Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild.
For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.
The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: "Since you're God's Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread."
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to really live."
For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once.
Then the Devil said, "They're yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I'm in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish.
Worship me and they're yours, the whole works."
Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: "Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness."
For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, "If you are God's Son, jump.
It's written, isn't it, that 'he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you;
they will catch you; you won't so much as stub your toe on a stone'?"
"Yes," said Jesus, "and it's also written, 'Don't you dare tempt the Lord your God.'"
That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.
Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside.
He taught in their meeting places to everyone's acclaim and pleasure.
He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read,
he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,
God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, "This is God's year to act!"
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent.
Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."
All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, "Isn't this Joseph's son, the one we've known since he was a youngster?"
He answered, "I suppose you're going to quote the proverb, 'Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.'
Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown.
Isn't it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land,
but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon?
And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian."
That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger.
They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom,
but he gave them the slip and was on his way.
He went down to Capernaum, a village in Galilee. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath.
They were surprised and impressed - his teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to.
In the meeting place that day there was a man demonically disturbed. He screamed,
"Ho! What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you're up to. You're the Holy One of God and you've come to destroy us!"
Jesus shut him up: "Quiet! Get out of him!" The demonic spirit threw the man down in front of them all and left. The demon didn't hurt him.
That set everyone back on their heels, whispering and wondering, "What's going on here? Someone whose words make things happen? Someone who orders demonic spirits to get out and they go?"
Jesus was the talk of the town.
He left the meeting place and went to Simon's house. Simon's mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her.
He stood over her, told the fever to leave - and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them.
When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to him. One by one he placed his hands on them and healed them.
Demons left in droves, screaming, "Son of God! You're the Son of God!" But he shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah.
He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking and, when they found him, clung to him so he couldn't go on.
He told them, "Don't you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God's kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?"
Meanwhile he continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)