Lesson 18 - Jesus Begins His Ministry

    Suggested Bible Reading: Mark Chapter 1 & John Chapter 3

    John the Baptist faithfully taught God's message to prepare the people to believe that Jesus was the promised Savior. Many people changed their minds about their sin. They knew they needed a Savior to save them from the judgment for their sins. However, many people did not like the preaching about their sins. They got angry at John for telling them that their life was filled with sin. King Herod, who was living a very sinful life, did not like the things which John said. He put John in prison and eventually killed him because he preached the Word of God.

    Jesus Preaches the Gospel.

    The Bible says in Mark 1:14-15, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” John had finished his work of preparing the way for the Savior before he was killed. It was now time for Jesus to begin teaching. Jesus taught the people to agree with God that they were helpless sinners and to believe the Gospel that he had come to tell them. The word gospel means good news. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus came into this world to die for our sins, to be buried, and to rise again from the dead. Satan became the ruler of this world when Adam disobeyed God and followed Satan. However, God is loving, merciful, and gracious to sinners. He sent Jesus into the world to defeat Satan and to deliver people from Satan's control. We are all born into this world under the control of Satan. Jesus said that the only way for anyone to escape Satan's control is to agree with God and believe the Gospel. The Gospel message is the powerful truth that can save you from hell, if you will believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins, and that He is the only One who can save you.

    Jesus Frees a Demon-Possessed Man.

    Jesus often demonstrated that He had power over all things, including the devil. The Bible says in Mark 1:23-25, “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” Synagogues were places where the Jews met to worship God. Unclean spirits are demons. Demons are angels who long ago rebelled against God and followed Satan. They like to live in and control people. Satan and the demons know that Jesus is their Creator. They also know he is perfect and hates all sin. This demon knew that someday he would be thrown into the Lake of Fire, and he knew that Jesus had the power to throw him into the fire right then.

    The Bible says in Mark 1:33-34, “And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.” Jesus Christ is God and felt compassion for these sick and demon-possessed people. He knew that all of these terrible things are in the world because of man's sin and the rule of Satan. God is also concerned for you. He has not changed. He is still the same today. The Lord desires to rescue everyone from Satan's control.

    Jesus Heals a Leper.

    The Bible says in Mark 1:40-42, This man knew he could not heal himself and that no ordinary man could help him, but Jesus was different. He recognized that Jesus could help him. He came to Jesus asking for his mercy and his help. The sickness of leprosy is like the sin in our lives. There is no way that we can rid ourselves of sin. Only Jesus Christ can help us. Lepers were outcasts in Bible times, and no one would even come near them. Jesus touched this man because he loved him. Jesus spoke, and the leprosy was gone.

    How is a Person Born Again?

    The Bible says in John 3:1-3, “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The Jews, and especially the Pharisees, were very proud that they were the descendants of Abraham. They thought that they were in God's family because they were Abraham's descendants. They did not realize that every person born into the world is born under Satan's rule. No one is able to know, understand, love, or obey God unless they are born again.

    Jesus told Nicodemus that the only way a person can be accepted by God is to be born again. Those who are born again are able to know, understand, love and obey God. Our good works cannot bring us out of Satan's kingdom and into God's kingdom. Only God can bring us into his kingdom. He is almighty, and nothing is impossible to him. By his power, he causes people to be born again spiritually into God's family.
    The Bible says in John 3:4-7, “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” Nicodemus was very surprised to hear what Jesus said. He thought that Jesus meant people have to be born a second time as a baby. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that every person needs both a physical birth AND a spiritual birth. The water of which Jesus spoke is not baptism. Baptism is not a spiritual birth, neither can it make us acceptable to God, nor can it wash away our sin.

    The Bible says in John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Nicodemus still could not understand how he could be born into God's family. Jesus explained by reminding him of what happened to the Jews in the wilderness. The Israelites sinned against God. He sent poisonous snakes to bite them, and many died. When they repented, God told Moses to make a brass snake and put it on a pole. God promised that whoever was bitten and looked at the brass snake would live.

    Nicodemus had been trying to keep God's laws. He did not want to admit that he was NOT able to keep all of God’s laws, because he was proud. No person is able to keep all of God’s laws! He needed to do what the Israelites had done and simply believe God. We are in the same situation as Nicodemus. All of Adam's descendants are separated from God. Unfortunately, our pride often keeps us from admitting our hopeless condition before God. The Israelites could not save themselves from the snakes, just like we cannot save ourselves from sin and death. God delivered the Israelites, and only God can deliver us. Jesus said there is only one way we can be delivered from Satan, sin, and death, and that is to be born again into God's family. Jesus said that he must be lifted up, just as the brass snake was in the wilderness, so that whoever trusts in him will be accepted by God and live forever with God in Heaven.

    No one needs to wait until he dies to know if he will be accepted or rejected by God. Those who do nothing with the Savior are condemned and rejected by God right now. Those who repent and trust in the Savior are not condemned, but are accepted by God.

    Study Questions

    1. King Herod put John the Baptist in prison and murdered him because he the Word of God.
    2. The word "gospel" means .
    3. The message of the gospel is that Jesus , was buried, and .
    4. Why is the Gospel good news to you?
    5. You were born into this world under the control of Satan.
    6. How can a person be born again?...
    7. Baptism is a spiritual birth and helps wash away sin.
    8. Our keeps us from admitting our hopeless condition before God.
    9. The only way to be delivered from Satan, sin, and death is to be into God’s family.
    10. You can know right now whether you have been accepted or rejected by God.

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