day the people were crowding closely round Jesus to hear God's message, as he stood on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus noticed two boats drawn up on the beach, for the fishermen had left them there while they were cleaning their nets. He went aboard one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and continued his teaching of the crowds from the boat.

5:4 -When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch."

5:5 - Simon replied, "Master! We've worked all night and never caught a thing, but if you say so, I'll let the nets down."

5:6-8 - And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish - so big that the nets began to tear. So they signalled to their friends in the other boats to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "Keep away from me, Lord, for I'm only a sinful man!"

5:9-10 - For he and his companions (including Zebedee's sons, James and John, Simon's partners) were staggered at the haul of fish that they had made. Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men."

5:11 - So they brought the boats ashore, left everything and followed him.

Jesus cures leprosy

5:12 - While he was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, "If you want to, Lord, you can make me clean."

5:13 - Jesus stretched out his hand, placed it on the leper, saying, "Certainly I want to. Be clean!"

5:14 - Immediately the leprosy left him and Jesus warned him not to tell anybody, but to go and show himself to the priest and to make the offerings for his recovery that Moses prescribed, as evidence to the authorities.

5:15-16 - Yet the news about him spread all the more, and enormous crowds collected to hear Jesus and to be healed of their diseases. But he slipped quietly away to deserted places for prayer.

Jesus cures a paralytic in soul and body

5:17-20 - One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and experts in the Law were sitting near him. They had come out of every village in Galilee and Judea as well as from Jerusalem. God's power to heal people was with him. Soon some men arrived carrying a paralytic and they kept trying to carry him in to put him down in front of Jesus. When they failed to find a way of getting him in because of the dense crowd, they went up on to the top of the house and let him down, bed and all, through the tiles, into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, "My friend, your sins are forgiven."

5:21 - The scribes and the Pharisees began to argue about this, saying, "Who is this man who talks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins? Only God can do that."

5:22 - Jesus realised what was going on in their minds and spoke straight to them.

5:23-24 - "Why must you argue like this in your minds? Which do you suppose is easier - to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But to make you realise that the Son of Man has full authority on earth to forgive sins - I tell you," he said to the man who was paralysed, "get up, pick up your bed and go home!"

5:25-26 - Instantly the man sprang to his feet before their eyes, picked up the bedding on which he used to lie, and went off home, praising God. Sheer amazement gripped every man present, and they praised God and said in awed voices, "We have seen incredible things today."

Jesus calls Levi to be his disciple

5:27 - Later on, Jesus went out and looked straight at a tax-collector called Levi, as he sat at his office desk. "Follow me," he said to him.

5:28 - And he got to his feet at once, left everything behind and followed him.

5:29-30 - Then Levi gave a big reception for Jesus in his own house, and there was a great crowd of tax-collectors and others at table with them. The Pharisees and their companions the scribes kept muttering indignantly about this to Jesus' disciples, saying, "Why do you have your meals with tax-collectors and sinners?"

5:31-32 - Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to invite the 'righteous' but the 'sinners' - to change their ways.

Jesus hints at who he is

5:33 - Then people said to him, "Why is it that John's disciples are always fasting and praying, just like the Pharisees' disciples, but yours both eat and drink?"

5:34-35 - Jesus answered, "Can you expect wedding-guests to fast while they have the bridegroom with them? The day will come when they will lose the bridegroom; that will be the time for them to fast!"

5:36 - Then he gave them this illustration. "Nobody tears a piece from a new coat to patch up an old one. If he does, he ruins the new one and the new piece does not match the old.

5:37-39 - "Nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins - the wine will be spilt and the skins ruined. No, new wine must be put into new wineskins. Of course, nobody who has been drinking old wine will want the new at once. He is sure to say, 'The old is a good sound wine.'"


Jesus speaks of the Sabbath -

6:1-2 - One Sabbath day, as Jesus happened to be passing through the cornfields, his disciples began picking the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some of the Pharisees remarked, "Why are you doing what the Law forbids men to do on the Sabbath day?"

6:3-4 - Jesus answered them and said, "Have you never read what David and his companions did when they were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the presentation loaves, ate some bread himself and gave some to his companions, even though the Law does not permit anyone except the priests to eat it?"

6:5 - Then he added, "The Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath."

- and provokes violent antagonism

6:6-8 - On another Sabbath day when he went into a synagogue to teach, there was a man there whose right hand was wasted away. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Jesus closely to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath day, which would, of course, give them grounds for an accusation. But he knew exactly what was going on in their minds, and said to the man with the wasted hand, "Stand up and come out in front."

6:9 - And he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I am going to ask you a question. Does the Law command us to do good on Sabbath days or do harm - to save life or destroy it?"

6:10-11 - He looked round, meeting all their eyes, and said to the man, "Now stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was restored as sound as the other one. But they were filled with insane fury, and kept discussing with each other what they could do to Jesus.

After a night of prayer Jesus selects the twelve

6:12-16 - It was in those days that he went up the hill-side to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God. When daylight came, he summoned his disciples to him and out of them he chose twelve whom he called apostles. They were Simon (whom he called Peter), Andrew, his brother, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Simon, called the patriot, Judas, the son of James and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed him.

6:17-19 - Then he came down with them and stood on a level piece of ground, surrounded by a large crowd of his disciples and a great number of people from all parts of Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal district of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. (And even those who were troubled with evil spirits were cured.) The whole crowd were trying to touch him with their hands, for power was going out from him and he was healing them all.

Jesus declares who is happy and who is to be pitied, and defines a new attitude towards life

6:20 - Then Jesus looked steadily at his disciples and said, "How happy are you who own nothing, for the kingdom of God is yours!

6:21 - "How happy are you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied! "How happy are you who weep now, for you are going to laugh!

6:22-23 - "How happy you are when men hate you and turn you out of their company; when they slander you and detest all that you stand for because you are loyal to the Son of Man. Be glad when that happens and jump for joy - your reward in Heaven is magnificent. For that is exactly how their fathers treated the prophets.

6:24 - "But how miserable for you who are rich, for you have had all your comforts!

6:25 - "How miserable for you who have all you want, for you are going to be hungry! "How miserable for you who are laughing now, for you will know sorrow and tears!

6:26 - "How miserable for you when everybody says nice things about you, for that is exactly how their fathers treated the false prophets.

6:27-28 - "But I say to all of you who will listen to me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly.

6:29a - "As for the man who hits you on one cheek, offer him the other one as well!

6:29b-30 - And if a man is taking away your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you, and when a man has taken what belongs to you, don't demand it back."

6:31 - "Treat men exactly as you would like them to treat you."

6:32-35 - "If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that, And if you lend only to those from whom you hope to get your money back, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners and expect to get their money back. No, you are to love your enemies and do good and lend without hope of return. Your reward will be wonderful and you will be sons of the most high. For he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked!

6:36 - "You must be merciful, as your father in Heaven is merciful."

6:37-38 - "Don't judge other people and you will not be judged yourselves. Don't condemn and you will not be condemned. Make allowances for others and people will make allowances for you. Give and men will give to you - yes, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will they pour into your lap. For whatever measure you use with other people, they will use in their dealings with you."

The need for thorough-going sincerity

6:39-40 - Then he gave them an illustration - "Can one blind man be guide to another blind man? Surely they will both fall into the ditch together. A disciple is not above his teacher, but when he is fully trained he will be like his teacher."

6:41-42 - "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and fail to notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye' when you cannot see the plank in your own? You fraud, take the plank out of your own eye first and then you can see clearly enough to remove your brother's speck."

6:43-45 - "It is impossible for a good tree to produce bad fruit - as impossible as it is for a bad tree to produce good fruit. Do not men know what a tree is by its fruit? You cannot pick figs from briars, or gather a bunch of grapes from a blackberry bush! A good man produces good things from the good stored up in his heart, and a bad man produce evil things from his own stores of evil. For a man's words will always express what has been treasured in his heart."

6:46- "And what is the point of calling me, 'Lord, Lord', without doing what I tell you to do?"

6:47-49 - "Let me show you what the man who comes to me, hears what I have to say, and puts it into practice, is really like. He is like a man building a house, who dug down to rock-bottom and laid the foundation of his house upon it. Then when the flood came and flood-water swept down upon that house, it could not shift it because it was properly built. But the man who hears me and does nothing about it is like a man who built his house with its foundation upon the soft earth. When the flood-water swept down upon it, it collapsed and the whole house crashed down in ruins."


A Roman centurion's extraordinary faith in Jesus

7:1-5 - When Jesus had finished these talks to the people, he came to Capernaum, where it happened that there was a man very seriously ill and in fact at the point of death. He was the slave of a centurion who thought very highly of him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him with the request that he would come and save his servant's life. When they came to Jesus, they urged him strongly to grant this request, saying that the centurion deserved to have this done for him. "He loves our nation and has built us a synagogue out of his own pocket," they said.

7:6-8 - So Jesus went with them, but as he approached the house, the centurion sent some of his personal friends with the message, "Don't trouble yourself, sir! I'm not important enough for you to come into my house - I didn't think I was fit to come to you in person. Just give the order, please, and my servant will recover. I am used to working under orders, and I have soldiers under me. I can say to one, 'Go', and he goes, or I can say to another, 'Come here', and he comes; or I can say to my slave, 'Do this job', and he does it."

7:9 - These words amazed Jesus and he turned to the crowd who were following behind him, and said, "I have never found faith like this anywhere, even in Israel!"

7:10 - Then those who had been sent by the centurion returned to the house and found the slave perfectly well.

Jesus brings a dead youth back to life

7:11-13 - Not long afterwards, Jesus went into a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. As they approached the city gate, it happened that some people were carrying out a dead man, the only son of his widowed mother. The usual crowd of fellow-townsmen was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."

7:14 - Then he walked up and put his hand on the bier while the bearers stood still. Then he said, "Young man, wake up!"

7:15-16 - And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus handed him to his mother. Everybody present was awe-struck and they praised God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us and God has turned his face towards his people."

7:17 - And this report of him spread through the whole of Judea and the surrounding countryside.

Jesus sends John a personal message

7:18-19 - John's disciples reported all these happenings to him. Then he summoned two of them and sent them to the Lord with this message, "Are you the one who was to come, or are we to look for someone else?"

7:20 - When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you with this message, 'Are you the one who was to come, or are we to look for someone else?'"

7:21-23 - At that very time Jesus was healing many people of their diseases and ailments and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. Then he answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind are recovering their sight, cripples are walking again, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, dead men are being brought to life again, and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses his faith in me."

Jesus emphasises the greatness of John - and the greater importance of the kingdom of God

7:24-27 - When these messengers had gone back, Jesus began to talk to the crowd about John. "What did you go out into the desert to look at? Was it a reed waving in the breeze? Well, what was it you went out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? But the men who wear fine clothes live luxuriously in palaces. But what did you really go to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, a prophet and far more than a prophet! This is the man of whom the scripture says, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you'.

7:28 - Believe me, no one greater than John has ever been born, and yet a humble member of the kingdom of God is greater than he.

7:29-30 - "All the people, yes, even the tax-collectors, when they heard John, acknowledged God and were baptised by his baptism. But the Pharisees and the experts in the Law frustrated God's purpose for them, for they refused John's baptism.

7:31-35 - "What can I say that the men of this generation are like - what sort of men are they? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling out to each other, 'We played at weddings for you, but you wouldn't dance, and we played at funerals for you, and you wouldn't cry!' For John the Baptist came in the strictest austerity and you say he is crazy. Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life, and you say, 'Look, a drunkard and a glutton, a bosom-friend of the tax-collector and the outsider!' Ah, well, wisdom's reputation is entirely in the hands of her children!"

Jesus contrasts unloving righteousness with loving penitence

7:36-39 - Then one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to a meal with him. When Jesus came into the house, he took his place at the table and a woman, known in the town as a bad woman, found out that Jesus was there and brought an alabaster flask of perfume and stood behind him crying, letting her tears fall on his feet and then drying them with her hair. Then she kissed them and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were really a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of a person is touching him. He would have realised that she is a bad woman."

7:40 - Then Jesus spoke to him, "Simon, there is something I want to say to you." "Very well, Master," he returned, "say it."

7:41-42 - "Once upon a time, there were two men in debt to the same money-lender. One owed him fifty pounds and the other five. And since they were unable to pay, he generously cancelled both of their debts. Now, which one of them do you suppose will love him more?"

7:43 - "Well," returned Simon, "I suppose it will be the one who has been more generously treated,"

7:44-47 - "Exactly," replied Jesus, and then turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "You can see this woman? I came into your house but you provided no water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There was no warmth in your greeting, but she, from the moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave me no oil for my head, but she has put perfume on my feet. That is why I tell you, Simon, that her sins, many as they are, are forgiven; for she has shown me so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give."

7:48 - Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

7:49 - And the men at table with him began to say to themselves, "And who is this man, who even forgives sins?"

7:50 - But Jesus said to the woman, "It is your faith that has saved you. Go in peace."


8:1-3 - Not long after this incident, Jesus went through every town and village preaching and telling the people the good news of the kingdom of God. He was accompanied by the twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and illnesses - Mary, known as "the woman from Magdala" (who had once been possessed by seven evil spirits) Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's agent Susanna, and many others who used to look after his comfort from their own resources.

Jesus' parable of the mixed reception given to the truth

8:4-8 - When a large crowd had collected and people were coming to him from one town after another, he spoke to them and gave them this parable: "A sower went out to sow his seed, and while he was sowing, some of the seed fell by the roadside and was trodden down and birds gobbled it up. Some fell on the rock, and when it sprouted it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorn-bushes which grew up with the seeds and choked the life out of them. But some seed fell on good soil and grew and produced a crop - a hundred times what had been sown." And when he had said this, he called out, "Let the man who has ears to hear use them!"

8:9-10 - Then his disciples asked him the meaning of the parable. To which Jesus replied, "You have been given the chance to understand the secrets of the kingdom of God, but the others are given parables so that they may go through life with their eyes open and 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand' ".

8:11-15 - "This is what the parable means. The seed is the message of God. The seed sown by the roadside represents those who hear the message, and then the devil comes and takes it away from their hearts so that they cannot believe it and be saved. That sown on the rock represents those who accept the message with great delight when they hear it, but have no real root. They believe for a little while but when the time of temptation comes, they lose faith. And the seed sown among the thorns represents the people who hear the message and go on their way, and with the worries and riches and pleasures of living, the life is choked out of them, and in the end they produce nothing. But the seed sown on good soil means the men who hear the message and accept it with good and honest heart, and go on steadily producing a good crop.

Truth is not a secret to be hidden but a gift to be used

8:16-17 - "Nobody lights a lamp and covers it with a basin or puts it under the bed. No, a man puts his lamp on a lamp-stand so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden now which will not become perfectly plain and there are no secrets now which will not become as clear as daylight."

8:18 - "So take care how you listen - more will be given to the man who has something already, but the man who has nothing will lose even what he thinks he has."

8:19-20 - Then his mother and his brothers arrived to see him, but could not get near him because of the crowd. So a message was passed to him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to see you."

8:21 - To which he replied, "My mother and my brothers? That means those who listen to God's message and obey it."

Jesus' mastery of wind and water

8:22 - It happened on one of these days that he embarked on a boat with his disciples and said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake."

8:23-25 - So they set sail, and when they were under way he dropped off to sleep. Then a squall of wind swept down upon the lake and they were in grave danger of being swamped. Coming forward, they woke him up, saying. "Master, master, we're drowning!" Then he got up and reprimanded the wind and the stormy waters, and they died down, and everything was still. Then he said to them, "What has happened to your faith?" But they were frightened and bewildered and kept saying to each other, "Who ever can this be? He gives orders even to the winds and waters and they obey him."

Jesus encounters and heals a dangerous lunatic

8:26-28 - They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes which is on the opposite side of the lake to Galilee. And as Jesus disembarked, a man from the town who was possessed by evil spirits met him. He had worn no clothes for a long time and did not live inside a house, but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he let out a howl and fell down in front of him, yelling, "What have you got to do with me, you Jesus, Son of the most high God? Please, please, don't torment me."

8:29 - For Jesus was commanding the evil spirit to come out of the man. Again and again the evil spirit had taken control of him, and though he was bound with chains and fetters and closely watched, he would snap his bonds and go off into the desert with the devil at his heels.

8:30-37 - Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion!" he replied. For many evil spirits had gone into him, and were now begging Jesus not to order them off to the bottomless pit. It happened that there was a large herd of pigs feeding on the hill-side, so they implored him to allow them to go into the pigs, and he let them go. And when the evil spirits came out of the man and went into the pigs, the whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and were drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they took to their heels, pouring out the story to the people in the town and countryside. These people came out to see what had happened, and approached Jesus. They found the man, whom the evil spirits had left, sitting down at Jesus' feet, properly clothed and quite sane. That frightened them. Those who had seen it told the others how the man with the evil spirits had been cured. And the whole crowd of people from the district surrounding the Gerasenes' country begged Jesus to go away from them, for they were thoroughly frightened. Then he re-embarked on the boat and turned back.

8:38-39 - The man who had the evil spirits kept begging to go with Jesus, but he sent him away with the words, "Go back home and tell them all what wonderful things God has done for you." So the man went away and told the marvellous story of what Jesus had done for him, all over the town.

8:40 - On Jesus' return, the crowd welcomed him back, for they had all been looking for him.

Jesus heals in response to faith

8:41-42 - Then up came Jairus (who was president of the synagogue), and fell at Jesus' feet, begging him to come into his house, for his daughter, an only child about twelve years old, was dying.

8:43-44 - But as he went, the crowds nearly suffocated him. Among them was a woman, who had a haemorrhage for twelve years and who had derived no benefit from anybody's treatment. She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, with the result that her haemorrhage stopped at once.

8:45 - "Who was that who touched me?" said Jesus. And when everybody denied it, Peter remonstrated, "Master, the crowds are all round you and are pressing you on all sides ...."

8:46 - But Jesus said, "Somebody touched me, for I felt the power went out from me."

8:47 - When the woman realised that she had not escaped notice she came forward trembling, and fell at his feet and admitted before everybody why she had to touch him, and how she had been instantaneously cured.

8:48 - "Daughter," said Jesus, "It is your faith that has healed you - go in peace."

8:49 - While he was still speaking, somebody came from the synagogue president's house to say, "Your daughter is dead - there is no need to trouble the master any further."

8:50 - But when Jesus heard this, he said to him, "Now don't be afraid, go on believing and she will be all right."

8:51-52 - Then when he came to the house, he would not allow anyone to go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's parents. All those already there were weeping and wailing over her, but he said, "Stop crying! She is not dead, she is fast asleep."

8:53-54 - This drew a scornful laugh from them, for they were quite certain that she had died. But he turned them all out, took the little girl's hand and called out to her, "Wake up, my child!"

8:55-56 - And her spirit came back and she got to her feet at once, and Jesus ordered food to be given to her. Her parents were nearly out of their minds with joy, but Jesus told them not to tell anyone what had happened.

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