This is the beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Long ago Isaiah the prophet wrote, "I will send my messenger ahead of you. He will prepare your way." (Malachi 3:1)
"A messenger is calling out in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him.' " (Isaiah 40:3)
And so John came. He baptized people in the desert. He also preached that people should be baptized and turn away from their sins. Then God would forgive them.
All the people from the countryside of Judea went out to him. All the people from Jerusalem went too. When they admitted they had sinned, John baptized them in the Jordan River.
John wore clothes made out of camel's hair. He had a leather belt around his waist. And he ate locusts and wild honey.
Here is what John was preaching. "After me, one will come who is more powerful than I am. I'm not good enough to bend down and untie his sandals.
I baptize you with water. But he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. John baptized him in the Jordan River.
Jesus was coming up out of the water. Just then he saw heaven being torn open. He saw the Holy Spirit coming down on him like a dove.
A voice spoke to him from heaven. It said, "You are my Son, and I love you. I am very pleased with you."
At once the Holy Spirit sent Jesus out into the desert.
He was in the desert 40 days. There Satan tempted him. The wild animals didn't harm Jesus. Angels took care of him.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee. He preached God's good news.
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Turn away from your sins and believe the good news!"
One day Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. There he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake. They were fishermen.
"Come. Follow me," Jesus said. "I will make you fishers of people."
At once they left their nets and followed him.
Then Jesus walked a little farther. As he did, he saw James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat preparing their nets.
Right away he called out to them. They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men. Then they followed Jesus.
Jesus and those with him went to Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue. There he began to teach.
The people were amazed at his teaching. He taught them like one who had authority. He did not talk like the teachers of the law.
Just then a man in their synagogue cried out. He was controlled by an evil spirit. He said,
"What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the Holy One of God!"
"Be quiet!" said Jesus firmly. "Come out of him!"
The evil spirit shook the man wildly. Then it came out of him with a scream.
All the people were amazed. So they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching! And with so much authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits, and they obey him."
News about Jesus spread quickly all over Galilee.
Jesus and those with him left the synagogue. Right away they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.
Simon's mother-in-law was lying in bed. She had a fever. They told Jesus about her.
So he went to her. He took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her. Then she began to serve them.
That evening after sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who were sick. They also brought all who were controlled by demons.
All the people in town gathered at the door.
Jesus healed many of them. They had all kinds of sicknesses. He also drove out many demons. But he would not let the demons speak, because they knew who he was.
It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed.
Simon and his friends went to look for Jesus.
When they found him, they called out, "Everyone is looking for you!"
Jesus replied, "Let's go somewhere else. I want to go to the nearby towns. I must preach there also. That is why I have come."
So he traveled all around Galilee. He preached in their synagogues. He also drove out demons.
A man who had a skin disease came to Jesus. On his knees he begged Jesus. He said, "If you are willing to make me 'clean,' you can do it."
Jesus was filled with deep concern. He reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing to do it," he said. "Be 'clean'!"
Right away the disease left him. He was healed.
Jesus sent him away at once. He gave the man a strong warning.
"Don't tell this to anyone," he said. "Go and show yourself to the priest. Offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded. It will be a witness to the priest and the people that you are 'clean.' "
But the man went out and started talking right away. He spread the news to everyone. So Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. He stayed outside in lonely places. But people still came to him from everywhere.