Jesus’ Early Years
Eyewitness reports (1.1)
This is the record of the life of Jesus, the Son of God, who came from heaven; he was the Messiah and was sent by God. And it’s good news for all people. (Messiah means ‘chosen one’.)
(The record of Jesus’ life is in the Bible. Four men, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, helped by others who were close to Jesus. wrote down the important events in his life. Luke was writing for a friend, and this is how he began: ‘A number of people have written down many of the things that Jesus said and did. Also, those who were with Jesus have told them to me. So using what I have read and heard, I made a careful study of his life and have written it down in the order that the events took place. In this way you can be sure of what you have been told. So from the time Jesus began his work on earth until he went back to heaven, what he said and did is here for you to read.’)
A surprised couple (1.2)
The record of Jesus’ life begins at the time when Herod was king of Judea, the southern part of Israel. (In 63BCE, an army from Rome invaded Israel, and the nation came under its control. Jesus was born about sixty years after this, and the Romans were allowing Herod to be king over the Judea area. The most important city in Israel was Jerusalem; it had a large temple where the Jewish people worshiped God.)
One of the priests who helped in the temple was a man named Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth obeyed the laws God had given to the Jewish people, and were careful to do all that was right. But they had never been able to have children, and by now both were quite old.
The time came once more for Zechariah to serve as a priest in the temple, and so he made the journey from his home town to Jerusalem. One day he was in the temple at the time when he would burn incense on the altar, the place where prayer was made, while the people were outside praying. Suddenly an angel from God appeared, standing at the right-hand side of the altar.
Zechariah was surprised and frightened, and the angel said, “Don’t be afraid; God has sent me to you. He has heard the prayer you have prayed for so long; your wife will have a baby. It will be a boy, and you are to call him John. He will give you both much joy, and many will be glad that he was born. He will be a man who is great in God’s sight; even before he is born he will be filled with God’s Spirit. And he is never to take wine or other alcoholic drink. He will speak to the people with words from God, and many in Israel will turn back to God before the Messiah, the Lord of heaven, comes. He will be like Elijah, the man in the past who lived fully for God and spoke with his power.1 Parents will once again teach their children to love and obey God, and others who have turned away from him will listen to those who do what is right. Your son will make people ready for the coming of the Lord of heaven.”
Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? My wife and I are too old to have children.”
The angel said, “I am Gabriel and I stand in the presence of God in heaven; he has sent me to tell you this wonderful news. But because you didn’t believe what I said, you will be unable to speak until your son is born. All I have told you will take place at the time God has chosen.” Then the angel left.
While this was taking place, the people were waiting outside the temple and they wondered why Zechariah was taking so long. When he came out to them he found that he couldn’t speak. He was making signs with his hands, and they knew he had seen something important from God.
When the time for Zechariah’s work at the temple came to an end he returned home, and soon after this Elizabeth became pregnant. She said to Zechariah, “God has made this possible. He has been kind to me, and now I will be a mother like other women.” And for the next five months she stayed quietly at home.
A surprised young woman (1.3)
Six months after Elizabeth became pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee, the northern part of Israel. Her name was Mary, and she was promised in marriage to Joseph, a man from King David’s family line. (David had been Israel’s greatest king, about a thousand years before this time.2)
The angel came to Mary and spoke to her, and then said, “You are greatly favoured! The God of heaven is with you.” Mary was very surprised at these words and wondered what they could mean.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has looked on you with favour. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be a truly great man and be called the Son of the Most High God. And God will give him the kingdom that David had; he will be the true ruler of the Jewish people, and his kingdom will never end.”
Mary said, “How will this happen? I have never been with a man.”
The angel said, “The Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, will come upon you and the power of God will be over you. And so the holy one who is born will be called the Son of God. There is something else I will tell you; Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a baby. She is long past the age of having children, and people have said she couldn’t have them, but she is now six months pregnant. God has spoken, and no word of his will ever fail.”
Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be for me as you have said.” Then the angel left.
And soon after this Mary became pregnant, just as she had been told.
A family visit (1.4)
When Mary heard about Elizabeth’s baby, she decided to go and see her, so she made the journey to the hill country of Judea where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived. And when Mary went into to the house and spoke to her, there was much movement of Elizabeth’s baby within her.
Elizabeth was then filled with the Holy Spirit and she cried out: “Mary, God has been wonderfully good to you; he has blessed you more than any other woman, and his blessing will be on the baby you have! And he has been so good to me; the mother of my Lord has come to visit me. At the moment you spoke, my baby was moving with joy. God’s blessing is on you because you believed the angel, that God would bring about what he promised you.”
And Mary spoke these words from God: “From the depths of my heart I say how great is the God of heaven and earth, and my spirit within cries out and says how wonderful is
God my Saviour, for he has seen a lowly person like me. From now on all people will say how good God has been to me; the Mighty God has done great things for me – his Name is holy. His loving kindness goes out to all who fear and honour him, from one generation to the next. Our God is strong and powerful; he sweeps aside those whose hearts are proud and makes great leaders fall; but he is good to those who are humble, whose hearts are open to him. He cares for the needy and gives them what is good, but has nothing for those who live only for riches. And he has come to the help of Israel, the people who serve him. He has not forgotten his promise to Abraham and those after him, to show kindness forever to all who would come from him.”3 (Abraham lived two thousand years before this time, and was a man who trusted in God and obeyed him. God had told Abraham that from him would come a nation of people who would worship and serve him.4)
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, and then she returned to Nazareth.
John is born (1.5)
Soon after this, Elizabeth’s baby was born and it was a boy, as the angel had said. Her neighbours and family saw how kind God had been, and they were just as happy as she was. Eight days after he was born he was circumcised, as required by the Jewish religious laws.5 (Circumcision is the cutting off of the loose skin of the penis, and was done by a priest.)
This was the time for the baby to be named, and those who were there wanted to call him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth quickly said, “No! He will be called John.” They said no-one in the family had that name, and asked Zechariah what he wanted. He still couldn’t speak from when the angel appeared to him and had to write it down, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” The moment Zechariah wrote those words he began to speak, and was praising and thanking God for their son.
Zechariah, too, was now filled with the Holy Spirit, and he spoke these words from God: “Praise to the God of Israel; he has come to the help of his people. Someone is coming to save us, a man from David’s line, just as our leaders were told long ago.6 God promised Abraham he would protect us from those against us so we could serve him in peace, and live our days in the way that is holy and right. 7”
Then Zechariah said this: “And you, my son, will be a man who speaks to people with words from God. They will open their heart to God and ask him to forgive their sins; you will make people ready for the coming of the Lord of heaven. Our God has been so kind and good to us. The light from heaven will come, to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, and to show us the way that leads to peace.”
The people in the town and surrounding countryside were amazed by all that had taken place. They knew it was from God, and everyone was asking, “What kind of man will this baby be?”
As John grew up he was a man who was strong within, and God was with him. Later he left his parents’ home and went to live in the wild and lonely part of Judea. And he stayed there until the time came to do the work God had given him.
A difficult decision (1.6)
When Mary returned to Nazareth, she was more than three months pregnant. Mary was to marry Joseph but they had not begun their life together, and she told him what the angel had said, that she would have a baby through the Holy Spirit.
When Joseph heard this he wasn’t sure what to do. He was a man who did what was right, and didn’t want Mary to suffer shame because she was pregnant. But because of what she had said, he wondered if it would be better to quietly end their plans for marriage.
While he was still thinking this over, an angel from God came to him in a dream one night and said, “Joseph, don’t be concerned about taking Mary to be your wife; the baby she has is from the Holy Spirit. It will be a boy and you are to give him the name Jesus; he will save his people from their sins.” (The name Jesus means ‘he saves’.)
Many years before this, a prophet had spoken these words from God: ‘A young woman will become pregnant and have a son. And it will be just as the name Immanuel means: ‘God is with us.’’8 (A prophet was someone who spoke words from God for people to hear. Many of the words of the prophets were written down and are in the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible.)
When Joseph woke from his sleep he did as the angel had told him. He took Mary to his home as his wife, but they did not begin their sexual relationship until after the baby had been born.
Jesus is born (1.7)
At this time, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, had given an order that a count was to be taken of all people living under Roman rule. Everyone had to go to the place where their family line began, for their names to be recorded there. This meant that Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was from King David’s line, and this was the town that David came from.
So Joseph and Mary left Nazareth and made the journey to Bethlehem; by now it was almost time for the baby to be born. When they arrived, they went to the place where trav- ellers stayed but there was no room for them, and they had to sleep where animals such as cows and donkeys were kept. And it was there that the baby was born. Mary wrapped her baby in pieces of cloth and put him in a manger, a feed-box for the animals.
Some visitors arrive (1.8)
At the same time as this, some men were out in the coun- tryside near Bethlehem, looking after their sheep through the night. Suddenly out of the darkness an angel from God appeared, and the brightness and glory of God shone round them. The men didn’t know what was happening and were terrified.
The angel said to them, “Don’t be frightened; I have wonderful news that will bring great joy to all the people. This day in Bethlehem your Saviour has been born; he is the Messiah, the Lord. And this is how you will know who he is: he will be wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feed-box.”
Then a great number of angels appeared in the sky, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in heaven above, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
When the angels had gone back to heaven, the men said to one another, “We will go to Bethlehem and see this baby that God has told us about.” So they hurried off and went into the town and found Mary and Joseph, with the baby lying in a feed-box.
After they had seen him, they told everyone they met about the baby and the words of the angel, and people were amazed at what they said. Then the men went back to their sheep, praising and thanking God for what they had seen and heard that night. And Mary quietly thought about her baby and the wonderful thing that God had done. Then eight days after he was born, he was circumcised and given the name Jesus, the name the angel said he was to be called.
So this is the record of Jesus’ birth. He grew up as the son of Joseph and Mary, and his family line was known for several thousand years, as far back as Abraham. And before Abraham there were others whose names were known, right back to Adam, the first man, whom God created.9
Jesus taken to the temple (1.9)
Soon after this, Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to take their baby to the temple. They were following the Jewish religious law that said the first boy in a family was to be given to God, to serve him.10 They were also bringing an offering to God, which was to be either two doves or two young pigeons.11
Living in Jerusalem at that time was an old man named Simeon. He worshiped God with all his heart and constantly prayed, asking him to come to the help of Israel; and God’s Spirit was on him. And the Spirit had told him that before he died he would see the Messiah, come from God.
On the day that Mary and Joseph went to the temple, Simeon was there, prompted by the Spirit. When they came into the temple, Simeon took the baby in his arms and he was praising God and said: “God of heaven and Lord of all, you promised me this, and now I can die in peace; I have seen the one who has come to save us. All people will see what you have done; this light from heaven will show other nations your ways and your truth, and bring glory to your people, Israel.”
Mary and Joseph were amazed at what Simeon was saying. Then he prayed, asking God to bless them, and he spoke these words to Mary: “This baby will cause the people of Israel to either accept or reject what God has done. If they are against your son they will be against God himself, and what is in their hearts will then be known. And you his mother will have great agony of heart because of what is done to him.”
As Simeon was saying this, an old lady called Anna came into the temple. She had been a widow for a long time and was a prophet, speaking words from God. She was at the temple day and night, praying and worshiping God, and often fasted to give herself fully to God when she prayed.
When she saw Mary and Joseph, she immediately went up to them and was thanking God for their baby. Then she quickly left to tell others about him, those who constantly prayed for the Jewish people to be free.
When Mary and Joseph had done everything required by the religious laws, they left Jerusalem and went back to Nazareth. And after a time they returned to Bethlehem.
Some unexpected visitors (1.10)
Some time after this, some men from a country to the east of Israel came to Jerusalem; these were men who studied the stars. When they arrived in the city they were asking people, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of Israel? We saw a new star when it rose in the sky, and we know it is to announce his birth. We have come here to worship him.”
When the people of Jerusalem heard this, they wondered what it could mean. Then Herod the king was told what the men were saying and he was worried. He called the religious leaders and teachers together and said to them, “Tell me, where will the Messiah be born?”
They said, “It will be in Bethlehem, in Judea. A prophet has spoken these words from God: ‘Bethlehem, you are only a small town but one day you will be very important; from you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people, Israel.”12
Herod then asked the men to see him secretly, and he found out when they had first seen the star. He told them to go to Bethlehem to look for the child and said, “As soon as you find him, come back and tell me so I can worship him, too.”
So the men left the city, and as they went on their way the star rose in the night sky ahead of them. When they came to Bethlehem, they were overjoyed to see it above the house they were to go to, and when they went inside they saw the little boy there with Mary. They knelt down and gave him gifts of gold, spices and costly perfume.
Then the men left Bethlehem, but they didn’t go back to Jerusalem. God had warned them in a dream not to go to Herod, and they returned to their country by another way.
A cruel king (1.11)
When Herod realised that the men were not coming he was very angry because he had planned to kill the little boy. They had told the king when the star first appeared, and he gave an order that every boy two years of age and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding area was to be killed. And this was as a prophet had said: ‘There will be crying and great sadness in Israel; mothers will cry for their children. And they won’t be comforted because their children are dead.’13
But before this terrible thing took place, one night an angel from God appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up and take your wife and child away from here; Herod is looking for your son to kill him. Go to Egypt and stay there until you are told to come back.” Joseph did what the angel had said, and that night he took his wife and child and left Bethlehem. And they kept travelling until they came to Egypt.
Some time after this Herod died, and an angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get ready and take your wife and child back to Israel. The man who wanted to kill your son is dead.” So Joseph and Mary took their child and left Egypt. And this was as a prophet had said: ‘From out of Egypt I have called my son.’14
When they returned to Israel and came to Judea, they heard that Herod’s son was king in charge of that area, and Joseph was afraid to go any further. He was then told in a dream not to go back there, and they went on to Nazareth, in Galilee. It was here that the family lived, and because of this, Jesus would be known as a Nazarene.
As Jesus grew up as a boy, he knew and understood the things that were right, and God was with him.
Jesus stays behind in the temple (1.12)
Once a year, the religious celebration called Passover was held in Jerusalem. This was an important occasion for Jewish people, and Mary and Joseph always went to it.
In the year that Jesus turned twelve, the family again made the journey to Jerusalem to go to the Passover. When the celebrations were over, Mary and Joseph left to go home but their boy was nowhere to be seen. They weren’t worried because they thought he was with others. But after travel- ling for a day they still hadn’t seen him, and were looking for him among their family and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem.
Three days had now passed, and when Mary and Joseph went to the temple they found him there. He was sitting with the teachers of the Jewish religion, listening to them and asking them questions. The teachers were amazed at the boy’s understanding and the answers he gave.
His parents could hardly believe what they were seeing, and Mary said, “Son, why did you do this to us? Your father and I were very worried; we didn’t know where you were.”
Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? I would only be here, where my Father is worshiped.” At the time they didn’t understand what he meant.
Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents, and as their son he obeyed them. And Mary often thought about all that God had done.
As Jesus became a man, he grew further in knowledge and understanding of what was right. He was liked by the people in the town, and he pleased God in every way.
John begins to preach (2.1)
The next part of the record of Jesus’ life begins when he was about thirty years old. (He was still living in Nazareth.)
All this time Israel continued to be under Roman rule. Tiberius Caesar had been the Roman emperor for fifteen years; and the Roman governor of the Judea area was Pontius Pilate. The king in charge of the Galilee area was another Herod, from the same family as the Herod who had tried to kill Jesus when he was a small boy. The high priest of the Jewish people had been Annas, and now it was Caiaphas.
For some years John had been living in the wild and lonely part of Judea. He wore rough clothes made from camel’s hair with a leather belt tied round his waist. His food was simple and he ate locusts and wild honey. And while he was there God told him to begin the work he was to do.
John then began preaching the message God had given him, and wherever he went he would call out, telling people, “Repent! Turn from your sins and follow God’s way! The kingdom of God has come near to you; open your heart for him to rule!”
Many years before, the prophet Isaiah had spoken these words from God: ‘I will send someone with a message from me; he will make people ready for when the Messiah comes. A man living in the wild and lonely area will be calling out, “The Lord of heaven is coming; be ready for when he comes! Anything in the way must go! Every heart must be open to him! All will see the one who will save us!’’’1
John then went through the countryside round the Jordan River and he came to a town near the river. Again he was telling the people to open their heart to God for him to forgive their sins. And those who did this were baptised in the river. (John baptised people by standing in the river with the person, placing them under the water and bringing them up again. In this way the person showed that they were washing themselves of their old life and beginning a new life with God.)
People come to John (2.2)
John continued to preach and baptise at the Jordan River, and the news of what he was doing began to spread. People from the surrounding area and all over Judea, including Jerusalem, were now coming to hear what he was saying. And those who were asking God to forgive their sins, were baptised in the river.
John saw that religious leaders had come, and he said to them, “You snakes, why are you here? Do you think you can escape God’s anger, and the punishment that’s coming to you? If you want to turn from your sins, change the way that you live. And don’t say to yourselves, ‘We don’t have to do this; we come from Abraham and are God’s people.’ I tell you, that means nothing! If God wanted to, he could make the stones on the ground into people like that. A tree without fruit is cut down and burnt, and God has begun to use his axe; those with lives that produce nothing for him will be cut down and thrown into the fire!”
When the people heard these words, they said to John, “What then should we be doing?” He said, “Show kindness; if you have more clothes than you need, give them to others. If you have plenty of food, give some to those who don’t have enough.”
Men who collected taxes were coming to John and being baptised, and they asked him, “What about us? What do we have to do?” John replied, “Don’t take more than you have to.” (The tax collectors worked for the Romans, and often made people pay more than was required and kept the extra for themselves.)
Even Roman soldiers had come and they were asking, “And what should we be doing?” John told them, “Don’t accuse people and threaten them so you’ll get money; be satisfied with the pay you’re given.”
The people were now wondering if John could be the Messiah, and they were waiting to see what else he would say.
He told them, “I tell you to turn from your sins, and baptize with water. But someone far greater than me is coming; I’m not good enough even to touch his feet. He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire; with his baptism you will be filled with God’s Spirit and his power. And at the end of the world he will separate those who are his from those who are not; all against him will be thrown into the fire that never goes out. I tell you, he is the one you must be looking for!”
And John kept telling people the good news that the Messiah was coming, and to be ready for him.
Jesus is baptised (2.3)
While John was at the Jordan River, Jesus was still at Nazareth, in Galilee. He now left his home town and went to John to be baptised by him.
John knew that this man was unlike anyone else who had come and he said, “You have come to me, but I should be baptised by you.”
Jesus said to him, “This is how it must be, for us to do all that is right.”
So John took Jesus and baptised him in the river. When Jesus came up out of the water he was praying and as he looked up he saw heaven open wide, and God’s Spirit with a human form came down like a dove and settled on him.
Then there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; you have pleased me very much.”
And from that time, Jesus began doing the work God gave him to do.
Satan tempts Jesus (2.4)
Jesus was now filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit immediately sent him into a wild and lonely part of Judea, for Satan to tempt him. And while he was there Satan would do everything he could to make him do wrong. (All that is evil and against God comes from Satan, and he is the leader of the evil spirits throughout the world. He had been an important angel in heaven; he was beautiful in appearance, had much knowledge, and was near to God. But he became proud and rebelled against God, and so he and the angels who followed him were expelled from heaven. At the final judgement of all who are against God, Satan and his evil spirits will be thrown into a lake of fire, to be there forever.2)
Jesus was in that wilderness for forty days, and no-one was with him except wild animals. And Satan kept coming to tempt him, trying to make him do wrong. During that time, he ate nothing and became very hungry.
Then once more Satan came to Jesus and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell the stones on the ground to become bread.”
Jesus replied, “It is written: ‘People do not live on bread alone; they must take in every word that God has said.’”3 (As before, this was from the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible.)
Satan then used his powers and took Jesus to Jerusalem and placed him on the highest part of the temple, far above the ground below. Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. It is written: ‘God will tell his angels to watch over you; if you fall they will hold you, and no harm will come to you.’”4
Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’”5
Finally, Satan took Jesus to the top of a high mountain where the surrounding countries could be seen. He said, “You can have everything you can see. All the power and wealth there belongs to me, and I can give it to anyone I choose. If you worship me, it will be yours.”
Jesus said, “Get away from me, Satan! It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”6
Jesus’ time in the wilderness then came to an end, and Satan had tried everything he could to make him do wrong. After that he left him, to try again when the time was right. Angels came to be with Jesus, and he went back to the Jordan River.
Religious leaders ask questions (2.5)
More and more people were coming to John and being baptised, and the religious leaders in Jerusalem sent a number of priests and others who helped in the temple to find out about him.
They came to John and asked him, “Who are you? And what is this that you are doing?”
Straight away he told them, “I’m not the Messiah, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
They said, “Who are you then? Are you Elijah, come back to life?” John said, “No, I’m not Elijah.”
Then they said, “Are you the prophet whom God promised to send?”7 Again John said, “No.”
“Tell us who you are,” they asked. “Give us an answer so we can tell those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John then used the words of the prophet Isaiah and said, “I am the one in the wilderness calling out, ‘The Lord of heaven is coming; be ready for when he comes.’”
Some of those who came were Pharisees, an important religious group, and they said, “If you’re not the Messiah or Elijah or the prophet from God, why are you baptising people?”
John said to them, “You know I baptise with water, but there is someone here whom you know nothing about. He came after I did, but is far greater than me. I tell you, I’m not good enough even to touch his feet.”
John speaks about Jesus (2.6)
The next day John was speaking to the people, and he saw Jesus coming along the road. He said to them, “Look, there is the Lamb of God! He will take away the sins of the world.”
(When God gave his laws to the Jewish people, he said that if someone had sinned and wanted their wrongdoing forgiven, the person had to bring a lamb to a priest; the lamb was to be perfect, free of any marks. The priest would take the lamb to the altar and place his hand on the lamb; and by doing that the person’s sin would be placed on to the lamb. The priest would then kill the lamb and pour its blood over the altar. And the blood that came from the lamb would be the payment that took away the person’s sin as an offence against God, and make them right with him once more.8
God had now sent his Son from heaven to be the ‘lamb’. Jesus was perfect in every way; he was without sin. But the religious leaders would be against him, and he would be arrested and falsely accused and put on a cross to die. There God would take the wrongdoing of all people, every sin ever committed, and he would place all sin on to his Son; Jesus would be ‘made sin’ for people to be ‘clean’ in God’s eyes. And the blood that came from Jesus would be the payment that took away a person’s every sin as an offence against God, for them to be right with God.
It would be as if someone had committed a crime and they were in court facing a judge. But the judge then went and stood in the person’s place, and the charge of wrongdoing was transferred to him. Now the judge would be the one who was found guilty and had to pay for the crime. The person would then leave the court free of any charge, and with the penalty paid. It would be as if their wrongdoing had never occurred, and any record torn up and thrown away.
Jesus would die on a cross as God’s ‘lamb’, for people to be forever ‘clean’ in God’s eyes and right with him.9)
Then John said to the people, “He is the one I spoke about when I said that someone far greater than me would come; he was before me. I didn’t know him when I began to preach and baptise, but the reason I do this is for the people of Israel to see that he is the one who has come from God.”
And he told them, “When I was living in the desert, God spoke to me and said, ‘You will see the Holy Spirit come down on to a man; he will baptise with the Spirit, for people to be filled with the Spirit.’ At first I didn’t know who he would be, but when I baptised him I saw God’s Spirit come down like a dove and settle on him. I know what I have seen and I tell you, this man is God’s Chosen One come from heaven.”
Three men talk with Jesus (2.7)
The next day John was with two of his followers, Andrew and another man. He saw Jesus going past and again he said, “There he is, the Lamb of God!”
The two men wanted to know more, and they followed Jesus down the road. He turned round and said to them, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (Rabbi means ‘teacher’, a term of respect.)
Jesus said, “Come and I’ll show you.” So they went with him; it was now about four o’clock in the afternoon.
Andrew quickly went to find his brother, Simon. He told him, “We’ve found the Messiah.” And he took him to Jesus.
When Jesus saw him he said, “Your name is Simon, but you will be called Peter.” (The name Peter means ‘a rock’. And later he would be like a rock, a strong leader of those who followed Jesus.)
The three men spent the rest of the day with Jesus, listening to all he said.
Two more men talk with Jesus (2.8)
The following day Jesus left the Jordan River to return to Galilee. The men who had been with him the day before were also from that area, and they went with him. And the power of the Spirit was on him.
They came to the town of Cana, in Galilee, and Jesus saw a man named Philip and talked with him; he was from Bethsaida, the town that Andrew and Peter came from. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip quickly went and told another man, Nathanael, about Jesus. He said, “We’ve found the one God promised to send,
whom Moses and the prophets wrote about.10 His name is Jesus; he’s the son of Joseph and comes from Nazareth.” (Moses was the leader of the Jewish people on their journey from Egypt to Israel. God gave his laws to the people through Moses.11)
Nathanael said, “Nazareth, a small town like that! How can anyone of importance come from there?” Philip said, “Come and see him.”
As Nathaniel came towards him, Jesus said, “Here is a Jewish man with a pure and honest heart.”
He asked, “How do you know me?”
Jesus said, “I saw you sitting under the fig tree; I knew you were there before Philip spoke to you.”
Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the true King of Israel!”
Jesus said to him, “You believe in me because I knew where you were, but you will see greater things than that. I tell you, you will see the power of God at work through me, the Son of Man.” (Jesus often spoke of himself as the ‘Son of Man’; he was fully God and fully man.)
A wedding celebration (2.9)
While Jesus was at Cana, his mother and brothers came there for a wedding and Jesus went to it, along with those who were with him.
Everything at the wedding celebration was going well until the wine ran out. When Mary heard this, she went to Jesus and said, “There is no more wine.”
He said, “Why do you come to me? My time for doing God’s work has not begun.” Mary went to the servants and said, “Do whatever he tells you.”
In the room were six large stone water jars used for a washing ceremony, and each could hold between eighty and a hundred and twenty litres. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill those up.” So they brought water and filled them to the brim. Then he said, “Now take some and give it to the man in charge.”
They did this and when he tasted it, he went to the bride- groom and called him aside and said, “This is very good wine. Usually the best wine is served first, and the cheaper wine is brought out when people have had too much and don’t know what they’re drinking. But you’ve kept the best until now.” The man didn’t know where the wine had come from, only the servants knew.
And so it was in the town of Cana that Jesus did his first miracle, showing his power from God. And when those with him saw this, they believed in him more.
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