Jesus’ Story – Day 6

February 23, Monday

Water to WineThe next day Jesus decided to return to Galilee. He found Philip and invited him to come along. Philip was from Bethsaida, the same city as Andrew and Peter. He found his friend Nathanael and told him about Jesus, saying, “We’ve met the One whom Moses and the Prophets said would come — the Messiah! His name is Jesus.  He’s from Nazareth, son of a carpenter by the name of Joseph.”

Nathanael’s response was, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

To which Philip said simply, “Come and see.”

As Nathanael approached, Jesus said to him, “Now here is an Israelite whose life is above reproach!”

Nathanael was taken aback. “How do You know me?”

Jesus told him that He’d seen him sitting under a fig tree before Philip had come up to him.

Nathanael was convinced. “Teacher, You are the Son of God, rightful king of Israel.”

Commending him, Jesus went on to say, “So you believe Who I am just because I said I saw you under the fig tree? You will most certainly see greater proofs in the days to come: the heavens opening and angels going back and forth between heaven and the Son of Man.”

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A few days later Jesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana. Jesus’ mother also attended; and when she heard that the hosts had run out of wine for the feast, she approached her Son about the situation. He let her know that it may not be time for doing public miracles.

Nevertheless, in a few minutes He instructed the servants to fill six large stone water pots with water. No sooner had they filled them with water, than Jesus told them to take a cupful to the master of ceremonies.

The servants knew where the wine had come from, but the host had no idea. So he called to the bridegroom saying, “This is remarkable! At most celebrations they serve the good wine first and save the lower quality for later. Instead, you have saved the best for last!”

And so it was that Jesus demonstrated His unique power.  This was his first miracle. It increased the disciples’ faith in Him.

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From there, Jesus, His family, and His disciples went to Capernaum for a few days and then made His way to Jerusalem for the Passover.

When He arrived at the temple, He saw the courtyard filled with animals and with people conducting business.  Jesus found some scraps of rope and wove them into a whip which He then used to drive all the animals out of the sacred space. He also dumped out the money boxes and declared loudly, “Get these things out of here! Do not turn My Father’s house into a public market!”

Needless to say, this caused quite a commotion. The disciples recalled the Scripture that says, “Zeal for the sacredness of Your House overwhelmed Me.”

Some of the leaders approached Jesus, asking, “Who gave You the right to do this? Give us some sign that You have this kind of authority.”

Jesus said cryptically, “Destroy this temple and three days later I’ll raise it back up.”

The Jews were incredulous, “We’ve been working on rebuilding this for forty-six years. How can You talk about doing it in just three days?”

Of course, He was referring to His body; but it wasn’t until three years later, after His resurrection, that the disciples put this all together and more fully believed what Jesus had told them.

The people were astonished at the reports of His miraculous powers, and many believed what had been claimed about Him; but Jesus didn’t put too much stock in their support, knowing how fickle people can be.

Jesus’ Story – Day 5

February 22, Sunday

TemptationImmediately following his public baptism, Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, was driven by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil, Satan. He was alone except for the wild beasts that inhabited the region. He had fasted for forty days, so he was very hungry.

That was when the devil tempted Him by suggesting that He command the stones to become bread, adding derisively: “If You are the Son of God.”

Jesus, not taking His cues from the Tempter, quoted Scripture in replying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Next, the devil took Him to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem.  He, following suit, quoted Scripture to add weight to his temptation, saying, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over You to keep You,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear You up lest You dash Your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus responded with another Scripture, saying to him, “It is also written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

For his final attempt to get Jesus to submit to his counsel, Satan took Him to a very high mountain from which they could see all the kingdoms of the world and their glory at once. From there he offered Jesus rule over it all, saying, “All this authority and the honors and privileges that come with it will be Yours.  Since it has been handed over to me, I can give it to whomever I choose. All You have to do is fall down and worship me, and it’s Yours!”

Jesus’ terse and unequivocal reply was, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”

Having failed to win Jesus over, Satan left Him until a more opportune time. Then angels came to strengthen Jesus.

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Meanwhile, John continued baptizing along the Jordan River. Some of the Jewish religious leaders were sent from Jerusalem to investigate. They asked whether he considered himself to be the Messiah, a reincarnation of Elijah, or perhaps the Prophet predicted in their ancient writings. John flatly denied those roles, saying that the One they were describing was, in fact, among them.  He went on to state that the Messiah, although yet to be revealed, had existed long before he had.

It was the very next day that John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One of whom I said, ‘He is greater than I am because He existed before I did.’” John also reminded the crowd that just a few weeks before he had seen the Spirit descend upon Him from heaven in the form of a dove. “God had revealed to me,” he went on to say, “that this would be the visible confirmation of the arrival of the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. I saw it and I’m testifying: here He is, the Son of God.”

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The next day Jesus passed the place where John and two of his disciples were standing. John again told them, “There is the Lamb of God.”

Immediately the two disciples of John left him and began to follow Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them coming and asked what they were looking for.

“Where are you staying, Teacher?” they asked.

“Come and see” was Jesus’ reply. So they went along and spent the day with Him. One of them, whose name was Andrew, quickly found his brother, Simon Peter, and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” He brought him to Jesus.

When Jesus met Simon, He said, “So you are Simon, son of Jonah. I will change your name to Cephas (which means stone).”