The Story of Jesus


Chapter 9—Early Ministry

From the wilderness, Christ returned to the Jordan, where John the Baptist was preaching. At that time men sent by the rulers at Jerusalem were questioning John as to his authority for teaching and baptizing the people. SJ 49.1

They asked if he was the Messiah, or Elijah, or “that prophet,” meaning Moses. To all this he answered, “I am not.” Then they asked: “Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. SJ 49.2

“He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” John 1:22, 23. SJ 49.3

In old times when a king had to travel from one part of his country to another, men were sent ahead of his chariot to prepare the roads. SJ 49.4

They had to cut down trees, gather out the stones, and fill up the hollows, so that the way would be clear for the king. SJ 49.5

So when Jesus, the heavenly King, was coming, John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way by telling the people, and calling on them to repent of their sins. SJ 49.6

As John answered the messengers from Jerusalem, he saw Jesus standing on the riverbank. His face lighted up, and stretching out his hands, he said: SJ 50.1

“There standeth One among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” John 1:26, 27. SJ 50.2

The people were greatly moved. The Messiah was among them! They looked about eagerly to find the One of whom John had spoken. But Jesus had mingled with the multitude, and was lost to sight. SJ 50.3

The next day John again saw Jesus, and, pointing to Him, cried: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” SJ 50.4

Then John told of the sign that had been seen at Christ's baptism. “I saw, and bare record,” he added, “that this is the Son of God.” John 1:29, 34. SJ 50.5

With awe and wonder the hearers looked upon Jesus. They questioned with themselves, Is this the Christ? SJ 50.6

They saw that Jesus bore no tokens of worldly wealth or greatness. His clothing was plain and simple, such as poor people wore. But in His pale, worn face was something that moved their hearts. SJ 50.7

In that face they read dignity and power; and every glance of the eye, every feature of the countenance, spoke of divine compassion and unutterable love. SJ 50.8

But the messengers from Jerusalem were not drawn to the Saviour. John had not said that which they desired to hear. They expected the Messiah to come as a great conqueror. They saw that this was not the mission of Jesus, and in disappointment they turned from Him. SJ 50.9

The next day John again saw Jesus, and again he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John 1:36. Two of John's disciples were standing near, and they followed Jesus. They listened to His teaching, and became His disciples. One of the two was Andrew, the other John. SJ 51.1

Andrew soon brought to Jesus his own brother, Simon, whom Christ named Peter. The next day, on the way to Galilee, Christ called another disciple, Philip. As soon as Philip found the Saviour, he brought his friend Nathaniel. SJ 51.2

In this way Christ's great work on earth was begun. One by one He called His disciples, and one brought his brother, another his friend. This is what every follower of Christ is to do. As soon as he himself knows Jesus, he is to tell others what a precious Friend he has found. This is a work that all can do, whether they are young or old. SJ 51.3

At Cana in Galilee, Christ, with his disciples, attended a marriage feast. For the happiness of this household gathering, His wonderful power was put forth. SJ 51.4

It was the custom in that country to use wine on such occasions. Before the feast was ended, the supply of wine had failed. The lack of wine at a feast would be thought to show a want of hospitality, and this was regarded as a great disgrace. SJ 51.5

Christ was told of what had happened, and He bade the servants fill six large stone jars with water. Then He said, “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.” John 2:8. SJ 51.6

Instead of water, there came forth wine. This wine was much better than that which had been served before, and there was enough for all. SJ 51.7

After working the miracle, Jesus quietly went away. Not till He had gone, did the guests know of the work He had done. SJ 53.1

Christ's gift to the marriage feast was a symbol. The water represented baptism, and the wine His blood, that was to be shed for the world. SJ 53.2

The wine which Jesus made was not fermented liquor. Such wine is a cause of drunkenness and many great evils, and God had forbidden its use. He says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” “It biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” Proverbs 20:1; 23:32. SJ 53.3

The wine used at the feast was the pure, sweet juice of the grape. It was like that which the prophet Isaiah calls “the new wine in the cluster;” and he says, “A blessing is in it.” Isaiah 65:8. SJ 53.4

By going to the marriage feast, Christ showed that it is right to meet together in this pleasant way. He liked to see people happy. Often He visited them in their homes, and tried to have them forget their cares and their troubles, and think of God's goodness and His love. Wherever He might be, Christ was always trying to do this. Wherever a heart was open to receive the divine message, He unfolded the truths of the way of salvation. SJ 53.5

One day, as He was passing through the country of Samaria, He sat down by a well to rest. When a woman came to draw water, He asked her for a drink. SJ 53.6

The woman wondered at this, for she knew how the Jews hated the Samaritans. But Christ told her that if she would ask of Him, He would give her living water. At this she wondered the more. Then Jesus said to her: SJ 53.7

“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13, 14. By the living water is meant the Holy Spirit. As a thirsty traveler needs water to drink, so do we need God's Spirit in our hearts. He who drinks of this water shall never thirst. SJ 55.1

The Holy Spirit brings God's love into our hearts. It satisfies our longings, so that the riches and honors and pleasures of this world do not attract us. And it fills us with such joy that we want others to have it too. It will be in us like a spring of water, that flows out in blessing to all around. SJ 55.2

And every one in whom God's Spirit dwells, will live forever with Christ in His kingdom. Received into the heart by faith, it is the beginning of the life eternal. SJ 55.3

This precious blessing Christ told the woman He would give her if she asked for it. So He will give it to us. SJ 55.4

This woman had broken God's commandments, and Christ showed her that He knew the sins of her life. But He showed, too, that He was her friend, that He loved and pitied her, and that if she was willing to forsake her sins, God would receive her as His child. SJ 55.5

How glad she was to know this! In her joy she hurried away to the town near by, and called the people to come and see Jesus. SJ 55.6

So they came to the well, and asked Him to stay with them. He remained two days, and taught them, and many listened to His words. They repented of their sins, and believed on Him as their Saviour. SJ 55.7

During His ministry, Jesus twice visited His old home at Nazareth. At the first visit He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. SJ 56.1

Here He read from Isaiah's prophecy about the work of the Messiah—how He was to preach good tidings to the poor, to comfort the sorrowing, to give sight to the blind, and to heal those that were bruised. SJ 56.2

Then He told the people that all this was fulfilled that day. This was the work that He Himself was doing. SJ 56.3

At these words the hearers were filled with joy. They believed that Jesus was the promised Saviour. Their hearts were moved upon by the Holy Spirit, and they responded with fervent amens and praises to the Lord. SJ 56.4

Then they remembered how Jesus had lived among them as a carpenter. Often they had seen Him working in the shop with Joseph. Though in His whole life there had been only deeds of love and mercy, they would not believe that He was the Messiah. SJ 56.5

By such thoughts as these they opened the way for Satan to control their minds. Then they were filled with wrath against the Saviour. They cried out against Him, and determined to take His life. SJ 56.6

They hurried Him away, meaning to throw Him over the steep side of a hill. But holy angels were near to protect Him. He passed safely through the crowd, and was not to be found. SJ 56.7

The next time He came to Nazareth, the people were no more ready to receive Him. He went away, never to return. SJ 56.8

Christ worked for those who wanted His help, and all through the country the people flocked about Him. As He healed and taught them, there was great rejoicing. Heaven seemed to come down to the earth, and they feasted upon the grace of a merciful Saviour. SJ 57.1