Here begins the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
In the book of the prophet Isaiah, God said, "Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way.
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness: 'Prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming! Make a straight road for him!'"
This messenger was John the Baptist. He lived in the wilderness and was preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
People from Jerusalem and from all over Judea traveled out into the wilderness to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.
His clothes were woven from camel hair, and he wore a leather belt; his food was locusts and wild honey.
He announced: "Someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am -- so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave.
I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!"
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and he was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
And when Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on him.
And a voice came from heaven saying, "You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you."
Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness.
He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
Later on, after John was arrested by Herod Antipas, Jesus went to Galilee to preach God's Good News.
"At last the time has come!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!"
One day as Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen.
Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!"
And they left their nets at once and went with him.
A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee's sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets.
He called them, too, and immediately they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men and went with him.
Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum, and every Sabbath day he went into the synagogue and taught the people.
They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority -- quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
A man possessed by an evil spirit was in the synagogue,
and he began shouting, "Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are -- the Holy One sent from God!"
Jesus cut him short. "Be silent! Come out of the man."
At that, the evil spirit screamed and threw the man into a convulsion, but then he left him.
Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. "What sort of new teaching is this?" they asked excitedly. "It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!"
The news of what he had done spread quickly through that entire area of Galilee.
After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they went over to Simon and Andrew's home, and James and John were with them.
Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away.
He went to her bedside, and as he took her by the hand and helped her to sit up, the fever suddenly left, and she got up and prepared a meal for them.
That evening at sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus.
And a huge crowd of people from all over Capernaum gathered outside the door to watch.
So Jesus healed great numbers of sick people who had many different kinds of diseases, and he ordered many demons to come out of their victims. But because they knew who he was, he refused to allow the demons to speak.
The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.
Later Simon and the others went out to find him.
They said, "Everyone is asking for you."
But he replied, "We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came."
So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling demons from many people.
A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. "If you want to, you can make me well again," he said.
Moved with pity, Jesus touched him. "I want to," he said. "Be healed!"
Instantly the leprosy disappeared -- the man was healed.
Then Jesus sent him on his way and told him sternly,
"Go right over to the priest and let him examine you. Don't talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing."
But as the man went on his way, he spread the news, telling everyone what had happened to him. As a result, such crowds soon surrounded Jesus that he couldn't enter a town anywhere publicly. He had to stay out in the secluded places, and people from everywhere came to him there.