John the Baptist, son of the priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, had, in accordance with angel Gabriel's prophecy begun to baptize people and to prepare them to receive the Light of the Lord Jesus. Lord Jesus was now about thirty years of age, and sought John to be baptized by him on the banks of the river Jordan. John recognised Jesus's Divinity and asked: "Dost Thou come to me, when I have need to be baptized by Thee?" But the Lord had determined to set an example to mankind: spiritual illumination can be had through a Guru (Preceptor). The moment the baptism was complete, Lord Jesus saw a vision of God's spirit descending like a dove and alighting upon Him, and He heard a heavenly voice say: "Thou art my beloved son, I am well pleased with thee."
Even John the Baptist had often declared that Lord Jesus was greater than he. But look at the Lord's devotion to His Preceptor! He said: "Of those born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist." Devotion to the Guru (Preceptor) is the key that unlocks the realms divine: and even the Supreme Being, the Mass of supreme Consciousness, when He descends upon this earth, sets a great example in Guru-Bhakti.
After the baptism, Lord Jesus resorted to seclusion in the wilderness and practised extreme austerities and fasted. At the end of 40 days of such fasting He was hungry. Austerities and meditation had, no doubt, earned for Him divine powers to work miracles. And, the Lord did perform miracles to save people and to heal them. "Why not use those powers now, convert stones into bread, and appease your hunger," tempted Satan, the Evil One. But, Lord Jesus resolutely refused to yield to this temptation, saying: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God." Then, again, the temptation arose to test the miraculous powers; "Why not throw yourself from a high tower of the temple; if you are God's Son, angels shall bear Thee up," whispered Satan, the Evil One. But once again Lord Jesus brushed the tempter aside, saying: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." A third temptation was placed before Him, when the Evil One took Him to the top of a high mountain, showed Him the world, and said: "All these will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me." But, will Lord Jesus agree? No. He grew stern and rebuked: "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written in the Scriptures, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve'." The Evil One disappeared and the angels ministered to the Lord.
In this great incident of His Life, the Lord had not only given us three most inspiring pieces of instruction, but had also warned by his own example that psychic powers are to be considered as obstacles on his path by the true spiritual aspirant, and that even if, by His Grace, these powers do come to him, he should never even think of utilising them for his selfish ends. Even when his life was at stake, Lord Jesus would not use His miraculous powers to prevent His being crucified. All the miracles He performed during His travels were prompted by the supreme compassion of His heart which overflowed with love and mercy towards all beings. He healed the sick and even raised the dead. But what he really did was to cast out the devils from the persons whom he healed. Their past evil deeds and their hidden evil tendencies had taken the form of their physical and mental ailments. Jesus reclaimed the lost souls and restored to them their pristine purity: He obtained for them, the Lord's Mercy and Pardon. In his radiant Presence, they not only had great faith in God, but they felt a real eagerness to follow Lord Jesus and lead a new, divine life in accordance with His instructions. It was this faith and this true repentancerepentance that was at once translated into a complete self-reformationthat drew forth from Lord Jesus, His compassionate Healing Grace.
Jesus, after the period of His seclusion and austerities, came back to his native village, eager to impart His wisdom to his fellow-men. John the Baptist had already declared to the people that the Kingdom of God was at hand and called upon people to repent with a contrite heart and effect a change of heart in themselves in order to be able to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus, too, began with a repetition of this Message. But, whereas John had painted God as a stern Judge, Lord Jesus spoke of Him as the All-Merciful Father Who loved to save the sinner. To Lord Jesus, faith in God, earnestness in prayer, and ethical discipline ranked far above religious observances and ceremonies. This made Him the friend of the oppressed and repressed sections of the people and those whom the orthodox church had excommunicated. Jesus welcomed them all, forgave their sins, and blessed them. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest," said He; and thousands sought Him and found peace and solace at His feet. One of His chosenTwelvedisciples was a publican, rejected and despised by the orthodox Jews. And, one of the greatest and closest of his followers was Mary Magdalene who was so sinful that it is said, Lord Jesus cast out seven devils from her.
One day as Lord Jesus was passing by, a crowd had collected around a woman who had been charged with adultery and had been sentenced "to be stoned to death." As the crowd was about to carry out this execution Lord Jesus came upon the scene. Such was the magnetic and divine personality that he possessed that the people instinctively obeyed His command to desist from the cruel act. When he had heard their story of the woman's "unpardonable" sin, He quietly said: "Let him that is without sin among you, cast the first stone on her." This powerful utterance of the Lord at once turned the gaze of each one there within himself. Who could be without sin? Introspection revealed their own defects. One by one, the people hung their heads down and left the place. "Where are they," Lord Jesus asked the woman, "did no man condemn thee?" "No, my Lord," said she. "Neither do I condemn thee; go thy way and sin no more," said the Lord summing up in this beautiful incident the very essence of His Divine Message.
On another occasion, when a devotee, bathed Lord Jesus' feet with her tears, wiping them with her hairs and applying precious ointment over them, the Lord blessed her and granted her forgiveness for all her sins. This enraged some of the people, who questioned His right to grant forgiveness for sins.
By now the first disciples had gathered around Lord Jesus. The Pharisees on one occasion found Jesus's disciples plucking corn on Sabbath Day and eating it. When this was brought to the notice of the Lord, He said: "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath; so that the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." This greatly displeased the Pharisees who waited for another opportunity.
While Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on a Sabbath Day the Pharisees brought to him a sick man, wishing to find out if he would heal him on the Sabbath Day. Jesus turned upon them and asked: "Is it right to do good, or evil, on Sabbath Day?" They were unable to answer. Jesus turned to the sick man and healed him. This had conclusively set the Pharisees against Him.
Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of the Passover and Nicodemus, one of the chief Pharisees, met the Lord at night. Though Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus to be a teacher who had come from God, he said: "I am not able to understand and appreciate all that you teach." To this the Lord replied in words pregnant with deep spiritual import: "A man must be born again if he is to see the Kingdom of Godreborn not of the body, but in the spiritual sense." Lord Jesus proclaimed that a true change of heart constituted this rebirth.
On his way back to Galilee from Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria. At Sychar He took rest near a well, while His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. A Samaritan woman came to the well to fetch water; and the Lord asked her to give Him some water to drink. She hesitated as no Jew could have anything to do with Samaritans. The Lord then told her of her past life. At once she understood that Lord Jesus was a Prophet; and He, too, admitted that He was the Messiah. The surprised woman at once spread the news to all the people of the city and they gathered around him, proclaiming: "This is truly the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
When Lord Jesus had returned to Cana, a nobleman approached Him and prayed to Him for His Healing Grace upon his boy who was lying dangerously ill at Capernaum. The Lord replied: "Go your way, for your son will live." At the very moment the Lord uttered these words, the boy had regained his health. Even as the nobleman returned to Capernaum, his servants greeted him with this happy news.