Showing posts from December, 2021

Jesus and John Baptize

After meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem and went into the Judean countryside. And while the Scripture does not specify, they most likely made their way westward, past Jericho, to the banks of the Jordan River. There Jesus spent some time with His disciples, and the disciples baptized those who came. Now, John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, roughly 20 miles to the north. John was baptizing there because the water was plentiful there, and people kept coming to be baptized. Also, John was able to baptize them because Herod Antipas had not yet thrown him into prison. Soon, a dispute arose between John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the issue of ceremonial washing. During the discussion, John's disciples must have learned about what Jesus and His disciples were doing to the south. So, John’s disciples came to John and said, “Look, Rabbi (Teacher), the One who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the One you testified about—He is baptizi


While Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, there was also there a man named Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling council of the Jews), and a respected teacher. Like the people, Nicodemus also thought Jesus might be the Messiah foretold in Scripture. He wanted to speak with Jesus, but too many people surrounded Him during the day. So, he came to Jesus at night to have a private conversation with Him. Nicodemus wondered what he must do for the Messiah to save him. Nicodemus started the conversation gradually. "Rabbi," he said, "we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs You are doing if God were not with him.” At that point, Jesus cut through the conversation and went straight to the question in Nicodemus' mind. He said, "Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." This surprised Nicodemus. And h


In the time of Jesus' earthly ministry, the temple had become quite a place of commerce. According to the Law, sacrifices were required. Depending on the sacrifice, various animals and birds were offered, yet it was difficult for people to transport them from the distant parts of Judea. And so, there sprang up in Jerusalem a lucrative business of selling the animals and birds needed for sacrifice. And the sellers gouged the faithful by charging them exorbitant prices. Also, Judea was under the rule of the Roman Empire, and the money in use was Roman coin. However, the Jewish law required that every man should pay a tribute to the service of the sanctuary of “half a shekel”, a Jewish coin. And so, it became a matter of convenience to have in the temple a place where the Roman coin could be exchanged for the Jewish half-shekel. The money-changers provided this convenience but would demand a small sum for the exchange. And because so many came up to Jerusalem for the great feasts, cha


On the third day after Nathanael met Jesus, there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. At that time, weddings were ceremonies lasting several days. Jesus’ mother was at the wedding. And Jesus and His disciples had also been invited. At some point, the wine for the wedding feast ran out. Mary knew that running out of wine at the wedding would bring shame on the wedding couple and their families. So, when Mary learned of the problem, she went to Jesus. “They have no more wine," she said. Respectfully, Jesus replied, “Woman, why does this concern us? My hour has not yet come.”  But His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Now, six stone water jars had been set there for the Jewish rites of purification. Each jar could hold from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” So the servants filled them to the brim. “Now draw some out,” He said, “and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet taste

Philip and Nathanael

The day after Andrew and Peter met Jesus, He decided to set out for Galilee. There He found Philip, and told him, “Follow Me.”  Now, Philip was from Bethsaida, the same town as Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One the prophets foretold—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.  “Come and see,” said Philip.  When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.”  “How do You know me?” Nathanael asked.  Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  “Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”  Jesus said to him, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” Then He declared, “Truly, truly, I tell you, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descendin

Andrew and Peter

The day after John had proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God, John was again near Bethany across the Jordan. And he was with two of his disciples when he saw Jesus walking by. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following. “What do you want?” He asked. They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?” “Come and see,” He replied. So, they went and saw where He was staying. It was about the tenth hour (By Roman timekeeping, the tenth hour would be 10 am.). And the two spent that day with Jesus.  Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s testimony and followed Jesus. Andrew first found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (Now, in Hebrew, the word for "Anointed" is Messiah, in Greek, the word is Christos, and in English, the word is Christ.). Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of

Lamb of God

In the Book of Exodus, we read that the Lord God commanded that the priests sacrifice a lamb as a burnt offering and that they do this every morning and every evening. These daily sacrifices were to atone for the sins of the people. From the time of the tabernacle to the time of the temple, for generation upon generation, the priests obeyed the Lord God's command. And so, the people came to understand that a sacrifice was required to take away their sin, which separated them from God. One day, after Jesus had returned from the wilderness, and when John was near Bethany across the Jordan, John saw Jesus approaching. And John shouted, "See! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man with a higher rank than I because He existed before me.' I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”  John testified, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven,


Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. And as He returned from the Jordan River, the Spirit drove Him up into the wilderness with the wild beasts. There He was tested by the devil. Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights and ate nothing. At the end of that time, Jesus was hungry. The tempter came to Jesus and said, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered Him, “It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " Another time, the devil took Jesus to the Holy city, Jerusalem, and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If You are the Son of God," he said, "throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: 'He will command His angels concerning You to guard You, and they will lift You up in their hands so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.'" Jesus replied, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the


One day, when all the people were being baptized, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk Him out of it, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and You come to me?"  Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."  Then John agreed. As Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens suddenly opened, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Jesus; And a voice from heaven said, "This is My beloved Son; with Him, I am well pleased." (See Matthew 3:13-15; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22) -


John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees in the crowds that were coming out to him. He said to them all, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Well then, if you are serious, produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don't think you can tell each other, 'We're safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.' Because I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already placed at the root of the trees. And every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." The crowds asked John, "What should we do then?" John replied, "Whoever has two tunics should share with him who has none, and whoever has food should do the same." Even tax collectors came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"  He told them, "Don't collect more than you are required to."  Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we d

John's Testimony

John was baptizing at Bethany beyond the Jordan River. And he gave this testimony: The leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John, “Who are you?”  John did not refuse to confess, but openly declared, “I am not the Messiah.”  “Then who are you?” they inquired. “Are you Elijah, who was foretold?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet, who was foretold?”  He answered, “No.”  So they said to him, “Who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”  John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I am a voice of one calling in the wilderness,  ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”  Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  “I baptize with water for repentance,” John replied, “but among you stands One you do not know. He is the One who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with th

John the Baptizer

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip was tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, and Annas and Caiaphas were high priests. In this year, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. John went through all the wilderness of Judea, around the Jordan River, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." John preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill made low. The crooked ways will be made straight, and the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God's salvation.'"  John wore

His Father's House

When Mary and Joseph could not find the Boy Jesus among their company of relatives and friends, they left the group and returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. Finally, after searching for three days, Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers. Jesus was listening to the teachers and He was asking them questions. And all who heard Jesus was astounded at His understanding and His answers. When Jesus' parents saw Him, they were astonished. "Child, why have You done this to us?" His mother asked. "Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You." "But why were you looking for Me?" Jesus asked. "Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" But Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus was telling them. Then Jesus went down to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph and He was obedient to them. But His mother gathered up all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in

Twelfth Year

Every year, Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. And when Jesus turned twelve years old, He went with them, according to the custom of the Feast. The Passover to the Lord God began at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month of the year. On the fifteenth day began the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord God. For seven days the people ate unleavened bread. On the first of these days, on which they did no work, the people held a sacred assembly. And for seven days the people presented to the Lord God offerings made by fire. On the seventh day, on which the people did no work, they held another sacred assembly. When the Feast was ended, Mary and Joseph began the journey back home with their relatives and friends. The Boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were not aware that Jesus stayed behind. Although they did not see Jesus before they left Jerusalem, they assumed He was traveling with them, somewhere in their comp

Return from Egypt

Mary, Joseph, and the Child Jesus lived in Egypt, hiding from King Herod. And after Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph. “Get up!” he said. “Take the Child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the Child’s life are now dead.” So, Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother back to the land of Israel. But he learned that Herod's son Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father, and Joseph was afraid to go there. Also, Joseph was warned in a dream not to go to Judea. So, he took his family to the district of Galilee, where Archelaus' brother, Herod Antipas, was tetrarch. They went to live in the town of Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.” (See Matthew 2:19-23) -


Herod was furious when he learned that he had been outwitted by the Magi. He gave orders to put to death all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, based on the time of the star's appearing, which he had learned from the Magi. And so, what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted because the children are no more.” (See Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18) -

The Flight to Egypt

After the Magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt. And stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.” So, Joseph got up. He took the Child and His mother by night and left for Egypt, where they stayed until the death of Herod. This fulfilled what the Lord God had spoken through the prophet Hosea: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (See Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-15) -

The Gifts

After their audience with the king, the Magi went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great delight. On entering the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were offerings given to a king. Gold was a symbol of royalty. Frankincense, which is incense, was a symbol of divinity. And myrrh, an embalming oil, was a symbol of humanity and mortality. Now, the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. And so, they went back to their own country by another route. (See Matthew 2:9-12) -


After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of King Herod, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem. And they were asking everyone, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When King Herod heard of the Magi and what they were asking, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. He assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, and he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this was written by the prophet Micah: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called the Magi to him secretly and learned from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child, and when you find Him, report to me, so that I may go and worship Him, too.” (


While Mary and Joseph were in the temple with the Baby Jesus, there was also there a prophetess whose name was Anna. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Anna was well along in years. She had been married for seven years, and then she was a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there night and day, fasting and praying. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus, Anna came forward at that moment. She gave thanks to God and she spoke about the Child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (See Luke 2:36-38) -


According to the Law of the Lord, forty days after a woman had given birth to a male child, she was to bring the child to the temple so that the mother might complete her ritual purification after childbirth. And so, forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph brought the Child to the temple in Jerusalem. It says in the Law of the Lord: "Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to the Lord." And so, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord God and offered a sacrifice. Since they could not afford a lamb, they offered a lesser sacrifice, as was permitted in the Law of the Lord: "A pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons." Now, there was in Jerusalem a righteous and devout man named Simeon. And he had waited a long time for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and had revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. So, led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the temple courts. And when Mary and Joseph

The Boy Was Circumcised

In the Book of Genesis, we read that the Lord God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. And so, as a sign of honoring the covenant, every male child was to be circumcised. And in the Book of Leviticus we read that the Lord God instructed Moses, "Say to the Israelites that if a woman becomes pregnant and bears a male child, she is ceremonially unclean for seven days. And on the eighth day, the boy is to be circumcised.  And so, on the eighth day after the birth of Mary's Son, the Boy was circumcised according to God's Law. Now, the custom was that when babies were circumcised, they were given their name. And so, this Child was formally named Jesus, which was the name given by the angel Gabriel before the Child was conceived. The name Jesus means "Yahweh saves." (See Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:1-3; Luke 2:11) -

The Angels Appear to the Shepherds

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there were shepherds out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Just then, an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today, in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the Baby, wh

Jesus is Born

 In the Gospel of Luke, we read that in the time that Mary and Joseph were pledged to be married, that a decree went out from the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, that a census should be taken of the whole empire. We also read that this was the first census to take place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And regardless of where the people were currently living, everyone was required to register in their hometown. So, Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. Bethlehem was the city of King David, and Joseph was a descendant of David. Joseph went to Bethlehem with Mary, who was pledged to him in marriage and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for Mary's Child to be born. And she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, which were strips of cloth.  And she laid the Child in a manger because there was no room for them to stay in the inn. (See Luke 2:1-7) -

An Angel Appeared to Joseph

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother, Mary, was pledged in marriage to Joseph. But before the two came together, Mary was found to be with child. And Mary explained to Joseph that it happened through the power of the Holy Spirit. But Joseph doubted the circumstances by which Mary came to be with child. And so, because he was a righteous man and unwilling to disgrace her publicly, he resolved to divorce Mary quietly.   But after Joseph had made his decision, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife. For the One conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son. And you are to give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins."   All these events took place to fulfill what the Lord God had said through the prophet Isaiah:   "Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Im

John is Born

When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they rejoiced with her. When the baby was eight days old, they all came to circumcise the child. They were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. But his mother replied, "No! He shall be called John." But they said to her, "None of your relatives have this name." So, they made signs to his father, asking what Zechariah wanted to name the child. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And they were all amazed. Immediately, Zechariah's mouth was open and his tongue was released, and he began to speak, praising God. All their neighbors were filled with fear and awe, and people throughout the hill country of Judea talked about these events. And all who heard wondered in their hearts, "What then will this child become?" For the Lord's hand was on him.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country in Judah, where she entered the home of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She cried in a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy! Blessed is she who believed that the Lord's words to her will be fulfilled”  Then Mary said: “My soul greatly praises the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For He has looked with favor on the humble state of His servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed. For the mighty One has done great things for me. And Holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who revere Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scatt

Gabriel Appears to Mary

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin who was pledged to marry a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel appeared to Mary and said, “Greetings, O favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. So, the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over Jacob's descendants forever. His kingdom will never end!” But Mary asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the Holy One to be born will be called the Son

Gabriel Appears to Zechariah

In the days of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was a descendant of Aaron. They both were righteous in the sight of God. And they walked blamelessly in all the commandments and decrees of the Lord. But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. And they both were advanced in years.  One day, while Zechariah's priestly division was on duty, and Zechariah was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And at that hour, all the people were praying outside. Just then, an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to


 In the Book of Micah, among the saying of that prophet, is this: Now, muster your troops, O daughter of troops. For a siege is laid against us! With a rod, they will strike the cheek of the judge of Israel. But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, who are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth for Me One to be ruler over Israel--One whose origins are old, from the days of eternity. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of His brothers will return to the children of Israel. (See Micah 5:1-3) -

Speak Comfort and Prepare the Way

The prophet Isaiah gave this message: "Comfort, comfort My people," says your God. "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her forced labor is over; that her iniquity has been pardoned. For she has received from the Lord God's hand double for all her sins." A voice calls: "Prepare the way for the Lord God in the wilderness; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord God will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord God has spoken." A voice said, "Cry out!"  And I asked, "What should I cry out?"  "All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall when the breath of the Lord God blows on them; indeed, the people are like grass. The grass withe

The Word

The Gospel of John tells us is: In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that through him everyone might believe. He himself was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. The true Light who gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He--the Word--was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God--children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of humans, but born of God. Th