Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3

1 While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called "the Baptizer," was preaching in the desert country of Judea. 2 His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: "Change your life. God's kingdom is here." 3 John and his message were authorized by Isaiah's prophecy: Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God's arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! 4 John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. 5 People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. 6 There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life. 7 When John realized that a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because it was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to make any difference? 8 It's your life that must change, not your skin! 9 And don't think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as father. Being a descendant of Abraham is neither here nor there. Descendants of Abraham are a dime a dozen. 10 What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it's deadwood, it goes on the fire. 11 "I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama - compared to him I'm a mere stagehand - will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. 12 He's going to clean house - make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned." 13 Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. 14 John objected, "I'm the one who needs to be baptized, not you!" 15 But Jesus insisted. "Do it. God's work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism." So John did it. 16 The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God's Spirit - it looked like a dove - descending and landing on him. 17 And along with the Spirit, a voice: "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life."
1 The good news of Jesus Christ - the Message! - begins here, 2 following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Watch closely: I'm sending my preacher ahead of you; He'll make the road smooth for you. 3 Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God's arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! 4 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. 5 People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. 6 John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey. 7 As he preached he said, "The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. 8 I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism - a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit - will change you from the inside out." 9 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God's Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. 11 Along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." 12 At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. 13 For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him. 14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: 15 "Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message." 16 Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. 17 Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." 18 They didn't ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed. 19 A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee's sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. 20 Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed. 21 Then they entered Capernaum. When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place. He spent the day there teaching. 22 They were surprised at his teaching - so forthright, so confident - not quibbling and quoting like the religion scholars. 23 Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, 24 "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!" 25 Jesus shut him up: "Quiet! Get out of him!" 26 The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly - and got out. 27 Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. "What's going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!" 28 News of this traveled fast and was soon all over Galilee. 29 Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew's house, accompanied by James and John. 30 Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. 31 He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them. 32 That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, 33 the whole city lined up at his door! 34 He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn't let them say a word. 35 While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. 36 Simon and those with him went looking for him. 37 They found him and said, "Everybody's looking for you." 38 Jesus said, "Let's go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I've come." 39 He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons. 40 A leper came to him, begging on his knees, "If you want to, you can cleanse me." 41 Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." 42 Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy. 43 Jesus dismissed him with strict orders: 44 "Say nothing to anyone. Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself to the priest. This will validate your healing to the people." 45 But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town. So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places, no longer able to move freely in and out of the city. But people found him, and came from all over.
1 In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius - it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; 2 during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas - John, Zachariah's son, out in the desert at the time, received a message from God. 3 He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, 4 as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet: Thunder in the desert! "Prepare God's arrival! Make the road smooth and straight! 5 Every ditch will be filled in, Every bump smoothed out, The detours straightened out, All the ruts paved over. 6 Everyone will be there to see The parade of God's salvation." 7 When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God's judgment? 8 It's your life that must change, not your skin. And don't think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as 'father.' Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there - children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. 9 What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it's deadwood, it goes on the fire." 10 The crowd asked him, "Then what are we supposed to do?" 11 "If you have two coats, give one away," he said. "Do the same with your food." 12 Tax men also came to be baptized and said, "Teacher, what should we do?" 13 He told them, "No more extortion - collect only what is required by law." 14 Soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He told them, "No shakedowns, no blackmail - and be content with your rations." 15 The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, "Could this John be the Messiah?" 16 But John intervened: "I'm baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. 17 He's going to clean house - make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned." 18 There was a lot more of this - words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! 19 But Herod, the ruler, stung by John's rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 20 capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail. 21 After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up 22 and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." Son of Adam, Son of God 23 When Jesus entered public life he was about thirty years old, the son (in public perception) of Joseph, who was - son of Heli, 24 son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, 25 son of Joseph, son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai, 26 son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda, 27 son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Neri, 28 son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er, 29 son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, 30 son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim, 31 son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David, 32 son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, son of Nahshon, 33 son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, 34 son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor, 35 son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah, 36 son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech, 37 son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan, 38 son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.