The words of Jesus in modern verse

paraphrased and annotated by Donivan Bessinger

1. Ministry

[Sections 1-20]

1. In the temple. When Jesus was twelve, his parents, thinking for three days that he was lost, found him in the temple.

Why would you be surprised 
   to find me here?
Why should I not be in my father's house?

     [1] [T]

2. Baptism. When Jesus presented himself to be baptized, John protested, saying Jesus should baptize him instead.

Go ahead, do as I ask
So that all things can be
As they should be.

     [2] [T] 

3. Temptation When he retreated to the wilderness before starting his ministry, Jesus was tempted to turn stones into loaves of bread; to jump from the pinnacle of the temple; and to seek political power.

Scripture says,
We cannot live only on bread.
We must live by the Word of God.
Scripture says, 
Don't tempt God.
Get out of here, Satan!
Scripture says, 
Worship God! only God!

     [3] [T] 

4. In the synagogue Jesus read a passage from Isaiah. Some of the people were astonished that Joseph's son could teach so eloquently.

`The Lord's Spirit is upon me --                                                  a
He has sent me to preach the good news to the poor
He has sent me to heal the hearts that are broken
He has sent me to declare that prisoners are released
   and that the blind can now see
That those who are oppressed are now set free
That God is doing all of this now.'
Today, all of this is coming true                                                    b
Just as you are hearing me read it.

     [4] [T] 

5. Out of the synagogue. Some objected that he had no right to say that. At his reply, they drove him out of the synagogue.

I suppose you're going to quote                                                   a
   that old proverb
   `Physician, heal yourself'!
I suppose you're going to say                                                      b
What you did in Capernaum,
 Do here!
A prophet is not honored                                                            c
   In his own country,
   In his own house.
Remember the days of Elijah?                                                     d
When the heavens dried up
   for three and a half years, with great famine
He came only to one old widow.
Remember the days of Elisha?
There were many lepers, but
Elisha healed only one of them.

     [5] [T] 

6. Jesus called others to join him.

So, you are Simon,  Jona's son?                                                  a
I will call you  “Rock”.
Come with me!                                                                           b
We'll fish for people!
Come with me!                                                                           c
Let the `dead' bury their own dead, 
But you, proclaim God's living realm.
If you look back                                                                         d
While you're plowing
You aren't fit
For the spiritual realm.
Come and see.                                                                            e
Foxes have holes                                                                        f
Birds have nests
   but I 
Have no place to lay my head.
There is a very full harvest                                                           g
Pray God to send workers to bring in the harvest.
Here is a man                                                                              h
Who is totally
Honest and sincere.
         **  [R: How do you know me?]
I saw you when you were
   under the fig-tree.
        **   [ R: You are the son of God, king of Israel ! ]
Do you believe simply because                   
I saw you under the fig-tree?
You will see greater things than that.
Truly, you will see the heavens opened
And angels descending with the

     [6] [T] 

7. To the disciples, sent on a special mission.

This is a mission to the lost sheep of Israel.
For now, stay out of Gentile and Samaritan towns.
As you go,
   Preach, God's spiritual realm is here!
   Heal the sick.
   Raise the dead.
   Make the lepers whole.
   Dispel evil.
What you have, you received without pay. 
Give without pay.
Take no money with you                                                              a
No baggage
Not even an extra coat or sandals
Nor a walking stick.
The worker deserves being fed.
When you enter a town,
   find a worthy person,
   stay there
While you are in that town.
When you enter that house 
Say the blessing of Peace!
If they honor peace there,
   your Peace will be a blessing to them.
If not,
   your Peace will be a blessing to you.
If any town doesn't receive you, don't worry. 
Don't let their dust weight you down.                                           b
But in truth, Sodom and Gomorrah
Will be judged better than they.
But watch out! I am sending you out
Like sheep to wolves --
   Be wise as serpents.
   Be innocent as doves.
Be careful.                                                                                  c
People will turn you over to the councils
They will abuse you in their assemblies
They will drag you to courts.
When they do,
Don't worry about what to say.
You will know what to say
For it is not you who is speaking
It is the Spirit of God speaking through you.
Brothers will condemn brothers to death,
And the father, his child.
Children will rise against their parents
   and put them to death,
And you will be hated for the sake of my name
But if you endure to the end,
   your psyche will be freed to live.                                              d
When they abuse you in one town, 
Go to the next.
You will not get to all the towns of Israel
   before the Image-of-God comes.

     [7] [T] 

8. More on discipleship

A disciple does not rank higher than the teacher                           a
   but when taught, is only like the teacher.
A servant is not greater than the employer
   but is expected to be like the employer.
Nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sends.                b
If they call the head of the house a devil
They are certainly going to give bad names
   to the household, too.
   Don't fear them.
Everything which is covered will be revealed.                               c
Everything which is hidden will be made known.
What I tell you in secret, make it openly known.
What I whisper to you, shout all over town.
Do not fear those who can kill the body 
   but cannot kill the soul.
No, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul
   in the spiritual fire.
Two sparrows are sold for only a penny, 
But they can fall to the ground
   only within the Beloved Creator's will.
God has not forgotten a one of them.
Even the hairs on your own heads are numbered.
But don't worry.
You have more value than many sparrows!
Well then, if you recommend me to others 
I will recommend you to the Beloved Creator.
But if you deny me to others
I will deny you to the Beloved Creator.
I came to set                                                                               d
   the earth on fire!
How I wish it were
   already ignited!
I must be plunged into                                                                 e 
   my own `baptism' 
I feel so tied up
Until it can all be finished!
Don't think that I am here to bring peace to Earth.                        f 
No, I don't bring peace
   but a sword which divides.
It divides households
   three from two
   two from three
   father from son
   son from father
   mother from daughter
   daughter from mother
   mother-in-law from daughter-in-law
   daughter-in-law from mother-in-law.
Your foes can be in your own household.
If you love your father or mother more than me                            g   
Then you're not worthy of me.
If you love your son or daughter more than me
   Then you're not worthy of me.
If you don't endure your own cross and follow me
   Then you're not worthy of me.
If you find your life                                                                    h
   you lose it.
If you lose your life for my sake
   you find it.
The one who receives you  
   receives me,
Receives the one who sent me.
If you receive one of the clergy                                                    i
Just because of the collar
Then you get the clergy's reward.
If you receive one who is good  
   Just because of the goodness
Then you get that person's reward.
If you, as my disciple  
Give even a cup of cool water to little children
You'll not loose your reward, either,
   That's for sure.

     [8] [T] 

9. Counting the cost.

If you do not hate them all --                                                        a
   father, mother,
   wife, children
   brothers, sisters
Yes, and even your own life --
If you don't endure your own cross and follow me
Then you're not my disciple.
If any one of you 
Wanted to build a castle                                                              b
   you would first sit down
   and figure up the costs
To be sure you could complete it.
You would not want to quit
   with just a foundation.
Your neighbors would ridicule you
   for not finishing
   what you had started.
Or what general at war                                                                c
       facing the enemy
Would not stop to figure out the odds?
Can ten thousand
     conquer twenty thousand?
If not, while the enemy is still far off
The general sends a delegation
     seeking peace.
If you do not renounce everything
Then you're not my disciple.

     [9] [T] 

10. Not our kind of spirit When Jesus and the disciples were not welcomed in a village, James and John wanted to destroy it.

That's not our kind of spirit.
The Image-of-God did not come
   to destroy people's lives
But to heal them.

     [10] [T] 

11. Healing. Jesus was ``moved with compassion'' (Mk 1:41) to minister to suffering people, sometimes only ``with a word'' (Mt 8:16), sometimes with admonitions and teaching.

      -to the evil within a disturbed man-
Be quiet!                                                                                     a
Come out of him!
      -to a disturbed man who was healed-
Go home                                                                                    b
Tell your friends how much 
    God has done for you
How much mercy
    God has shown to you.
      -to a leper-
I will heal you. Be whole.                                                             c
Keep it a secret for now,
But go to the temple.
Make the thanksgiving offering Moses prescribed.
      -to a Roman officer seeking healing for his servant-

Never have I seen such trust,                                                       d
Even among our own people.
Yes, what you believed could be done
Will be done.
I tell you, in the spiritual realm
People will come from east and west,
To dine with Abraham, Isaac and Moses,
But people who thought they would get there
    by right
Will be thrown into the farthest darkness.
For them, there will be much despair.
      -to a nobleman in Cana, seeking healing for his son-
You will not believe                                                                     e
Unless you see
Extraordinary sights.
Go. your son lives.
      -to a paralyzed man-
Be glad! Your sins are forgiven.                                                   f
Why do you question that?
What's the difference?
   To say `your sins are forgiven'
   Or to say, `Stand up and walk?'
The Image-of-God on earth has power to forgive sins.
I want you to know that.
Stand up. Pick up your bedroll and walk.
Look! You are well.                                                                    g
Keep on track
So that something worse
Will not happen to you.
      -to a woman-
Who has touched me?                                                                 h
Daughter, take courage
Your trust has made you whole.
Go in peace.
Be healed.
      -to Jairus' household-
Trust.                                                                                          i
She will be well.
Don't worry
   She is not dead
   She is sleeping.
Little girl, get up!
      -to a blind man-
Do you trust that I can heal you?                                                 j
Then let it happen, just as you believe.
But keep this a secret for now.

     [11] [T] 

12. Ten lepers Jesus told ten lepers to present themselves to the priests; on the way they were healed; only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank him.

Were not ten made whole?                                                          a
Where are the nine?
Could only one foreigner
Return to praise God?
Stand up and go.
Your trust
Has made you well.
     [12] [T] 

13. Eating with tax collectors Religious leaders criticized Jesus for dining with despised people like Matthew and others, `tax collectors and sinners'.

People who are well don't need a physician,
   Only those who are sick.
You need to learn what this means:
`I desire mercy, and not sacrifice’                                                a
I am here to teach sinners the need for goodness, 
Not those who are good already.

     [13] [T] 

14. During a storm on the lake.
                       Oh, you have so little trust!
                      Why are you afraid?
                             Be still.

                                   [14]   [T]

15. On the water. When Jesus appeared to the disciples on the water at night, the disciples were afraid; Peter asked to walk to him.

Don't worry.
It is I.
Don't be afraid.
You have so little trust!
Why do you doubt?

     [15] [T] 

Feeding thousands. After the disciples returned from their mission, Jesus wanted to take them on a private retreat, but a large crowd gathered; the only food the disciples could find for them was a few loaves and fish.

Come.                                                                                        a
Let us go to a
   quiet place
   by ourselves.
Let us rest awhile.
The crowd has been with me three days.                                     b
I am worried, they haven't eaten.
If we send them away
   they will faint on the road.
Do not send them away
Feed them.
Where could we buy bread                                                         c
So that these people can eat?
How much bread do we have?                                                    d
Bring what you have to me. 
Have the people sit
In small groups.

     [16] [T] 

17. Jesus often preached to large crowds.

Turn yourselves around!                                                              a
The spiritual realm is here right now.
Believe this good news!
I must preach the good news                                                       b
   to other cities too.
I must preach of the spiritual realm,
That is why I was sent to you.

     [17] [T] 

18. A delegation from John asked if Jesus were the expected Messiah.

Just tell John what you see and hear:
   The blind begin seeing
   The lame now walk
   Lepers are made whole
   The deaf hear.
   The poor have good news preached to them.
And anybody who doesn't find me offensive                                a
   is really happy!

     [18] [T] 

19. Message to Herod when told that Herod wanted to kill him.

Go tell that fox
I'll be casting out evil and healing                                                 a
Today and tomorrow,
And the third day I'll finish up.
And say   
I will be traveling toward Jerusalem
Today and tomorrow, 
And the third day.
It wouldn't do for a prophet
To die away from Jerusalem!

     [19] [T] 

20. In the Temple   In the temple, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers; on another visit, the Pharisees challenged his authority.

Scripture says                                                                             a
`My house shall be called
   a house of prayer for everyone'
But you have made it
   into a robber's cave.
Let me ask you a question.                                                          b
If you answer,
Then I will tell you
By what authority
I do such things --
   Does the baptism of John
   come from heaven
   or from earth?
     **  [R: “We do not know.”]  
Then I will not tell you
By what authority
I do such things.
But what do you think
   about this?
A man had two children.
He said to the first
   `Go work in the vineyard.'
The first answered, `No'
But then went anyway.
He said to the second
   `Go work in the vineyard.'
The second answered, `Yes'
But did not go.
Which, then, 
   did the father's will?
This is true --
Tax collectors and harlots
Will enter the spiritual realm
   before you do.
John came to you
Walking the way of goodness                                      c
And you did not believe him.
The tax collectors and harlots
   believed him.
But when you saw him
   you did not believe him
   you did not repent.
     [20] [T] 

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