7 1 "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults - unless, of course, you want the same treatment. 2 That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 3 It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 4 Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? 5 It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. 6 "Don't be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege.
Ask, Seek, Knock
7 "Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. 8 This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. 9 If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? 10 If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? 11 As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?
12 "Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.
The Narrow Gate
13 "Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention.
A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit
15 "Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. 16 Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned. 17 18 19 20
I Never Knew You
21 "Knowing the correct password - saying 'Master, Master,' for instance - isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience - doing what my Father wills. 22 I can see it now - at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' 23 And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'
The Two Foundations
24 "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. 25 Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit - but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. 26 "But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. 27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards." 28 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. 29 It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying - quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper
8 1 Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. 2 Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, "Master, if you want to, you can heal my body." 3 Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. 4 Jesus said, "Don't talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done."
A Centurion's Servant Healed
5 As Jesus entered the village of Capernaum, a Roman captain came up in a panic and said, 6 "Master, my servant is sick. He can't walk. He's in terrible pain." 7 Jesus said, "I'll come and heal him." 8 "Oh, no," said the captain. "I don't want to put you to all that trouble. Just give the order and my servant will be fine. 9 I'm a man who takes orders and gives orders. I tell one soldier, 'Go,' and he goes; to another, 'Come,' and he comes; to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." 10 Taken aback, Jesus said, "I've yet to come across this kind of simple trust in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know all about God and how he works. 11 This man is the vanguard of many outsiders who will soon be coming from all directions - streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God's kingdom banquet alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 12 Then those who grew up 'in the faith' but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened." 13 Then Jesus turned to the captain and said, "Go. What you believed could happen has happened." At that moment his servant became well.
Jesus Heals Peter's Mother-in-Law
14 By this time they were in front of Peter's house. On entering, Jesus found Peter's mother-in-law sick in bed, burning up with fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever was gone. No sooner was she up on her feet than she was fixing dinner for him. 16 That evening a lot of demon-afflicted people were brought to him. He relieved the inwardly tormented. He cured the bodily ill. 17 He fulfilled Isaiah's well-known sermon: He took our illnesses, He carried our diseases.
The Would-be Followers of Jesus
18 When Jesus saw that a curious crowd was growing by the minute, he told his disciples to get him out of there to the other side of the lake. 19 As they left, a religion scholar asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you, wherever," he said. 20 Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know." 21 Another follower said, "Master, excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have my father's funeral to take care of." 22 Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life."
Jesus Calms a Storm
23 Then he got in the boat, his disciples with him. 24 The next thing they knew, they were in a severe storm. Waves were crashing into the boat - and he was sound asleep! 25 They roused him, pleading, "Master, save us! We're going down!" 26 Jesus reprimanded them. "Why are you such cowards, such faint-hearts?" Then he stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea to quiet down: "Silence!" The sea became smooth as glass. 27 The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. "What's going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at his command!"
The Gergesene Demoniacs
28 They landed in the country of the Gadarenes and were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery. The men had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down that stretch of road anymore. 29 Seeing Jesus, the madmen screamed out, "What business do you have giving us a hard time? You're the Son of God! You weren't supposed to show up here yet!" 30 Off in the distance a herd of pigs was browsing and rooting. 31 The evil spirits begged Jesus, "If you kick us out of these men, let us live in the pigs." 32 Jesus said, "Go ahead, but get out of here!" Crazed, the pigs stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned. 33 Scared to death, the swineherds bolted. They told everyone back in town what had happened to the madmen and the pigs. 34 Those who heard about it were angry about the drowned pigs. A mob formed and demanded that Jesus get out and not come back.