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             The Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begins with what the prophet Isaiah said would happen. Isaiah wrote, "There is a person shouting in the desert: `Prepare the way for the Lord. Make his paths straight.'" Isaiah was talking about a preacher named John.

            This is what John the Baptizer preached to the people: "There is a person coming later who is greater than I am. I am not good enough to kneel down and untie his shoes." 

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             At that time Jesus came from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the place where John was preaching. Jesus asked John to baptize him, so John baptized (dipped, immersed) Jesus in the Jordan River. While Jesus was coming up out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw God's Spirit coming down on him like a dove. And a voice spoke from heaven saying, "This is my Son and I love him. I am very pleased with him." 

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             The next day John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, "Look, the Lamb of God. He takes away the sins of the world! I did not know who the Christ was. But God told me, `You will see the Spirit come down and rest on a man. That man is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'" John said, "I have seen this happen. I saw the Spirit come down from heaven. The Spirit came down like a dove and sat on him. So this is what I tell people: `He is the Son of God.'" 

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             The next day, two men followed Jesus and talked with him. One of these two men was named Andrew. Andrew was Simon Peter's brother. The first thing Andrew did was to go find his brother, Simon. Andrew said to Simon, "We have found the Messiah." The word "Messiah" comes from a Hebrew word which means "the anointed One." This term was used with reference to the coming King. 

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            Later the same day, Jesus saw a man named Nathaniel coming toward him. Jesus looked at Nathaniel and said, "This man is truly one of God's people. There is nothing false in him."

            Nathaniel listened to the amazing things Jesus taught. Then, he said to Jesus, "Teacher, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel."  

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Satan Tests the Son of God.

            At the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, Satan tried to separate Jesus from God and to stop Jesus from fulfilling his mission. Jesus was in the desert for forty days and forty nights without food. While he was there, Satan came to test him.           

            Satan tempted Jesus in much the same way he tempted Eve in the garden of Eden: through the desires of the body, the desire for beautiful things, and the desire to be important.

            First, Satan said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, tell these rocks to become bread." Jesus could have satisfied his hunger by using his power selfishly. But he refused to do so. 

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            Then, Satan showed Jesus all the rich and beautiful kingdoms of the world. Satan said, "I will give it all to you if you will only worship me." But Jesus refused.

            Finally, Satan took Jesus to a high place in Jerusalem and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off. God will command his angels to care for you." By jumping off, Jesus could have called attention to himself as an important person, but he would not.

            By resisting Satan's temptations, Jesus won a victory. Jesus was the descendant of Eve who would crush Satan's head. 

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             Jesus went back to Nazareth, the town where he grew up. On the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, a place of worship where people had gathered to read and study the Scriptures. Jesus stood up to read. The book of Isaiah was given to him. Jesus opened the book and found the place where it is written: `The Spirit of the Lord is in me. God anointed me to tell good news to people who have nothing. God sent me to tell people who are prisoners [of sin] that they are free, and to tell the blind that they can see again. God sent me to deliver weak people from their suffering, and to announce the year of the Lord.'"

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            Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the keeper, and sat down. Every person in the synagogue watched him closely. Jesus began to speak to them. He said, "While you heard me reading these words just now, the words were coming true." Thus, Jesus announced that he was God's anointed servant mentioned by Isaiah.

             When Jesus left the synagogue that day, he ministered to people who needed help. He told good news to poor people. He forced evil spirits to leave those who were prisoners of Satan. He made blind people see again, and lame people walk again. He healed sick people of their diseases. Jesus had not come to be served. He had come to serve and to give his life for others.  

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             There was a man named Nicodemus who lived in Jerusalem. Nicodemus was a member of the Pharisee Party, a religious group that carefully followed all Jewish laws and customs. Nicodemus was a very important Jewish leader.

            One night Nicodemus came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you are a teacher sent from God. No person can do these miracles that you do without God's help.

            Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth. A person must be born again. If a person is not born again, that person cannot be in God's kingdom." 

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            Nicodemus said, "But if a man is already old, how can he be born again? A person cannot enter his mother's body again!"

            Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth. A person must be born from the water and the Spirit. If a person is not born from the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter God's kingdom."

            Nicodemus asked, "How can all this be possible?"

            Jesus said, "You are an important teacher of Israel, but you still don't understand these things?" Jesus was talking about the spiritual changes that take place when a person believes in the Christ, turns away from sin, and is baptized in water. But Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus was saying. 

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             Jesus left Jerusalem and returned to Capernaum in Galilee. There, many people gathered to hear him preach. The house was full. There was no place to stand, not even outside the door.

            While Jesus was teaching the people, four men tried to bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. But they could not bring the man to him because the house was full of people. So the four men went up on the roof above Jesus and made a hole in the roof. Then they lowered the bed with the paralyzed man on it. Jesus saw that these men had much faith. So Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "Young man, your sins are forgiven." 

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Some of the teachers of the Jewish law were sitting there. They heard what Jesus said and they said to themselves, "Why does this man say things like that? He is saying things that are against God. Only God can forgive sins."

            Jesus knew that these teachers of the law were thinking these things about him. So Jesus said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to tell this crippled man, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to tell him, `Stand up. Take your bed and walk'? But I will prove to you that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins." So Jesus said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, stand up. Take your bed and go home." The paralyzed man stood up. He took his bed and walked out of the room. All the people could see him. The people were amazed and praised God. They said, "This is the most amazing thing we have ever seen!" 

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             Later Jesus went to Jerusalem for a special Jewish festival. There, at the Pool of Bethzatha, Jesus healed a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. Jesus did this on the Sabbath day (Saturday). The Sabbath day was a day of rest for the Jews.

            When the Jewish leaders saw that Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath day, they began to do bad things to him. But Jesus said to them, "My Father never stops working. And so I work too."

            When Jesus said this, the Jewish leaders try to kill him. They said, "First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Then he said that God is his Father. He is making himself equal with God." 

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 The Word of Jesus Is the Word of God

            Jesus said, "There is a judge for the person that refuses to believe in me and does not accept what I say. The message I have taught will judge that person on the last day. Why? Because the things I taught were not from myself. The Father who sent me told me what to say and what to teach." Jesus was the prophet like Moses who told people everything that God commanded. His words were the very words of God. 

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             Jesus said to those who did not believe in him, "You people are from here below. I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don't belong to this world. You will die in your sins if you don't believe that I AM. You will lift up the Son of Man and kill him on a cross. Then you will know that I AM." (God told Moses that his name was "I AM.") By using God's name, Jesus claimed to be divine.

            To those people who believed in him, Jesus said, "If you continue to obey my teaching, then you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Every person who sins is a slave. Sin is his master. But if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free." 

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            Some of the Jews criticized Jesus for saying these things. Jesus said to them, "Can any of you prove that I am guilty of sin? If I tell you the truth, then why don't you believe me? Your father Abraham was very happy that he would see the day when I came. He saw that day and was happy."

             The Jews said to Jesus, "What? You have never seen Abraham! You are not even fifty years old!"

            Jesus answered, "I tell you truth. Before Abraham was born, I AM." By using God's name, Jesus claimed to be the eternal One.

            When Jesus said this, the people picked up rocks to throw at him. But Jesus hid, and then he left the temple. 

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             In Galilee, Jesus fed more than 5,000 people with five loaves of barley bread and two small fish. Later, he said, "I AM the bread that gives life. The person that comes to me will never hunger. The person who believes in me will never be thirsty." Jesus feeds our souls.

            In Jerusalem, Jesus saw a man who had been blind since he was born. Jesus said to his followers, "I AM the light of the world." Then Jesus spit on the dirt, made some mud with it, and put the mud on the man's eyes. Jesus said, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam." So the man went to the pool. He washed and came back. Now he was able to see. Jesus is to our minds what light is to our eyes. Jesus helps us understand the truth of God. 

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            Jesus said to Martha, "I AM the resurrection. I AM the life. The person who believes in me will have life again after he dies. And the person that lives and believes in me will never really die." Later, Jesus

demonstrated his power over death by raising Lazarus from death.

            Again and again, Jesus used the divine name. He said, "I AM the good shepherd." "I AM the way." "I AM the truth. I AM the life." "I AM the vine and you are the branches."

            In every way possible, Jesus said, "I AM divine." Then he backed up his claims by working miracles. (Miracles were amazing works that Jesus did by the power of God.) Jesus healed sick people, drove out evil spirits, calmed storms, walked on water, and raised people from death. He demonstrated power over nature, power over disease, power over evil, and power over death. He was fully human, yet he was fully divine. 

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             The leading priests and the Pharisees sent some temple police to arrest Jesus. Jesus said to them, "I will be with you a little longer. Then I will go back to the One who sent me." Then, Jesus stood up and said with a loud voice, "If a person is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. If a person believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out of his heart." Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit who would later be given to those who believed in him as the Christ.

            When the people heard Jesus say these things, some of them said, "This man really is the Prophet [like Moses]." Other people said, "He is the Christ."

            The temple police were amazed at Jesus' teachings. Instead of arresting Jesus, they went back to the leading priests and the Pharisees without him. The priests and the Pharisees asked, "Why did you not bring Jesus?" 

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             The temple police answered, "The things he says are greater than the words of any man!" These temple police realized that Jesus was more than a man. 

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             1. Jesus was "the true King." John the Baptizer referred to Jesus as "the Christ." The word "Christ" comes from a Greek word which means "the Anointed One." This was a title used with reference to the coming King.

            Andrew said to his brother Peter, "We have found the Messiah." The word "Messiah" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "the Anointed One." The title "Messiah" was applied to the coming King.

            Nathaniel said, "Teacher, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel." Nathaniel recognized Jesus as the true King.

            John the Baptizer, Andrew, Nathaniel, and others recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the true King.

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            2. Jesus was more than a man. God announced that Jesus was his Son. John the Baptizer, Nathaniel, Simon Peter, and others recognized Jesus as God's Son.

            Jesus, himself, claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed that he could forgive sins and set people free from the power of sin. He claimed that his words would judge us in the end. Jesus did not make empty claims. He demonstrated his divine power. His amazing miracles proved that he was more than a man. 

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            3. The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is not a book of fairy tales. It is a book of truth. It was written by men of God as they were led by the Holy Spirit. It is a record of events that really happened. The life and teachings of Jesus Christ have been confirmed by the testimony of good and honest men. These men saw Jesus' miracles with their own eyes. They heard his teaching with their own ears. Then they wrote down what they had seen and heard. Their testimony would stand up in any court of law. The words of Jesus and his apostles are the words of God. 

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            4. It is never too late to start life again. No matter how many bad things we have done, we can put those bad things behind us and make a fresh start.

            Nicodemus did not understand how a man could be born again when he is old. Today, people still have a hard time understanding what Jesus meant by the new birth.

            Jesus meant that all our past sins can be forgiven. All our past mistakes and failures can be buried and forgotten. The guilt of our past life can be taken away. We can be born again spiritually and start life over. We can be set free from the power of sin.

            When does this happen? It happens when a person is buried with Jesus in baptism. A person opens his or her heart to the Spirit, believes that Jesus is the Son of God, turns away from sin, allows the old sinful person to be buried in water, and rises up to begin a new life of purity and goodness. In this manner, we can put the past behind us and start again.

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            We will learn more about the new birth as we continue our study.


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Scripture References: Deuteronomy 18:18; Isaiah 40:3; 61:1-2; Matthew 3:1-17; 4:1-11, 17- 23; Mark 1:1-11; 2:1-17; Luke 3:1-22; 4:1-21; John 1:29-49; 3:1-17; 5:1-18, 24; 6:1-58; 7:32- 46; 8:23-59; 9:1-7; 10:7-30; 11:1-44; 12:44-50; 14:1-6; 15:1-5; Romans 6:1-23.


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