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The Firsts

The first miracle

A few days later there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and Jesus, his mother, and his disciples were invited. But at one point Jesus’ mother said to him, “They’re out of wine.”

Jesus asked, “What does that have to do with me, dear woman? My time has not yet come.”

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

There were six stone water jars there. They were used in Jewish cleansing rituals, each with a capacity of twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars to the brim with water, then dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies,” and so they did.

Now when the master of ceremonies tasted the water that had been turned into wine, not knowing its origin (though the servants who had dipped it out knew), he summoned the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone else serves the best wine first and then brings out the cheap wine after the guests don’t care anymore, but you’ve saved the best for last!”

This was the first of the miracles Jesus did in Cana of Galilee. It revealed his majesty, and his disciples put their trust in him. Then he, his mother, siblings, and disciples went down into Capernaum and stayed there for several days.

The first temple cleansing

When it was about time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple compound he found brokers and merchants selling oxen, sheep, and doves. Making a whip out of ropes, he threw everyone out of the temple compound, including the animals. He upended the brokers’ tables, scattering their coins, and yelled to those selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Do not turn my Father’s house into a merchant’s house!” (His disciples remembered that it was written, “Passion for your house will consume me.”)

Then the religious leaders came and demanded, “What authority do you have to do these things? Who gave you the right?”

“Let me ask you a question,” Jesus replied, “And if you can answer my question, then I’ll answer yours. The immersion of John… was it from heaven or from people?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say ‘From heaven’, he’ll say ‘Then why didn’t you believe?’ But if we say ‘From people’, we fear what they’d do to us since they consider him a prophet.” So they finally said, “We don’t know.”

And Jesus retorted, “Then I’m not telling you where I got this authority.”

The first student

Now there was a religious leader named Nicodemus who was well-respected by the Jews. He came to Jesus one night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you’re a teacher from God, since no one could do the miracles you do unless God were with him.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you very truly that if a person isn’t born from above, they can’t see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can an old person be born again?“ Nicodemas asked. “Surely no one is able to enter their mother’s womb a second time and be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you very truly that unless a person is born of water and the Spirit, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Flesh comes from flesh, and spirit comes from spirit. This concept that you need to be born from above shouldn’t puzzle you. The wind blows wherever it chooses; you hear the sound but you can’t tell where it comes from and where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this happen?” asked Nicodemas.

“How can you be Israel’s teacher and not know these things?” Jesus replied. “I tell you very truly that we speak of what we understand, and we testify of what we have seen, but none of you accepts our testimony. If none of you believe me when I speak of earthly things, how will any of you believe if I speak of heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven except The Human, the one who descended from there.

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so also must the Human be lifted up, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life. Likewise, since God loved the world, he also gave his unique Son so that everyone who would trust in him would not be destroyed but have eternal life. After all, God didn’t send his son into the world to pass judgment on it, but to save it through him. The one putting trust in him is not condemned, but the one not trusting is condemned already for rejecting the name of the only God-Man.”

Now this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but people prefer shadows to light because they do evil. Evildoers hate The Light and won’t come toward it since their evil deeds would be exposed. Yet the one with the truth comes toward The Light so their good deeds can be revealed, since they were done to honor God.

The first dispute

After this Jesus and his disciples came into the region of Judea, and he stayed with them and immersed people. Now John was also immersing in Aenon near Salim where there was plenty of water. This was before Herod (ruler over one-fourth the country) added to all his other evils by locking John in prison for confronting him about taking the wife of his own brother Philip.

Then there was a dispute between John’s disciples and a Jew about cleansing. So they came to John and said, “Teacher, the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one you testified about… Look! He’s immersing and everyone is going to him.”

John replied, “No one can receive anything without it being given from heaven. You yourselves have testified to me that I said I’m not the Anointed One but only his forerunner. It’s the bridegroom who has the bride, yet the bridegroom’s friend has been waiting and is overjoyed to hear his voice. This is the joy I have, and it’s now complete. That One must become greater, while I must become lesser.

“The one coming from above is above all. The one of the earth is of the earth and speaks from the earth, but the one coming from heaven is above all. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. But the one accepting it confirms that God is true. The one that God sends out gives God’s announcements, because God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything into his hand. The one putting trust in the Son has eternal life, yet the one hostile to the Son shall not see life; only the wrath of God is left to them.”

Now since Jesus knew that the religious leaders heard he was confirming and immersing more disciples than John (though it wasn’t actually Jesus but his disciples doing the immersing), he left Judea and returned to Galilee.

The first evangelist

On his way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus had to pass through Samaria, and he came into one of their cities called Sychar, near the parcel of land Jacob gave his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

Suddenly a woman came out of Samaria to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone into the city to buy food.)

So she replied, “Why would a Jew like you ask a Samaritan woman like me for a drink?” (Jews don’t associate with Samaritans.)

“If you only knew of the gift of God and who it is that’s asking you for a drink!“ Jesus answered. “Then you would ask him and he would give you living water.”

“Sir, you don’t even have a bucket and the well is deep,” she said. “Where would you get this living water? You’re no greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well. It refreshed him, his children, and his livestock.”

Jesus responded, “Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water I will give them is guaranteed to never thirst again, because the water I give will be like a perpetual well filled with eternal life.”

The woman then boldly asked, “Sir, give me this kind of water so I won’t thirst again and will no longer have to come through here to draw water.”

So Jesus said, “Go get your husband and come back here.”

“I have no husband,” she replied;

“You’re right, you have no husband,” he answered. “ You’ve had five men, and the one you have now isn’t your husband. Your statement is all too true.”

So the woman said, “Sir, I can tell you’re a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that only Jerusalem is the place to worship.”

And Jesus replied, “Trust me, dear woman; the time is coming when people will no longer worship the Father either in this mountain or in Jerusalem. Your people worship in ignorance, but we worship in understanding, because The Rescue comes from the Jews. Yet the time is coming— in fact, it’s already upon us— when real worshipers will worship the Father genuinely and spiritually, since they’re the kind the Father searches for. God is spirit, and those who worship him must do so genuinely and spiritually.”

The woman responded, “I understand that the Anointed One is coming (we say Messiah, you say Christ). And when he does, he will explain everything completely.”

Jesus told her plainly, “He’s the one talking to you!”

Just then his disciples arrived, and they were surprised he was talking with a woman. But no one asked what he wanted or why he was talking with her. Then the woman left her water jar and went into the city to tell the people, “Come and see someone who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Anointed One?” So they left the city and went out to him.

In the meantime his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he replied, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

The disciples said to each other, “You didn’t bring him anything to eat, did you?”

So Jesus told them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and finish the job. Don’t people say it’s still four months till the harvest comes? But open your eyes and look at the countryside; the fields are ready for harvest. The harvester is already being paid and gathering the produce of eternal life, so that both the planter and the harvester may celebrate together. As the saying goes, ‘One plants and another harvests’. I sent you to harvest what none of you worked for, so you will share in the labor of others.”

Now many of the Samaritans of that city put their trust in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” When the Samaritans came to him they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed for two days. Then many more believed because of what he said. They told the woman, “We no longer believe only because of what you told us, but also because of what we ourselves have heard him say. We can see that this really is the Savior of the world!”

The first rejection

Now after John was arrested, Jesus arrived in Galilee in the power of the Spirit. He proclaimed the good news of God and said, “The time has come and the kingdom of God approaches! Turn to God and believe the good news.” The Galileans accepted him, because they had seen all he did in Jerusalem during the festival. He taught in their synagogues and was well-esteemed by everyone, because he spoke with authority.

Then he went into Nazareth where he had been brought up, and as was his custom he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. He stood up to read and was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, which he unrolled to the spot where this was written: “The Spirit of the Master is upon me, because he has anointed me to announce good news to the destitute; he has sent me to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind; he has dispatched me to cancel charges against the oppressed and to herald the acceptable time of the Master.” Rolling up the scroll, he handed it to the attendant and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were watching him intently, and he started speaking to them: “Today, in your hearing, this scripture has been fulfilled.”

But though many people were impressed with him and were intrigued by what he said, others were offended. Because of their lack of faith, he was unable to do any powerful deeds there, except to place his hands on a few chronically ill people and heal them. “Where did this come from?” they asked. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? How did he get this wisdom, or the power to do such things through his hands? Isn’t he the craftsman, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?”

And Jesus replied, “Surely you will quote this saying to me: ‘Physician, cure yourself!’, and you’ll say ‘Do here at home what we heard that you did in Capernaum.’ I tell you very truly that a prophet is honored everywhere except in their own hometown and among their own relatives and household. There were in fact many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky gave no rain for three-and-a-half years and caused a severe famine to come over the whole land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them but to a widow in Sarepta in the province of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the days of the prophet Elisha, yet he didn’t heal one of them but only Naaman the Syrian.”

This enraged the people of the synagogue, so they picked him up and threw him out of the city. They took him to the edge of the mountain the city had been built upon, to push him over the edge, but he walked right through the crowd and went away.

The first callings

Then Jesus moved out of Nazareth and settled in Capernaum by the sea, in the area near Zebulon and Naphtali, in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah: “Land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, the road to the sea on the other side of the Jordan, in Galilee of the Gentiles: The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; to those sitting in the shadowy place of death, a light has risen on them.”

As he walked along the seaside in Galilee with his followers, he saw two brothers: Simon (called Peter) and Andrew. They were throwing a fishing net into the sea, because that’s how they made their living. And he said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” So they immediately dropped their nets and followed him. From there, he saw two other brothers: James and John, sons of Zebedee. They were in the boat with their father, preparing the nets. He called to them and they immediately followed him, leaving the ship and their father.

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