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In the beginning was God. And God created everything. He spoke. And when he did, he made the whole world and everything in it. God said, “Let there be light.” And there was – light. Then God made the skies, and the land and the water. And He made all the trees and plants that cover the earth. He made the Sun, and the moon and the stars. He filled the seas with fish. He filled the sky with birds. He made all the animals that walk on the earth. And God saw all this and saw that it was good.
Then, God took some of the soil he had made and he formed a man. And he breathed into the man, and he began to live.
God took this man and put him in a garden that God had made for him. There were all kinds of trees there. And God put two trees in the middle of the garden. The fruit from one tree gave life. The other tree gave the knowledge of good and evil. And God told the man, “You can eat fruit from any tree in this garden. But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For if you eat from that tree, you will die.”
Now the man was alone. So God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a companion for him.”
Then God put the man to sleep. He took a bone from the man’s side. And from it, God made a woman.
And God put them both in the garden he made for them. He blessed them. He told them to have many children and to fill the earth with people. And He told them to rule over the birds and the fish and all of the animals He had made.
The man was named Adam. The woman was named Eve. And they were both naked and felt no shame. Then God looked over all that He had made and saw that it was very good.
In the beginning, God made everything. He made the things we can see and things that we cannot see. He made spirits called angels. When He made the earth, they were there shouting with joy! God made the angels to serve Him and to honour Him.
But some of the angels rose up against God. And they became known as evil spirits. Their leader is Satan. He and his evil spirits are still working in the earth today. They work against God and God’s plans.
But God is still in control. He is stronger than all of the spirits that he created.
One day, God will judge Satan and his evil spirits. Then He will throw them all into a fire that never goes out.
Now the snake was more clever than any other animal that God had made. One day, the snake went into the garden. And Satan spoke through the snake and said to Eve.
“Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?”
Eve said, “We can eat of all of the fruit. But we can not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. God said we must not eat it or even touch it or we will die.”
The snake said, “You will not die. God knows when you eat this fruit you will be just like him. You will know everything both good and evil.
Eve looked at the fruit. She saw that it was good to eat. She saw that it could make her wise. So she took some and ate it. And then she gave some to Adam and he also ate it. At that moment something inside of them changed. They saw that they were naked and they felt shame. So they took some leaves and put them together to make clothes.
In the evening, Adam and Eve heard God walking about in the garden. When they heard him, they hid themselves among the trees.
And God said, “Adam where are you?”
Adam said, “I heard you so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.
God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the fruit that I told you not to eat?”
Adam said, “The woman you gave me brought me fruit and I ate it.”
Then God asked Eve, “What have you done?”
And she said, “The snake persuaded me and I ate some of the fruit.”
And God spoke to the snake. He said, “Because you have done this, you are cursed. You will crawl in the dust as long as you live. You and your children and the woman and her children will always be enemies. And one day you will bite her child’s foot, but he will step on your head.”
And God said to the woman, “You are going to have great pain when you give birth to a child. And you will want to rule your husband, but he will rule over you.”
And God said to Adam, “Because of what you have done, the ground is cursed. It will grow weeds. And you will have to work hard and struggle to be able to grow your own food.”
Then God made clothes for Adam and Eve from the skins of animals. And he put them out of the garden he had made for them. So the man and the woman left the garden and they could never return.
Adam and Eve had many children. Their children had children and grandchildren. Soon the earth was filled with people. But just like Adam and Eve, these people did not listen to God.
God saw that the people on the earth were always doing bad things. And God was sad that he had made people on the earth. So God said,“I will take away all the people that I have made from the earth. I will destroy every living thing that breathes.”
But there was one man who pleased God. His name was Noah.
So God came to Noah and spoke with him. God told Noah that he was going to destroy the world with a flood. He told him to build a huge boat. He told him how to make it. And he told him to gather two of every kind of animal that God had made. He was to bring them into the boat as well. And God made a promise to Noah. He told him that he would keep Noah and his family safe in the boat.
So Noah did everything that God told him to do. He built the boat. He gathered the animals. He brought food for his family and the animals too.
When he finished his work, God told Noah to get into the boat. So Noah took his wife and his family and all of the animals and got into the boat. When he did, God closed the door behind them.
Then it began to rain. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The whole earth was covered with water. The water was as high as the tallest mountains. So God destroyed every person and animal that walked on the earth. Only those in the boat were safe.
Now Noah and his family were on the boat for many months. But God did not forget Noah. Soon, the waters began to go down. And one day, God told Noah to take his family and the animals and to get off the boat. After they left the boat, Noah built an altar to worship God. And God was pleased with Noah.
Then God told Noah and his family to have many children. He told them to fill the earth with people again.
And he made another promise to Noah. God said that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood. So God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his promise. After that, whenever Noah saw a rainbow, he remembered the promise that God had made.
After the flood, Noah’s family grew. His children had children. And their children had children. Many years passed and the world was filled with people again.
In those days, there was a man named Abraham. He and his wife Sarah did not have any children.
When Abraham was about 75 years old, God came to him and spoke to him. He said, “Leave this land and go to the land that I will show you. I will give you many children. I will make you into a great nation. I will make your name famous. I will bless all of the nations through you.” So Abraham did what God told him to do.
When Abraham came to the land, God spoke to him again. He said, “I am going to give this land to your children.” And Abraham began to worship God.
For many years, God blessed Abraham. He became very wealthy. He had a lot of animals. He had a lot of servants. But Abraham still did not have a son.
One day, God spoke to Abraham again. This time he said, “I will protect you and reward you.”
But Abraham said, “God, what good is that if I do not have a son? One of my servants will receive all that I own.”
So God said, “Abraham, you will have a son.” Then God took him outside and said, “See the stars? Count them if you can. That’s how big your family will become.”
Abraham believed God. And God was pleased with him because he believed. So God accepted him as one who has done what is right.
One day, Abraham had put his tents near a huge tree. While he was there, God came to him and said, “About this time next year Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was 90 years old. Abraham was 100 years old. And God did keep his promise. God gave Sarah a son, just when he said he would. When Sarah saw her son, she was very happy.
And she said, “God has made me laugh. And everyone who hears our story will laugh with me.”
God did keep his promise to Abraham. And Abraham’s family grew very large. They became a great nation. They were known as the children of Abraham ~ the Jews.
Many years passed. And God began to speak to his people through men known as prophets. One of those prophets was named Samuel.
One day, God spoke to Samuel and said, ‘Go to the town of Bethlehem. There you will find a man named Jesse. I have chosen one of his sons to be the next king.’
So Samuel went to Bethlehem. He found Jesse there. And Jesse brought in his sons. When Samuel saw the oldest son, he thought, ‘This must be the one that God has chosen!’
But God said, ‘Do not be impressed by his height or his good looks. People look at the outside, but I look at the heart. I have not chosen him.’
Jesse had brought in seven of his sons. But God did not choose any of them. So Samuel asked Jesse, ‘Do you have any more sons?’
And Jesse said, ‘Yes, my youngest, David. He is out in the fields taking care of the sheep.’ And so they sent for him.
When David came in, God told Samuel, ‘This is the one I am choosing.’ So Samuel went to David and poured oil on him. He did this to show that David was God’s choice. And from that day on, God’s Spirit was with David. God even called him ‘a man after my own heart’.
After God made David king, God sent a different prophet with a message for him. And God said, ‘I chose you when you were out in the fields watching the sheep. I have been with you. I have protected you from your enemies. And I will make your name great.’ He also promised, ‘I will make sure that one of your sons will always be king. Your kingdom will last for ever.’
When David heard this, he praised God. He said, ‘God, your words are true. Make this all happen so that the whole world will know that you are God.’
GOD’S PROMISED SAVIOUR
When he was an old man, King David died. Through the years that followed, God kept speaking to his people through the prophets.
One of those prophets was named Isaiah.
Just like the other prophets, Isaiah spoke for God. He told the people not to forget God. He warned them that God would punish them if they turned away from him. But Isaiah also gave the people a message of hope.
He told them about a special person. That person would come some time in the future. He called this person the ‘servant of God’. A young virgin would be his mother. People would call him, Immanuel. Immanuel means ‘God is with us’.
The Spirit of God would be with him. He would rule the kingdom of his ancestor David. And that kingdom would never come to an end.
But ~ Isaiah said ~ not everyone would welcome this servant. Many people would hate him. They would beat him. And he would do nothing to stop them.
He would always do what is right. But people would kill him. And God would not stop them. God would let this servant die in the place of guilty people. God’s servant would suffer so that guilty people could be made right with God.
He would save his people from their sins.
For a long time after Isaiah spoke, the people had many troubles. A strong enemy came to fight them. Their army took the people away from their land. They took them to places that were far away from home. But the people did not forget the words of the prophets.
And so, they waited for the saviour God had promised.
GOD WITH US
Many years passed. It had been more than 400 years since the last prophet spoke. And the people still waited for the Promised Saviour.
In those days, a strong army from Rome ruled the people of Abraham.
Now there was a couple named Mary and Joseph. And they had promised to marry one another. They both had come from the family line of David.
One day, an angel appeared to Mary. The angel spoke and said, ‘Greetings! The Lord is with you. He has blessed you in a special way. You are going to have a son. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. And God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people for ever. His kingdom will never end.’
Mary was confused. She said, ‘How can this happen? I am a virgin. I have never been with a man.’
And the angel said, ‘Nothing is impossible with God. The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will make it so. The child will be holy. He will be called the Son of God.’
And Mary said, ‘I am God’s servant. Let this happen just as you have said.’ And the angel went away.
Soon, Mary knew she was going to have a baby.
Now Joseph was a good man. When he learned that Mary was going to have a child, he wanted to leave Mary. But he did not want many people to know about it.
But, one night, an angel came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. The child that is in her is there by the power of God’s Spirit. You are going to name him Jesus. He will save his people from their sins.’
So, when Joseph woke up, he did what the angel said. He took Mary as his wife. But he chose not to sleep with her until after the baby was born.
When it was almost time for the baby to be born, the king from Rome made a law. Every person had to return to his home town to be counted. Joseph’s family was from the town of Bethlehem. And so Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem. While they were there, the baby was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Now all of this happened to keep the promise that God made through Isaiah. ‘The virgin will give birth to a son. They will call him Immanuel ~ “God with us.”
THIS IS MY SON
After he was born in Bethlehem, Jesus grew to become a young man. When Jesus was about 30 years old, God sent a prophet to his people. His name was John. God sent him to prepare the way for Jesus. He lived in a place away from the towns. He stood near a large river and spoke to the people. And many people came to listen to what he had to say. ‘God’s kingdom is near,’ he said. ‘Turn away from your sins and turn back to God!’
And then the people asked John, ‘What should we do?’
So John said, ‘If you have two coats, give one to someone who does not have a coat. And if you have extra food give it to someone who is hungry.’
And the men who collected taxes asked him, ‘Well, what should we do?’
And John said, ‘Do not collect more taxes than you should. Do not keep the extra money for yourselves.’
And then some soldiers asked, ‘What should we do?’
So John said, ‘Do not make people give you money. Do not accuse people of things they did not do. Be happy with what you are paid.’
When people understood his message, John baptized them. He would put them down into the water. Then he would bring them back out again. This was a sign that they believed that what he said was true. That is why the people called him John the Baptist.
And then some people asked John, ‘Are you the Promised Saviour?’ But John said, ‘No, I am not the one. He is much greater than I am. I baptize you with water. But he will baptize you with God’s Spirit.’
One day, Jesus went to the river where John was speaking. He asked John to baptize him.
So John baptized Jesus. And, when Jesus came up out of the water, he prayed. And just then, the sky opened up. And God’s Spirit came down on him in the form of a small bird.
And a voice from heaven said, ‘You are my son, the one I love. I am very pleased with you.’
AT THE WELL
Jesus left the river and travelled from place to place. He chose 12 men to follow him. They were called his ‘disciples’. They were his closest students. And they went with Jesus to the towns and villages. Jesus taught the people in those places about God’s kingdom.
One day, they went through the land of the Samaritans. Now the Jews did not like the Samaritans. Long ago, some of the Jews had chosen wives who were not Jews. The Samaritans were from those families. They were a mixed people. The Jews were not pleased with this.
As they were coming up to a town, Jesus was tired. So he sat down by a well and rested. His disciples went into town to buy food.
As Jesus was sitting there, a woman came out to get some water. Jesus asked her for a drink.
She said, ‘How can you ask me for a drink? I am a Samaritan woman. You are a Jew. Your people do not have anything to do with my people.’
Jesus said, ‘If you knew who I was, then you would ask me for a drink. And I would give you living water.’
The woman replied, ‘Where are you going to get this water? You do not even have a bucket!’
And Jesus said, ‘The person who drinks from this well will need water again. But the person who drinks the water that I give will never need water again. The water that I give will bring life that lasts for ever.’
So the woman asked for some of this water. And Jesus said, ‘Go get your husband.’
But the woman said, ‘I do not have a husband.’
Jesus said, ‘You are right. In fact, you have had five husbands. And the man you are living with now – he is not your husband either.’
The woman said, ‘Sir, you must be a prophet. I know that when the Promised Saviour comes, he is going to explain many things to us.’
And Jesus said, ‘He is talking to you now—I am him.’
So the woman ran back into town. She began to tell people. ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he be the Promised Saviour?’
So the people from the town went out to see Jesus. They asked Jesus to stay with them. So he stayed with them for two days. And many of the Samaritans believed in Jesus.
Afterwards, they told the woman, ‘Now we have heard him for ourselves. We truly believe that he is the one God has promised. He is the one who will save the world.’
Jesus kept going from town to town. He did many miracles. And he healed people who were sick. The news about him spread to many places.
One day, Jesus was teaching in a house that was full of people. Some leaders of the Jews were there as well. As he was teaching, some men tried to get into the house. They had a man with them who could not walk. They were carrying him on a mat. But they could not get in because the house was too crowded.
So they took the man to the roof. They made an opening and lowered him down on his mat. They put him right in front of Jesus.
Jesus saw that these men had faith. So he said to the man on the mat, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’
As soon as he said that, some of the leaders of the Jews started to think, ‘Who does he think he is? Only God can forgive sin. What he is saying is an insult to God!’
But Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said, ‘What is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’? What I am about to do will show you that I have the authority to forgive sins.’ Then Jesus told the man on the mat, ‘Get up and walk.’
Immediately, the man got up. He rolled up his mat. Then he walked out through the middle of the crowd. And the man praised God. Then the people began praising God too. And everyone there was filled with wonder.
In those days, everyone was talking about Jesus. One night, he went to eat at a man’s home. This man was one of the leaders of the Jews.
While he was there, a woman came in. She fell down next to Jesus. And she started to cry. Her tears fell on his feet. Then she wiped the tears off his feet with her hair. She started to kiss his feet. Then she took a jar of very expensive oil. It smelled very good. And she poured it all over his feet.
When they saw this, the leaders of the Jews started thinking. They thought, ‘Jesus can not be a prophet. If he were, he would know what kind of wicked woman was touching him.’
But Jesus said, ‘I have a story for you. There were two men who owed another man money. One of them owed him 50 silver coins. The other man owed 500 silver coins. But neither of them could pay the man back. And so he forgave both of them their debts. Which man do you think loved him more?’
And the leader said, ‘I suppose the one who owed him more.’
Jesus said, ‘You are right. When I came in, you did not give me water to wash my feet. She washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You did not greet me with a kiss on the cheek. But she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not welcome me and put oil on my head. But she has poured expensive oil all over my feet. Her great love for me shows that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever is forgiven a little, shows only a little love.’
Then Jesus looked at the woman. He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’ And the people all began to say to themselves, ‘How can he forgive sins?’
Then Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’
THE SEED AND THE SOIL
Crowds of people kept coming to Jesus. And, one day,he told them a story.
He said, ‘There was a farmer who went to plant his seeds. He scattered them all over the field. And the seeds fell in different places.
Some of the seeds fell on a hard path. People walked on them. Birds came and ate them.
Other seeds fell on rocks. They grew into plants. But they did not have deep roots. So they dried up.
And some of the seeds fell among the bushes. They started to grow. But the bushes crowded out the plants. And the plants did not bear grain.
But some of the seeds fell on good soil. Those seeds grew into a crop that was a 100 times more than the farmer planted.’
Later, his disciples came to him. And they asked him, ‘Jesus, what did this story mean?’
And Jesus said, ‘The seeds in the story are like God’s word. The seed that was eaten by birds is like when people hear God’s word. But, before they can believe it, Satan comes. He steals it out of their hearts so they can not believe it.
The seed that fell on the rocks is like when people receive God’s word with joy. But they do not have any roots. When a hard time of trouble comes, they fall away.
The seed that fell among the bushes is like the people who hear God’s word. But they worry about riches and the pleasures of life. This stops them from growing. So they never produce a crop.
But the seed that fell on good soil is like people who hear God’s word. They hold on to it. And it produces in them a huge harvest.’
One day, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat. They were going to the other side of the lake. While they were going across, Jesus went to the back of the boat. He lay down and fell asleep.
Not long after that, a huge storm came. There was a lot of wind and waves. The waves came over the side of the boat. The water began to fill the boat. And the boat started to sink.
His disciples went back to where Jesus was sleeping. They said, ‘Master, wake up! Save us! We are going to drown!’
Jesus stood up. Then he spoke to the wind and the waves. ‘Be quiet,’ he said. And, immediately, the wind and the waves became calm. Then Jesus looked at his disciples and said, ‘Why were you afraid? Do you not have even a little faith?’
And his disciples looked at each other. They were surprised and in wonder. And they said, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him.’
One day, Jesus and his disciples went across the lake in a boat. In the place where they stopped, there was a man. Evil spirits were living in him. He lived near the place where they buried dead people. He ran about day and night crying out and shouting. He did not wear any clothes. And he would cut himself with sharp stones.
The people in that town would often catch him. They would tie him with chains. But he would always break the chains and get away. No one was strong enough to hold him.
When Jesus got out of the boat, this man ran down to him. He fell on his hands and knees in front of Jesus. And Jesus commanded the evil spirits to come out of him. But with a scream, the evil spirits said, ‘Jesus, son of the most high God, please do not trouble me.’
And Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ So the evil spirits said, ‘We are an army.’ They said this because many evil spirits lived in him. And they asked Jesus, ‘Do not send us to some far away place!’
Now, there was a big group of pigs feeding near them. So the evil spirits said to Jesus, ‘Send us into those pigs.’ So Jesus allowed them to do this. Then, the evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. And the pigs went crazy. They ran down the hill and into the lake. And they all drowned.
Now, some men were taking care of the pigs. When they saw this, they ran back to town. And they told everyone along the way what had happened. Soon, a large crowd of people came out to the shore of the lake to see this. And they found the man who had been filled with evil spirits. He was wearing clothes. He was quiet. And he was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
This made the people afraid. So they asked Jesus to leave their region.
So, Jesus turned to get into the boat to leave. But the man came to him and asked, ‘Can I come with you?’
But Jesus said, ‘No. Go back to your home and to your family. Tell them about this great thing that God has done for you.’ And that is what the man did. But he did not only go to his home. He went through the entire region. He told everyone what Jesus had done for him. And everyone that heard his story was astonished.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Jesus continued to teach the people. Some people believed what he said. But other people did not. One day, Jesus said that he was like a shepherd. A shepherd is a person who takes care of sheep.
He said, ‘I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep. And they know me. The Father loves me. That is because I will give my life for my sheep. No one can take my life from me. I give it freely.’
Now, the time came for a holy day in Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples were there. He walked into the place of worship. And many people came to him. They asked, ‘How long are you going to make us guess? If you are the Promised Saviour, tell us clearly.’
Jesus replied, ‘I have already told you, and you do not believe me. You do not believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to me.They hear my voice. I know them. And they follow me.’
‘I give them life that lasts for ever. They will never die. No one can take them away from me. My father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can take them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’
The people picked up stones to kill him. But Jesus said, ‘Why are you going to throw stones at me?’ And the people said, ‘You show that you do not respect God. You make yourself to be God, but you are only a man.’
Jesus answered, ‘Why do you say I do not respect God? I do my Father’s work. If I am not doing the works of my Father, do not believe me. But if I do them, believe me because of the works that I do.’
Once again, they tried to arrest Jesus. But he escaped from them and left the city.