Once again an immense crowd gathered around him on the beach as he was teaching, so he got into a boat and sat down and talked from there. His usual method of teaching was to tell the people stories. One of them went like this:

“Listen! A farmer decided to sow some grain. As he scattered it across his field, some of it fell on a path, and the birds came and picked it off the hard ground and ate it. 5-6 Some fell on thin soil with underlying rock. It grew up quickly enough, but soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and crowded the young plants so that they produced no grain. But some of the seeds fell into good soil and yielded thirty times as much as he had planted—some of it even sixty or a hundred times as much! If you have ears, listen!”

10 Afterwards, when he was alone with the Twelve and with his other disciples, they asked him, “What does your story mean?”

11-12 He replied, “You are permitted to know some truths about the Kingdom of God that are hidden to those outside the Kingdom:

‘Though they see and hear, they will not understand or turn to God, or be forgiven for their sins.’

13 But if you can’t understand this simple illustration, what will you do about all the others I am going to tell?

14 “The farmer I talked about is anyone who brings God’s message to others, trying to plant good seed within their lives. 15 The hard pathway, where some of the seed fell, represents the hard hearts of some of those who hear God’s message; Satan comes at once to try to make them forget it. 16 The rocky soil represents the hearts of those who hear the message with joy, 17 but, like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep, and though at first they get along fine, as soon as persecution begins, they wilt.

18 “The thorny ground represents the hearts of people who listen to the Good News and receive it, 19 but all too quickly the attractions of this world and the delights of wealth, and the search for success and lure of nice things come in and crowd out God’s message from their hearts, so that no crop is produced.

20 “But the good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a plentiful harvest for God—thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as was planted in their hearts.” 21 Then he asked them, “When someone lights a lamp, does he put a box over it to shut out the light? Of course not! The light couldn’t be seen or used. A lamp is placed on a stand to shine and be useful.

22 “All that is now hidden will someday come to light. 23 If you have ears, listen! 24 And be sure to put into practice what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand what I tell you. 25 To him who has shall be given; from him who has not shall be taken away even what he has.

26 “Here is another story illustrating what the Kingdom of God is like:

“A farmer sowed his field 27 and went away, and as the days went by, the seeds grew and grew without his help. 28 For the soil made the seeds grow. First a leaf blade pushed through, and later the heads of wheat formed, and finally the grain ripened, 29 and then the farmer came at once with his sickle and harvested it.”

30 Jesus asked, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story shall I use to illustrate it? 31-32 It is like a tiny mustard seed! Though this is one of the smallest of seeds, yet it grows to become one of the largest of plants, with long branches where birds can build their nests and be sheltered.”

33 He used many such illustrations to teach the people as much as they were ready to understand.[a] 34 In fact, he taught only by illustrations in his public teaching, but afterwards, when he was alone with his disciples, he would explain his meaning to them.

35 As evening fell, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took him just as he was and started out, leaving the crowds behind (though other boats followed). 37 But soon a terrible storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water and about to sink. 38 Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they wakened him, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are all about to drown?”

39 Then he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet down!” And the wind fell, and there was a great calm!

40 And he asked them, “Why were you so fearful? Don’t you even yet have confidence in me?”

41 And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, “Who is this man, that even the winds and seas obey him?”

Footnotes

  1. Mark 4:33 as much as they were ready to understand, literally, “as they were able to hear.”
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Parable of the Sower(A)(B)

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake.(C) The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables,(D) and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.(E) As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”(F)

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”(G)

10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God(H) has been given to you. But to those on the outside(I) everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a](J)

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word.(K) 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan(L) comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth(M) and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

A Lamp on a Stand

21 He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?(N) 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.(O) 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”(P)

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more.(Q) 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”(R)

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.(S) A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”(T)

The Parable of the Mustard Seed(U)

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like,(V) or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.(W) 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable.(X) But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

Jesus Calms the Storm(Y)

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.(Z) There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”(AA)

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Footnotes

  1. Mark 4:12 Isaiah 6:9,10
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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