Chapter 2 Jesus Begins His Public Ministry
So far we have studied the first 29 years of Jesus’ life. Most of that time the Savior lived a rather normal life in Nazareth. He spent his time doing the work of a carpenter and studying the Bible. Few people knew him except his family and friends. This all changed when Jesus turned 30. From that time on his life was anything but normal. Now he spent all of his time in public ministry. He traveled throughout Palestine with his disciples （or students） and friends. Wherever he stopped to preach he gathered large crowds. Throughout the Jewish nation the name ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ became well known. This chapter describes Jesus’ early ministry from about January through December of A.D. 27. The story begins, however, six months earlier with John’s ministry.
John the Forerunner （Matt. 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18） 先行者约翰（太3:1-12;可1:1-8;路3:1-18）
John, the son of Zechariah, probably grew up in a small town near Jerusalem. From his father he learned about the special purpose for his life as described by Gabriel and the Old Testament prophets （Is. 40:3-5; Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6）。 Through his study of the Scriptures he gained wisdom concerning the true religion. However, he must have become very sad when he saw how corrupt Jewish worship had become.
Religion for most Jews meant doing many rituals and obeying complex religious laws. One important group of religious Jews, the Pharisees, gave man-made rules and regulations equal importance with the Ten Commandments. Tithes （giving 10 percent of a person’s money as an offering to God）， fasting （going without food）， religious washings, and other outward actions became all-important. Often the people forgot about God and the nature of true worship. The Pharisees also mixed politics with their religion. These Jewish patriots wanted to gain independence from the Romans at all costs. They told the people that the long awaited Messiah would be an earthly king who would drive their Roman enemies out of Palestine.
Another important religious group in Israel was the group known as the Sadducees. They tried to get along with Romans. They rejected the use of man-made laws in the church. But they also denied the resurrection of the body and that there really were angels and demons.
Perhaps as a young man John left home and moved to the desert of Judea. In the desert he lived off the land, dressed in clothes made of camel skins, and ate grasshoppers and wild honey. He also had time to think about the doctrines he had learned and the bad religious practices he had seen. Meanwhile, he waited for a message from God.
When John was 30 years old God called him into service. Soon he began preaching and baptizing. His mission was to show people their sinfulness, and, after they repented, to point them to the promised Messiah. The baptism of John had the same purpose as baptism has for us today. Through the water and the Word of God people received forgiveness of sins and, therefore, salvation.
The Baptism of Jesus （Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23） 耶稣受洗（太3:13-17;可1:9-11;路3:21-23）
John had been in the ministry for about six months when Jesus came to the Jordan River asking to be baptized. A person may ask why Jesus chose to be baptized. After all, he was sinless and therefore had no need of this sacrament that gives the forgiveness of sins. However, Jesus’ saving mission included perfectly obeying God’s law in place of mankind （Matt. 3:15; Gal. 4:4-5）。 God had commanded baptism; therefore, Jesus obeyed. But Jesus did more than just actively obey God’s law by being baptised. This was also his entrance into the public ministry. Through his baptism he clearly accepted his mission as the Savior, and received special power from the Holy Spirit to carry out his task.
At the time of Jesus’ baptism the entire Trinity appeared. Standing before John was God the Son, Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit came down in the shape of a dove, and God the Father spoke from heaven. It was only proper that all three persons of the Triune （3-in-1） God revealed themselves at this time. All three were present in the beginning and had created man in their image – perfect and holy. All three had watched as man fell into sin. Finally, all three had agreed that the only way mankind might be saved was by sending Jesus to earth to live a perfect life and die a perfect death. On this special day the Three-in-One God was publicly showing that Jesus had come to bring salvation to all people.
Jesus Tempted by Satan （Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13） 耶稣受撒旦试探（太4:1-11;可1:12-13;路4:1-13）
After Jesus was baptized he went into the desert to pray. Because of his human nature, Jesus felt a very real need to talk with his heavenly Father. Here, as throughout his life, Christ spent time in prayer before and after special events.
For a full 40 days Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert. Meanwhile Satan constantly tempted him to sin. （“Satan” is a Hebrew word meaning “adversary” or “enemy;” “devil” is a Greek word meaning “slanderer” or “liar.”） The Evil One lived up to his names, especially during the last three temptations.
Satan approached Jesus with the word “If” – “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” （Matt. 4:3）。 By this simple question the Devil wanted Jesus to use his divine powers for a selfish purpose.
In the second temptation Satan offered Jesus instant glory and acceptance by the people. If Christ jumped from the top of the temple and gently floated to the ground unharmed, many worshipers would see him and immediately accept him as the Messiah. It would have been sinful for Christ to put himself in unnecessary danger and so test his Father’s care for him.
Finally, Satan tried to get Jesus to accept a deal: Jesus could sell his soul to the devil in exchange for earthly power and wealth. Notice how Jesus overcame every temptation by quoting the Scriptures! After the third great temptation Jesus ordered Satan to go away. Because of the power of Jesus’ word, the devil had no choice but to obey. Thus the Evil One lost a great battle with the Savior.
Jesus with John （John 1:19-34） 耶稣和约翰（约1:19-34）
After almost six weeks in the desert Jesus went back to the Jordan River and John the Baptist. The day before John had told some Jewish religious leaders that he himself was not the promised Savior, but had come to prepare his way. Now, seeing Jesus coming, John pointed to Christ and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” （John 1:29）！ With these words John simply and clearly described Jesus and his work. First John got the people’s attention. Then he gave Jesus the meaningful title of “the Lamb of God.” This name reminded people of the first Passover （Ex. 12:1-13）， when God had led his people out of Egypt long ago. At that time the blood of a lamb was painted on the door frames of every Jewish home. God then sent an angel of death who killed the firstborn son in all the houses of Egypt. But the angel “passed over” the houses where he saw the lamb’s blood on the door. Isaiah 53 later prophesied that the Messiah, like the passover lamb, would himself die so that sinners would not have to die. Jesus was that lamb.
Six Disciples Called （John 1:35-51） 耶稣呼召六个门徒（约1:35-51）
In the next two days Jesus called six men to be his disciples: Andrew and his brother Peter, John and his brother James, Philip and his friend Nathanael （also called Bartholomew）。 Jesus knew that one day he would return to his Father in heaven. Through his disciples he would leave on earth a record and witness of what he had said and done, and what it all meant.
It is interesting to study the qualities Jesus looked for in his disciples. He did not choose followers who were highly educated or very rich. It appears that John and James may have been the only disciples from middle-class families and who had some education. Nor was Jesus looking for people with one type of personality. Peter was quite outgoing and full of energy, while Andrew was quite different. What all the disciples had in common, however, was a simple sincere faith. They were anxiously waiting for the promised Messiah. Furthermore, their faith produced good works. After learning that Jesus was the promised Savior, Andrew, John and Philip right away found others and brought them to Christ.
The Wedding in Cana （John 2:1-12） 迦拿的婚宴（约2:1-12）
With his six disciples by his side Jesus returned to Nazareth. His mother, Mary, had left for Cana to attend a wedding to which he had also been invited. Since the disciples were Jesus’ friends and companions a hurried invitation was extended to them also. At the wedding the supply of wine soon ran out. This embarrassed the wedding couple and their families, because all guests invited to a wedding were to be given proper amounts of food and wine.
Mary, Jesus’ mother, felt that this was a good time for Jesus to reveal himself. For 30 years she had known in her heart that Jesus was true God, the promised Messiah. Now he had shared this secret with his disciples. Mary felt that this would be the right time for him to show others that he was God by helping the bride and groom.
Jesus’ response to Mary may seem somewhat harsh to us. He said, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come” （John 2:4）。 By saying this Jesus wished to remind Mary that she should no longer think of him only as her son. He was the Son of God.
Soon his time did come. He ordered the servants to pour water into the large stone jars that were standing nearby. When these jars were then presented to the master of the wedding, the water had changed to wine.
It may or may not be important that Jesus had brought along six disciples, and he turned six jars of water into wine. In any case, wedding guests drank some of the many gallons of wine provided by Jesus. The remainder served as a wedding gift to the young married couple.
We should note several points about this story in Jesus’ life. By going to the wedding Christ showed that he approved of marriage. He also showed his loving concern for and desire to help people with their problems in life. But above all, “He thus revealed his glory” （John 2:11） to the disciples. He proved through this miracle that he was the promised Messiah, and the disciples’ faith in Jesus increased.
First Cleansing of the Temple （John 2:13-25） 第一次洁净圣殿（约2:13-25）
The wedding at Cana probably took place some time in March of the year A.D. 27. After the wedding feast Jesus, together with his mother, brothers, and disciples, went to Capernaum for a few days. From there （most likely without Mary） they went along with the many pilgrims who were traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival.
Jesus may have made this trip each year since he was 12 years old. But this time it would be different. Now he would begin his public ministry. It was time to fulfill the 475 year old prophecy of Malachi （3:1）： “Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the Lord Almighty.”
The holy temple complex in Jerusalem was a very large group of buildings. King Herod had begun the building project 46 years earlier. The Jewish historian Josephus said, “The money spent on this work could not be counted; no building ever was more magnificent.” The real importance of the temple, however, should not have been the buildings themselves, but the worship that took place there.
God’s House was to be a place of sacrifice and prayer. God planned the sacrifices to serve two purposes. By requiring the death of an animal, God was reminding man of the cost of sin. And by requiring the life of an “innocent” animal in the place of the sinner, he was pointing forward to the Savior who one day would be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind. Because of these pictures that pointed to the results of sin and unearned salvation that came through a “substitute,” it is easy to understand why the temple was a house of prayer （Is. 56:7）。 Here sinners could come and tell God of their sorrow, repentance, hope for salvation, and thanksgiving.
However, by the time of Christ, greed had brought problems to proper temple worship. Jews and proselytes （Gentiles who had converted to the Jewish religion）， except for the women, slaves and children, had to pay a half-shekel temple tax （Exod. 30:11-16）。 Most preferred to pay during the Passover festival. Hence, there was a need for moneychangers to change the foreign money carried by many pilgrims for Jewish coins.
Herds of animals were also kept at the temple. Here Jewish pilgrims could buy the animals they wished to sacrifice to the Lord. This was much easier than bringing them from their homes far away. But a problem developed in the location of these moneychangers and animal sellers. Greedy Jewish people moved the places where they sold these things closer and closer to the temple. Finally they set up shop right in the temple courtyard. The holy temple designed for worship and prayer became filled with the noise of cattle, sheep, doves, and these sellers, as well as the smell of the animals.
Jesus did “suddenly … come to his temple.” He entered the courts, made a whip of ropes and drove out the animals. He then went to the tables of the moneychangers and tipped them over, causing their coins to roll on the ground. Finally, he went to the birdcages and ordered the doves removed.
That day Jesus not only cleansed the temple, he also publicly identified himself as the Messiah. To the merchants Jesus exclaimed （John 2:16）， “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” Christ was the Messiah and he alone could call the temple “my” Father’s house. Later, when questioned about his authority he answered in a riddle. The temple of his body would be destroyed （on the cross）， but in three days it would be rebuilt （the Resurrection）。 At the very beginning of his ministry he pointed to the end.
Jesus and Nicodemus （John 3:1-21） 耶稣和尼哥底母（约3:1-21）
In the days that followed Jesus moved among the people, taught them, and did miracles （John 2:23）。 As a result many of the pilgrims came to believe in him. The Jewish religious leaders, however, were not ready to listen to him. There was one exception, Nicodemus.
John tells us that Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin （3:1）。 From this we can be certain of several things. As a Pharisee he wished to earn salvation by obeying the laws of the Bible and the other man-made religious laws. As a member of the Sanhedrin he would help judge people accused of false teaching, worshiping false gods, or acting as false prophets. Thus, he should have had a deep understanding of the Old Testament.
To avoid being seen by other leaders, Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night. He admitted that Jesus was a rabbi （teacher of God’s word） and had divine power to do miracles. Jesus then turned the discussion to God’s plan for mankind. First the master showed Nicodemus that man by himself can never earn citizenship in the Kingdom of God. For that to happen a deep change has to take place. Through the preaching of the Word and the Baptism of repentance the Holy Spirit makes this change. Nicodemus, a student of the Bible, should have known this, but his mind had been tricked by his human reason.
Then Jesus preached the Gospel using an Old Testament picture. Long ago in the desert poisonous snakes had begun to bite God’s people （Num. 21:4-9）。 Some of the people obeyed God and looked at a bronze snake that Moses had placed on a pole. Faith in God’s promise brought them healing. But the snake was merely a picture of the spiritual salvation that was to come through Jesus Christ. Jesus would be “lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” （John 3:14-15）。
Finally, Christ showed Nicodemus that man can never earn his own salvation. Only God’s undeserved love, through Jesus, can do that. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” （John 3:16）。
Early Judean Ministry （John 3:22-36） 早期在犹太地传道 （约3:22-36）
A few days later Jesus left Jerusalem. For the next eight months （May through December, A.D. 27） He taught and baptized in the countryside of Judea （John 3:22）。 Actually, Jesus himself did not baptize, but he did so through his disciples （John 4:2）。
During this time disciples who earlier had gathered around John the Baptist began following Jesus instead. This made some of John’s disciples upset. John, however, knew what his job was in God’s plan of salvation. He directed all who would listen to Jesus Christ （John 3:22-36）。 John’s ministry was now almost completed. He had prepared the way for the Lord. Jesus the Savior would now be the center of men’s attention, while John would be put in prison, killed, and be taken to heavenly glory.