A modern English blending of the New Testament

Everything Jesus said and did, nothing more, nothing less.

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Jesus - A blending of the New Testament - Ch. 3 - preaching of John the Baptist
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The preaching of John the Baptist  -  he predicts the ministry of Jesus  -  Jesus is baptized  -  the temptation in the desert.


In the fifteenth year of the Emperor Tiberius Caesar's reign, when Pontius Pilate was Governor of Judea and Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee,2 Zachariah's son John was living a hermit's life in the desert country. God spoke to him and he ended his exile. He began to travel the entire Jordan river valley, preaching that men should be baptized as an evidence that they had turned from their sins and found God's forgiveness.

"Repent," he said, "God's kingdom is here!"

John's clothing was simple: a robe woven from camels' hair with a leather belt around the waist. His food consisted of locusts and wild honey. He was the embodiment of the prophecy by Isaiah:

I shall send a herald to prepare your path
His will be a voice shouting in the desert;
Prepare a highway for God!
Fill in the valleys, level the mountains,
Straighten the twisting, smooth out the rough.
And all men everywhere shall see God's salvation!

Enormous crowds flocked to hear him: from Jerusalem, from everywhere in Judea, and from all of the Jordan valley. When they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the river.

Some Pharisees and some Sadducees came to be baptized.

"So, you brood of snakes," he said, "somebody has warned you that the judgement is coming! Let us see, then, some evidence that you've turned from your sins. And you don't stand there in self-congratulation saying to yourselves, 'We're descendants of Abraham,' because God can make descendants of Abraham out of these stones. His axe lies at the base of the tree, so be warned; any tree that doesn't produce good fruit is going to be cut down and burned."

"What does God want of us?" someone called out from the crowd.

"If you own two coats," he said, "give one to the man who has none. If you have food, share it."

Some tax collectors asked what they must do.

"Don't collect a penny more than you've been authorized to," he told them.

When some soldiers put the same question, he told them, "Don't extort money by violence or by threats and be content with your pay."

His preaching created enormous excitement and was the cause of much speculation; many Jews were expecting the Messiah and wondered if John were he. Knowing what was in their minds, he explained.

"My mission is to baptize you with water," he said, "but someone else is coming whose authority goes far beyond mine. I'm not even worthy to bend down and untie his sandals. When he baptizes you it will be with God's spirit and fire. He has his winnowing fork in his hand and he's about to clear his threshing floor. He's going to separate the grain from the chaff, store the grain in his barn, and burn the chaff in a fire that nothing can extinguish."

When Jesus was about thirty years old, he left Nazareth and went to the place where John was preaching, near Bethany on the far side of the Jordan. He sought John out and asked to be baptized. John was reluctant.

"Baptize you," he said, "You should baptize me."

"Do as I ask, John," Jesus said, "In doing this thing together we will be doing fully that which is right."

John consented and Jesus was baptized.

He came out of the water immediately and was praying when the sky suddenly parted. John saw the spirit of God, looking like a dove, descending on Jesus. Then, from above, a voice spoke: "This is my son. I am well pleased with him."

God's spirit then led Jesus into the desert, and for the next forty days he lived there alone except for the wild animals. He ate nothing the entire time and, when the forty days were up, was famished.

It was then the devil came to test him.

"So you're God's son," he said. "Prove it. Change this stone into a loaf of bread."

"No," Jesus said, "The scriptures teach that life is more than food; a man must also feed his spirit on God's words."

The devil then took him to Jerusalem and perched him on the highest ledge of the temple. "Now," he said, "if you really are God's son, jump. Don't you have the promise in the scripture that God will assign his angels to protect you, and they will support you so that you won't even stumble over a stone?"

"True, but there is something else in the scriptures," he said, "Don't put God to foolish tests."

Then Satan took him to the peak of a mountain from which all the nations of the world could be seen in their magnificence.

"It's all yours," he said, "All you need do is bend your knee to me."

"The scriptures teach that men must worship only God," Jesus said, "Leave me alone."

The devil went off to wait for the opportune time, and angels came and met Jesus' needs.

(2)   Herod's brother, Philip, was the ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis, Lysanius governed Abilene, and Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. [Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.]

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