This is the beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, "I am sending my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way for you."
"A voice cries out in the desert: 'Prepare the way for the Lord! Make his paths straight!'"
John the Baptizer was in the desert telling people about a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
All Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
John was dressed in clothes made from camel's hair. He wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
He announced, "The one who comes after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to bend down and untie his sandal straps.
I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
As Jesus came out of the water, he saw heaven split open and the Spirit coming down to him as a dove.
A voice from heaven said, "You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you."
At once the Spirit brought him into the desert,
where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days. He was there with the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
After John had been put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee and told people the Good News of God.
He said, "The time has come, and the kingdom of God is near. Change the way you think and act, and believe the Good News."
As he was going along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the sea because they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them, "Come, follow me! I will teach you how to catch people instead of fish."
They immediately left their nets and followed him.
As Jesus went on a little farther, he saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat preparing their nets [to go fishing].
He immediately called them, and they left their father Zebedee and the hired men in the boat and followed Jesus.
Then they went to Capernaum. On the next day of worship, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.
The people were amazed at his teachings. Unlike their scribes, he taught them with authority.
At that time there was a man in the synagogue who was controlled by an evil spirit. He shouted,
"What do you want with us, Jesus from Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
Jesus ordered the spirit, "Keep quiet, and come out of him!"
The evil spirit threw the man into convulsions and came out of him with a loud shriek.
Everyone was stunned. They said to each other, "What is this? This is a new teaching that has authority behind it! He gives orders to evil spirits, and they obey him."
The news about him spread quickly throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
After they left the synagogue, they went directly to the house of Simon and Andrew. James and John went with them.
Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. The first thing they did was to tell Jesus about her.
Jesus went to her, took her hand, and helped her get up. The fever went away, and she prepared a meal for them.
In the evening, when the sun had set, people brought to him everyone who was sick and those possessed by demons.
The whole city had gathered at his door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases and forced many demons out of people. However, he would not allow the demons to speak. After all, they knew who he was.
In the morning, long before sunrise, Jesus went to a place where he could be alone to pray.
Simon and his friends searched for him.
When they found him, they told him, "Everyone is looking for you."
Jesus said to them, "Let's go somewhere else, to the small towns that are nearby. I have to spread [the Good News] in them also. This is why I have come."
So he went to spread [the Good News] in the synagogues all over Galilee, and he forced demons out of people.
Then a man with a serious skin disease came to him. The man fell to his knees and begged Jesus, "If you're willing, you can make me clean."
Jesus felt sorry for him, reached out, touched him, and said, "I'm willing. So be clean!"
Immediately, his skin disease went away, and he was clean.
Jesus sent him away at once and warned him,
"Don't tell anyone about this! Instead, show yourself to the priest. Then offer the sacrifices which Moses commanded as proof to people that you are clean."
When the man left, he began to talk freely. He spread his story so widely that Jesus could no longer enter any city openly. Instead, he stayed in places where he could be alone. But people still kept coming to him from everywhere.
Several days later Jesus came back to Capernaum. The report went out that he was home.
Many people had gathered. There was no room left, even in front of the door. Jesus was speaking [God's] word to them.
Four men came to him carrying a paralyzed man.
Since they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof over the place where Jesus was. Then they lowered the cot on which the paralyzed man was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
Some scribes were sitting there. They thought,
"Why does he talk this way? He's dishonoring God. Who besides God can forgive sins?"
At once, Jesus knew inwardly what they were thinking. He asked them, "Why do you have these thoughts?
Is it easier to say to this paralyzed man, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, pick up your cot, and walk'?
I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." Then he said to the paralyzed man,
"I'm telling you to get up, pick up your cot, and go home!"
The man got up, immediately picked up his cot, and walked away while everyone watched. Everyone was amazed and praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
Jesus went to the seashore again. Large crowds came to him, and he taught them.
When Jesus was leaving, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting in a tax office. Jesus said to him, "Follow me!" So Levi got up and followed him.
Later Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house. Many tax collectors and sinners who were followers of Jesus were eating with him and his disciples.
When the scribes who were Pharisees saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
When Jesus heard that, he said to them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor; those who are sick do. I've come to call sinners, not people who think they have God's approval."
John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came to Jesus and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the Pharisees' disciples fast, but your disciples don't?"
Jesus replied, "Can wedding guests fast while the groom is still with them? As long as they have the groom with them, they cannot fast.
But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast.
"No one patches an old coat with a new piece of cloth that will shrink. Otherwise, the new patch will shrink and rip away some of the old cloth, and the tear will become worse.
People don't pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the wine will make the skins burst, and both the wine and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine is to be poured into fresh skins."
Once on a day of worship Jesus was going through the grainfields. As the disciples walked along, they began to pick the heads of grain.
The Pharisees asked him, "Look! Why are your disciples doing something that is not permitted on the day of worship?"
Jesus asked them, "Haven't you ever read what David did when he and his men were in need and were hungry?
Haven't you ever read how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was chief priest and ate the bread of the presence? He had no right to eat those loaves. Only the priests have that right. Haven't you ever read how he also gave some of it to his men?"
Then he added, "The day of worship was made for people, not people for the day of worship.
For this reason the Son of Man has authority over the day of worship."
Jesus went into a synagogue again. A man who had a paralyzed hand was there.
The people were watching Jesus closely. They wanted to see whether he would heal the man on the day of worship so that they could accuse him of doing something wrong.
So he told the man with the paralyzed hand, "Stand in the center [of the synagogue]."
Then he asked them, "Is it right to do good or to do evil on the day of worship, to give a person back his health or to let him die?" But they were silent.
Jesus was angry as he looked around at them. He was deeply hurt because their minds were closed. Then he told the man, "Hold out your hand." The man held it out, and his hand became normal again.
The Pharisees left, and with Herod's followers they immediately plotted to kill Jesus.
Jesus left with his disciples for the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd from Galilee, Judea,
Jerusalem, Idumea, and from across the Jordan River, and from around Tyre and Sidon followed him. They came to him because they had heard about everything he was doing.
Jesus told his disciples to have a boat ready so that the crowd would not crush him.
He had cured so many that everyone with a disease rushed up to him in order to touch him.
Whenever people with evil spirits saw him, they would fall down in front of him and shout, "You are the Son of God!"
He gave them orders not to tell people who he was.
Jesus went up a mountain, called those whom he wanted, and they came to him.
He appointed twelve whom he called apostles. They were to accompany him and to be sent out by him to spread [the Good News].
They also had the authority to force demons out of people.
He appointed these twelve: Simon (whom Jesus named Peter),
James and his brother John (Zebedee's sons whom Jesus named Boanerges, which means "Thunderbolts"),
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot,
and Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed Jesus).
Then Jesus went home. Another crowd gathered so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat.
When his family heard about it, they went to get him. They said, "He's out of his mind!"
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, "Beelzebul is in him," and "He forces demons out of people with the help of the ruler of demons."
Jesus called them together and used this illustration: "How can Satan force out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last.
And if a household is divided against itself, that household will not last.
So if Satan rebels against himself and is divided, he cannot last. That will be the end of him.
"No one can go into a strong man's house and steal his property. First he must tie up the strong man. Then he can go through the strong man's house and steal his property.
"I can guarantee this truth: People will be forgiven for any sin or curse.
But whoever curses the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He is guilty of an everlasting sin."
Jesus said this because the scribes had said that he had an evil spirit.
Then his mother and his brothers arrived. They stood outside and sent someone to ask him to come out.
The crowd sitting around Jesus told him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you."
He replied to them, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
Then looking at those who sat in a circle around him, he said, "Look, here are my mother and my brothers.
Whoever does what God wants is my brother and sister and mother."