One day Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases.
Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
"Don't even take along a walking stick," he instructed them, "nor a traveler's bag, nor food, nor money. Not even an extra coat.
When you enter each village, be a guest in only one home.
If the people of the village won't receive your message when you enter it, shake off its dust from your feet as you leave. It is a sign that you have abandoned that village to its fate."
So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.
When reports of Jesus' miracles reached Herod Antipas, he was worried and puzzled because some were saying, "This is John the Baptist come back to life again."
Others were saying, "It is Elijah or some other ancient prophet risen from the dead."
"I beheaded John," Herod said, "so who is this man about whom I hear such strange stories?" And he tried to see him.
When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida.
But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. And he welcomed them, teaching them about the Kingdom of God and curing those who were ill.
Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, "Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this deserted place."
But Jesus said, "You feed them." "Impossible!" they protested. "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish. Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?"
For there were about five thousand men there. "Just tell them to sit down on the ground in groups of about fifty each," Jesus replied.
So the people all sat down.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people.
They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!
One day as Jesus was alone, praying, he came over to his disciples and asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
"Well," they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead."
Then he asked them, "Who do you say I am?" Peter replied, "You are the Messiah sent from God!"
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about this.
"For I, the Son of Man, must suffer many terrible things," he said. "I will be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. I will be killed, but three days later I will be raised from the dead."
Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.
If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.
And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?
If a person is ashamed of me and my message, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in my glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.
And I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see the Kingdom of God."
About eight days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain to pray.
And as he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothing became dazzling white.
Then two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus.
They were glorious to see. And they were speaking of how he was about to fulfill God's plan by dying in Jerusalem.
Peter and the others were very drowsy and had fallen asleep. Now they woke up and saw Jesus' glory and the two men standing with him.
As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, "Master, this is wonderful! We will make three shrines -- one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But even as he was saying this, a cloud came over them; and terror gripped them as it covered them.
Then a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him."
When the voice died away, Jesus was there alone. They didn't tell anyone what they had seen until long after this happened.
The next day, after they had come down the mountain, a huge crowd met Jesus.
A man in the crowd called out to him, "Teacher, look at my boy, who is my only son.
An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream. It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It is always hitting and injuring him. It hardly ever leaves him alone.
I begged your disciples to cast the spirit out, but they couldn't do it."
"You stubborn, faithless people," Jesus said, "how long must I be with you and put up with you? Bring him here."
As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father.
Awe gripped the people as they saw this display of God's power. While everyone was marveling over all the wonderful things he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples,
"Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed."
But they didn't know what he meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
Then there was an argument among them as to which of them would be the greatest.
But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side.
Then he said to them, "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest."
John said to Jesus, "Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons. We tried to stop him because he isn't in our group."
But Jesus said, "Don't stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you."
As the time drew near for his return to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival.
But they were turned away. The people of the village refused to have anything to do with Jesus because he had resolved to go to Jerusalem.
When James and John heard about it, they said to Jesus, "Lord, should we order down fire from heaven to burn them up?"
But Jesus turned and rebuked them.
So they went on to another village.
As they were walking along someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you no matter where you go."
But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head."
He said to another person, "Come, be my disciple." The man agreed, but he said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."
Jesus replied, "Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God."
Another said, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family."
But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."