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The Work of John the Baptizer

3 1It was the 15th year of the rule of Tiberius Caesar.* These men were under Caesar: Pontius Pilate, the ruler of Judea; Herod,* the ruler of Galilee; Philip, Herod's brother, the ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, the ruler of Abilene. 2Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests.* At that time, a command from God came to John, the son of Zechariah. John was living in the desert. 3John went through the whole area around the Jordan River. He told the people [God's message]. John told them to be baptized* to show that they wanted to change their hearts and lives. Then their sins would be forgiven. 4This is like the words written in the book of Isaiah the prophet*: "There is a person shouting in the desert: 'Prepare the way for the Lord. Make his paths straight. 5Every valley will be filled. And every mountain and hill will be made flat. Roads with turns will be made straight. And rough roads will be made smooth. 6Every person will know about the salvation of God!'" Isaiah 40:3-5

7People came to be baptized* by John. John said to them, "You are like poisonous snakes! Who warned you to run away from God's anger that is coming? 8You must do the things that will show that you have really changed your hearts. Don't [boast and] say, 'Abraham is our father.' I tell you that God can make children for Abraham from these rocks here. 9The ax is now ready to cut down the trees.* Every tree that does not make good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." 10The people asked John, "What should we do?" 11John answered, "If you have two shirts, share with the person that does not have one. If you have food, share that too." 12Even the tax collectors* came to John. They wanted to be baptized.* They said to John, "Teacher, what should we do?" 13John said to them, "Don't take more taxes from people than you have been ordered to take." 14The soldiers asked John, "What about us? What should we do?" John said to them, "Don't make people give you money. Don't tell lies about anyone. Be happy with the pay you get." 15All the people were hoping [for the Christ* to come], and they wondered about John. They thought, "Maybe he is the Christ." 16John answered everyone, "I baptize* you in water, but there is a person coming later who can do more than I can. I am not good enough to untie his shoes for him. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit* and with fire. 17He will come ready to clean the grain.* He will separate the good grain from the straw. He will put the good part of the grain into his barn. Then he will burn the part that is not good. He will burn it with a fire that cannot be stopped." 18And John continued to tell the Good News,* saying many other things to help the people.

Caesar The name given to the emperor (ruler) of Rome. Herod Herod Antipas, tetrarch (ruler) of Galilee and Perea, son of Herod the Great. high priests The most important Jewish priests. baptize(d) A Greek word meaning to immerse, dip, or bury a person or thing briefly under water. prophet A person that spoke for God. Sometimes a prophet told things that would happen in the future. trees The people who do not accept Jesus. They are like "trees" that will be cut down. tax collector(s) Jews hired by the Romans to collect taxes. They often cheated, and the other Jews hated them. Christ The "anointed one" (Messiah) or chosen one of God. Holy Spirit Also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Comforter. Joined with God and Christ, he does God's work among people in the world. clean the grain John means that Jesus will separate the good people from the bad people. Good News The news that God has made a way for people to have their sins forgiven and live with him forever.

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