A modern English blending of the New Testament

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Jesus - A blending of the New Testament - Ch. 7 - Driving out demons
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Demon-possesion cured in the synagogue  -  Peter`s mother-in-law is healed  -  the miraculous catch of fish  -  Simon, Andrew, James, and John become disciples  -  Jesus returns to Nazareth and is rejected  -  a palsied man is healed  -  Matthew becomes a disciple.


The Sabbath came and Jesus taught in the synagogue. The ring of authority in his words made a deep impression on the congregation. In the midst of the service there was an interruption. Among those gathered was a man possessed by a devil, and it suddenly let out a deep and strangled cry: "What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? We know you, you're God's holy one. Have you come here to destroy us?"

"Quiet!" Jesus commanded. "Come out of him!"

The man writhed in a convulsion. With a loud shriek the demon left him.

There was consternation in the synagogue. Everyone turned to his neighbor, questioning.

"What's going on?" they asked.

"What is this - some new religion?"

"Did you see the authority with which he controlled that devil?"

All this was done to fulfill the prediction by the prophet Isaiah:

Our infirmities he assumed,
Our illnesses he bore.

After the service Jesus was invited home by Simon and Andrew. James and John had been asked, also. When they arrived, they found Simon's mother-in-law burning with a fever. They told Jesus and he went to her bedside. As he took her by the hand and raised her, her fever disappeared and she got up and prepared the food.

That evening, just before sunset, a crowd gathered outside the house. It seemed the whole town was there and that everyone who had a sick relative or friend had brought him. Some among the sick were possessed by demons. Jesus went out and walked through the crowd, putting his hands on the sick and healing them and driving out the devils. Some of the demons recognized him, and when they came out, shrieked, "You're God's son!" He ordered them to be silent.

In the morning he went for a walk along the shore of Lake Galilee and was soon followed by a crowd. Two boats were pulled up on the shore, and the men who owned them were standing in the water washing their nets. One of the men was Simon. Jesus got into Simon's boat and had him push it out from the shore so that he could sit in it and talk to the crowd.

When he had finished teaching, he said to Simon, "Put out to where the water is deeper and cast your nets."

"But we've been fishing all night, sir, and haven't caught a thing," Simon said. "However if you say, so, we'll give it another try."

They pulled some distance away from the shore and cast their nets. As they began to haul them in they realized that they had encompassed a huge school of fish, so large that the nets began to rip. They signaled frantically for their partners James and John to bring the other boat. When finally they got the fish aboard, both boats were filled to the scuppers and in danger of foundering. It suddenly dawned on Simon what had been happening and he flung himself down at Jesus' feet.

"Go away, sir!" he said. "I'm too wicked a man. . ."

"Don't worry, Simon," he said. "In the future your catch will be men."

When the boats had been beached, Jesus turned to Simon and Andrew. "Come and join me," he said.

They left everything - boats, gear, nets and fish - and followed him.

James and John were in their boat with their father Zebedee, repairing their nets. As Jesus passed he called out, "Come and join me, men."

They, too, turned their backs on everything and followed him.

Next morning, hours before dawn, Jesus got out of bed and walked alone to an isolated place to pray. Simon and some others who had been searching for him finally found him.

"Everybody's looking for you," Simon said.

"I know," he said. "But we must move on. I've got to preach the good news in other towns as well. That's what I've been sent to do."

Jesus traveled all over Galilee. He taught in the synagogues. He preached the good news of the kingdom and healed every kind of disease and infirmity: even epilepsy and paralysis. He exorcised demons. Everywhere he went he was followed by enormous crowds: men and women from Galilee, from the Decapolis, from Judea, from Jerusalem, from the far side of the Jordan, and from as far away as the seacoast cities of Tyre and Sidon.

Eventually Jesus returned to his boyhood home of Nazareth and on the sabbath, as was his custom, went to synagogue. He stood up in the congregation to read, and the attendant handed him the scroll of the book of Isaiah. He unrolled it until he found the place and then he read:

"God's spirit rests upon me.
He has anointed me to tell the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to announce liberty to the prisoners,
To the blind, the restoration of their sight,
To the oppressed, freedom from their bonds,
And to proclaim the day of grace God has set."

He rolled up the scroll, handed it to the attendant, and sat down. Every eye was fixed on him.

"Today," he said, "here in your presence, that prediction has been fulfilled."

But he was able to accomplishe little, other than to put his hands on a few and heal them. He was astonished at their disbelief; although some were impressed, said complementary things about him, and remarked about the grace of his speech.

"But how does he come by all this?" the people said to each other. "How can he do what he does? Isn't he Joseph's son? We know his mother, his brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas, and his sisters. Where does he get all this?"

They began to feel offended.

Jesus looked at them. "I suppose," he said, "You are going to quote the proverb to me, 'Doctor, heal yourself.' 'Let's see you do here what they say you did in Capernaum.'  How true it is that a prophet may be honored everywhere but in his home town or among his relatives or in his home.

"Let me remind you of some history," he said. "Back in Elijah's time - at the time of the great drought when it didn't rain for three and a half years - there was a famine. Bear in mind that at that time there were many widows in Israel. But was Elijah sent to help them? No, he was sent to a widow who lived in Zarepath in Sidon - a Gentile.

"Back in Elijah's time there were many lepers in Israel. Did Elijah heal any of them? No, the only leper he healed was Naaman, and he was a Syrian."

The congregation was in an uproar. His words has enraged them. They seized him and dragged him out of town to the brow of the hill on which Nazareth is built. They were ready to pitch him over the edge when he slipped through their hands and got away.

Some days later he returned to Capernaum. Word spread through the city that he was back, and the people came flocking, jamming the house until they spilled out of the door. Among those inside were some Pharisees and some teachers of the Law.

Outside, four men, carrying a man paralyzed with the palsy on his sleeping-mat, were trying to get in the house to set the man in front of Jesus. The crowd was too great, so they climbed to the roof, carrying the man with them, and removed enough of the tiles to permit them to lower him into the middle of the room where Jesus was teaching. He saw what an act of faith had been performed and spoke to the sick man. "Cheer up, my son," he said. "Your sins are forgiven."

The scribes and the Pharisees muttered to each other, "That's blasphemy! Who does he think he is? Nobody but God can forgive sins."

Jesus sensed their hostility. "Why are your thoughts so evil?" he said. "I put this question to you: which is easier, to tell a man that his sins have been forgiven or to tell a man with the palsy to get up, pick up his sleeping-mat, and leave? I ask you, which is easier? And now, to make it clear to you that the son of man is authorized here on earth to forgive sins. . ." He turned to the man with the palsy. "Get up," he said. "Take that bed of yours and go home."

Immediately, the man got up, picked up his mat, and left the house, shouting praises to God as he went.

The crowd in the house was overwhelmed with astonishment and awe.

"We've seen strange things this day," one man said.

"Indeed we have," said another. "Which of us has ever witnessed anything like that!"

When Jesus left the house, the crowd followed him down to the lake where he taught for a while. Afterwards, walking down a street in the city, he saw a tax-collector by the name of Matthew (sometimes called Levi), a son of Alphaeus, sitting at his toll-booth.

"Come and join me," Jesus said.

Matthew got up, left everything behind, and fell in with him.

That night Matthew gave a party. Jesus and the disciples were there as were a number of the least reputable of Capernaum's citizens. Some Pharisees saw Jesus at the party and were outraged. "Why does your teacher associate with people like that?" they asked the disciples.

The disciples told Jesus what was being said.

"Healthy people don't need a doctor," he told them,"but the sick do. Study that saying of Hosea's, I would prefer that men showed mercy to their fellows rather than offer sacrifices in the temple. My mission is to get sinners not the respectable to quit their sins."

It was a time of fasting among the Jews and some of John's disciples came to Jesus.

"We and the Pharisees are observing the fast," they said "Why aren't your disciples?"

"Would you expect wedding guests to be mournful while the bridegroom was still with them?" he said. "They'll fast after he's gone."

He told a series of parables:

"Can you imaging anyone using a piece of unshrunk cloth to patch an old coat? Of course not. When the patch shrinks, it would simply make the hole larger.

"Can you imagine anyone making a batch of new wine and storing it in old wineskins? Of course not. The skins would burst and both the wineskins and the wine would be wasted. New wine must be put in new wineskins so that both are preserved.

"Can you imagine anyone, after drinking some properly aged wine, asking for new wine? Of course not. He'd know the old is better."
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