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!" 42
Instantly the leprosy disappeared -- the man was healed.
Then Jesus sent him on his way and told him sternly,
44"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."45
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.
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.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)