Bible VersionsNLTMatthew 4:12-25; Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29; Matthew 8:1-34; Matthew 9:1-38; Matthew 10:1-42; Matthew 11:1-30; Matthew 12:1-50; Matthew 13:1-58; Matthew 14:1-12
Matthew 4:12-25; Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29; Matthew 8:1-34; Matthew 9:1-38; Matthew 10:1-42; Matthew 11:1-30; Matthew 12:1-50; Matthew 13:1-58; Matthew 14:1-12 (New Living Translation)
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
But instead of going to Nazareth, he went to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
This fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy:
"In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River -- in Galilee where so many Gentiles live --
the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined."
From then on, Jesus began to preach, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."18
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers -- Simon, also called Peter, and 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!"20
And they left their nets at once and went with him.
A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their nets. And he called them to come, too.
They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed people who had every kind of sickness and disease.
News about him spread far beyond the borders of Galilee so that the sick were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness and pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were epileptics, or were paralyzed -- he healed them all.
Large crowds followed him wherever he went -- people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River.
One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them.
This is what he taught them:
3"God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.4God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them. 6God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. 7God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 10God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. "
11"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."
13"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14You are the light of the world -- like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. 15Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. 16In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."
17"Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. 18I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. 19So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven."
20"But I warn you -- unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!"
21"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' 22But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell."
23"So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. 25Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. 26I assure you that you won't be free again until you have paid the last penny."
27"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29So if your eye -- even if it is your good eye -- causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your hand -- even if it is your stronger hand -- causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
31"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.' 32But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
33"Again, you have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' 34But I say, don't make any vows! If you say, 'By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. 35And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36Don't even swear, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black. 37Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong. "
38"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.' 39But I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. 40If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow."
43"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. 46If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
1"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do -- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. 4Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you."
5"And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you."
7"When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. 8Don't be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. 10May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. 11Give us our food for today, 12and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. "
14"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."
16"And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18Then no one will suspect you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in secret. And your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you."
19"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be."
22"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. 23But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!"
24"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
25"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life -- whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? 26Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not."
28"And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, 29yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!"
31"So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. 32Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, 33and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern."
34"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."
1"Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. 2For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. 3And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? 4How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."
6"Don't give what is holy to unholy people. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you."
7"Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 8For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. 9You parents -- if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."
12"Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets."
13"You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. 14But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it."
15"Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart. 16You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You don't pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles. 17A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. 19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced."
21"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. 22On judgment day many will tell me, 'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' 23But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.'"
24"Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock. 26But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash."28
After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,
for he taught as one who had real authority -- quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside.
Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Jesus. He knelt before him, worshiping. "Lord," the man said, "if you want to, you can make me well again."
Jesus touched him. "I want to," he said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Then Jesus said to him, "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."5
When Jesus arrived in Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him,
"Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and racked with pain."
Jesus said, "I will come and heal him."8
Then the officer said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed!
I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, 'Go,' and they go, or 'Come,' and they come. And if I say to my slaves, 'Do this or that,' they do it."
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd, he said, "I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all the land of Israel! 11And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.12But many Israelites -- those for whom the Kingdom was prepared -- will be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."13
Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go on home. What you have believed has happened." And the young servant was healed that same hour.
When Jesus arrived at Peter's house, Peter's mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever.
But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.
That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. All the spirits fled when he commanded them to leave; and he healed all the sick.
This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Isaiah, who said, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."
When Jesus noticed how large the crowd was growing, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.
Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go!"
But Jesus said, "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."21
Another of his disciples said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."
But Jesus told him, "Follow me now! Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead." 23
Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.
Suddenly, a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
And Jesus answered, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm.
The disciples just sat there in awe. "Who is this?" they asked themselves. "Even the wind and waves obey him!"
When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake in the land of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so dangerous that no one could go through that area.
They began screaming at him, "Why are you bothering us, Son of God? You have no right to torture us before God's appointed time!"
A large herd of pigs was feeding in the distance,
so the demons begged, "If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs."
32"All right, go!" Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
The herdsmen fled to the nearby city, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men.
The entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.
Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to his own town.
Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Take heart, son! Your sins are forgiven."3
"Blasphemy! This man talks like he is God!" some of the teachers of religious law said among themselves.
Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, "Why are you thinking such evil thoughts? 5Is it easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or 'Get up and walk'? 6I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!"7
And the man jumped up and went home!
Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen right before their eyes. They praised God for sending a man with such great authority.
As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. "Come, be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners.
The Pharisees were indignant. "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?" they asked his disciples.
When he heard this, Jesus replied, "Healthy people don't need a doctor -- sick people do." 13
Then he added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.' For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough."14
One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't fast?"
Jesus responded, "Should the wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Someday he will be taken from them, and then they will fast. 16And who would patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth? For the patch shrinks and pulls away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger hole than before. 17And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. The old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. That way both the wine and the wineskins are preserved."18
As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt down before him. "My daughter has just died," he said, "but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand upon her."
As Jesus and the disciples were going to the official's home,
a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,
for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."
Jesus turned around and said to her, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed at that moment.
When Jesus arrived at the official's home, he noticed the noisy crowds and heard the funeral music.
He said, "Go away, for the girl isn't dead; she's only asleep." But the crowd laughed at him.
When the crowd was finally outside, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!
The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.
After Jesus left the girl's home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, "Son of David, have mercy on us!"
They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, "Do you believe I can make you see?" "Yes, Lord," they told him, "we do."
Then he touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen." 30
And suddenly they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, "Don't tell anyone about this." 31
But instead, they spread his fame all over the region.
When they left, some people brought to him a man who couldn't speak because he was possessed by a demon.
So Jesus cast out the demon, and instantly the man could talk. The crowds marveled. "Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!" they exclaimed.
But the Pharisees said, "He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons."
Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness.
He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn't know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd.
He said to his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. 38So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields."
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.
Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter's brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James's brother),
Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus,
Simon (the Zealot ), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
Jesus sent the twelve disciples out with these instructions: "Don't go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6but only to the people of Israel -- God's lost sheep. 7Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!"
9"Don't take any money with you. 10Don't carry a traveler's bag with an extra coat and sandals or even a walking stick. Don't hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. 11Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy man and stay in his home until you leave for the next town. 12When you are invited into someone's home, give it your blessing. 13If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. 14If a village doesn't welcome you or listen to you, shake off the dust of that place from your feet as you leave. 15I assure you, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off on the judgment day than that place will be."
16"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves. 17But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. 18And you must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me -- yes, to witness to the world. 19When you are arrested, don't worry about what to say in your defense, because you will be given the right words at the right time. 20For it won't be you doing the talking -- it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
21"Brother will betray brother to death, fathers will betray their own children, and children will rise against their parents and cause them to be killed. 22And everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me. But those who endure to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I assure you that I, the Son of Man, will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel."
24"A student is not greater than the teacher. A servant is not greater than the master. 25The student shares the teacher's fate. The servant shares the master's fate. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, how much more will it happen to you, the members of the household! 26But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. 27What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ears, shout from the housetops for all to hear!"
28"Don't be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows."
32"If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. 33But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven."
34"Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. 35I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36Your enemies will be right in your own household! 37If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it."
40"Anyone who welcomes you is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me. 41If you welcome a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will receive the same reward a prophet gets. And if you welcome good and godly people because of their godliness, you will be given a reward like theirs. 42And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded."
When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went off teaching and preaching in towns throughout the country.
John the Baptist, who was now in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus,
"Are you really the Messiah we've been waiting for, or should we keep looking for someone else?"
Jesus told them, "Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen -- 5the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6And tell him: 'God blesses those who are not offended by me.'"7
When John's disciples had gone, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. "Who is this man in the wilderness that you went out to see? Did you find him weak as a reed, moved by every breath of wind? 8Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? Those who dress like that live in palaces, not out in the wilderness. 9Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, 'Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way before you.' "
11"I assure you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12And from the time John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it. 13For before John came, all the teachings of the Scriptures looked forward to this present time. 14And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. 15Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"
16"How shall I describe this generation? These people are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, 17'We played wedding songs, and you weren't happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren't sad.' 18For John the Baptist didn't drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, 'He's demon possessed.' 19And I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, 'He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!' But wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it."20
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities where he had done most of his miracles, because they hadn't turned from their sins and turned to God.
21"What horrors await you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have sat in deep repentance long ago, clothed in sackcloth and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 22I assure you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on the judgment day than you! 23And you people of Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. 24I assure you, Sodom will be better off on the judgment day than you."25
Then Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. 26Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!"
27"My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."28
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light."
At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off heads of wheat and eating the grain.
Some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, "Your disciples shouldn't be doing that! It's against the law to work by harvesting grain on the Sabbath."
But Jesus said to them, "Haven't you ever read in the Scriptures what King David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He went into the house of God, and they ate the special bread reserved for the priests alone. That was breaking the law, too. 5And haven't you ever read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? 6I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! 7But you would not have condemned those who aren't guilty if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.' 8For I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath."9
Then he went over to the synagogue,
where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it legal to work by healing on the Sabbath day?" (They were, of course, hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)
And he answered, "If you had one sheep, and it fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you get to work and pull it out? Of course you would. 12And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, it is right to do good on the Sabbath." 13
Then he said to the man, "Reach out your hand." The man reached out his hand, and it became normal, just like the other one.
Then the Pharisees called a meeting and discussed plans for killing Jesus.
But Jesus knew what they were planning. He left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them,
but he warned them not to say who he was.
This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him:
"Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, and I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout; he will not raise his voice in public.
He will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory.
And his name will be the hope of all the world."
Then a demon-possessed man, who was both blind and unable to talk, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see.
The crowd was amazed. "Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?" they wondered out loud.
But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, "No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons."
Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, "Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed. A city or home divided against itself is doomed. 26And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. 27And if I am empowered by the prince of demons, what about your own followers? They cast out demons, too, so they will judge you for what you have said. 28But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. 29Let me illustrate this. You can't enter a strong man's house and rob him without first tying him up. Only then can his house be robbed! 30Anyone who isn't helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me.31"Every sin or blasphemy can be forgiven -- except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which can never be forgiven. 32Anyone who blasphemes against me, the Son of Man, can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.33"A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad. 34You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. 36And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. 37The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned."38
One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove that you are from God."
But Jesus replied, "Only an evil, faithless generation would ask for a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41The people of Nineveh will rise up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And now someone greater than Jonah is here -- and you refuse to repent. 42The queen of Sheba will also rise up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, because she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. And now someone greater than Solomon is here -- and you refuse to listen to him.43"When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44Then it says, 'I will return to the person I came from.' So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and clean. 45Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation."46
As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers were outside, wanting to talk with him.
Someone told Jesus, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you."
Jesus asked, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" 49
Then he pointed to his disciples and said, "These are my mother and brothers. 50Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!"
Later that same day, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore,
where an immense crowd soon gathered. He got into a boat, where he sat and taught as the people listened on the shore.
He told many stories such as this one:"A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, 6but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. 7Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades. 8But some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. 9Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"10
His disciples came and asked him, "Why do you always tell stories when you talk to the people?"
Then he explained to them, "You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. 12To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. 13That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear, and they don't understand. 14This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: 'You will hear my words, but you will not understand; you will see what I do, but you will not perceive its meaning. 15For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes -- so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.' 16"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17I assure you, many prophets and godly people have longed to see and hear what you have seen and heard, but they could not.18"Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: 19The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don't understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. 20The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. 21But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. 22The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. 23The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God's message and produce a huge harvest -- thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted."24
Here is another story Jesus told: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25But that night as everyone slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. 26When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. 27The farmer's servants came and told him, 'Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds!'28"'An enemy has done it!' the farmer exclaimed."'Shall we pull out the weeds?' they asked.29"He replied, 'No, you'll hurt the wheat if you do. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.'"31
Here is another illustration Jesus used: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants and grows into a tree where birds can come and find shelter in its branches."33
Jesus also used this illustration: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast used by a woman making bread. Even though she used a large amount of flour, the yeast permeated every part of the dough."34
Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.
This fulfilled the prophecy that said, "I will speak to you in parables. I will explain mysteries hidden since the creation of the world."
Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, "Please explain the story of the weeds in the field."
37"All right," he said. "I, the Son of Man, am the farmer who plants the good seed. 38The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.40"Just as the weeds are separated out and burned, so it will be at the end of the world. 41I, the Son of Man, will send my angels, and they will remove from my Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, 42and they will throw them into the furnace and burn them. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the godly will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!44"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field -- and to get the treasure, too!45"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a pearl merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!47"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that is thrown into the water and gathers fish of every kind. 48When the net is full, they drag it up onto the shore, sit down, sort the good fish into crates, and throw the bad ones away. 49That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the godly, 50throwing the wicked into the fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51Do you understand?" "Yes," they said, "we do."
Then he added, "Every teacher of religious law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a person who brings out of the storehouse the new teachings as well as the old."53
When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he left that part of the country.
He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was astonished and said, "Where does he get his wisdom and his miracles?
He's just a carpenter's son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers -- James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.
All his sisters live right here among us. What makes him so great?"
And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family." 58
And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
When Herod Antipas heard about Jesus,
he said to his advisers, "This must be John the Baptist come back to life again! That is why he can do such miracles."
For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod's brother Philip).
John kept telling Herod, "It is illegal for you to marry her."
Herod would have executed John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias's daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him,
so he promised with an oath to give her anything she wanted.
At her mother's urging, the girl asked, "I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!"
The king was sorry, but because of his oath and because he didn't want to back down in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders.
So John was beheaded in the prison,
and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.
John's disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they told Jesus what had happened.
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)