8 Soon after this incident, Jesus preached from city to city, village to village, carrying the good news of the kingdom of God. He was accompanied by a group called “the twelve,” 2 and also by a larger group including some women who had been rescued from evil spirits and healed of diseases. There was Mary, called Magdalene, who had been released from seven demons. 3 There were others like Susanna and Joanna, who was married to Chuza, a steward of King Herod. And there were many others too. These women played an important role in Jesus’ ministry, using their wealth to provide for Him and His other companions.
4 While a huge crowd gathered with people from many surrounding towns streaming to hear Jesus, He told them a parable.
Parables are works of art, specifically, works of short fiction. They are intricately constructed and complex in their intent. In some ways, they are intended to hide the truth; they don’t reduce truth to simple statements or formulae. Instead, they force the reader to take things to a deeper level, to engage the imagination, to think and think again. In this way, they invite people to ask questions; they stir curiosity; they create intrigue.
Jesus: 5 Once a farmer went out to scatter seed in his fields. Some seeds fell along a trail where they were crushed underfoot by people walking by. Birds flew in and ate those seeds. 6 Other seeds fell on gravel. Those seeds sprouted but soon withered, depleted of moisture under the scorching sun. 7 Still other seeds landed among thorns where they grew for a while, but eventually the thorns stunted them so they couldn’t thrive or bear fruit. 8 But some seeds fell into good soil—soft, moist, free from thorns. These seeds not only grew, but they also produced more seeds, a hundred times what the farmer originally planted. If you have ears, hear My meaning!
9 His disciples heard the words, but the deeper meaning eluded them.
Disciples: What were You trying to say?
10 Jesus: The kingdom of God contains many secrets.
They keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep observing, but do not understand.[a]
I want you to understand, so 11 here’s the interpretation: The voice of God falls on human hearts like seeds scattered across a field. 12 Some people hear that message, but the devil opposes the liberation that would come to them by believing. So he swoops in and steals the message from their hard hearts like birds stealing the seeds from the footpath. 13 Others receive the message enthusiastically, but their vitality is short-lived because the message cannot be deeply rooted in their shallow hearts. In the heat of temptation, their faith withers, like the seeds that sprouted in gravelly soil. 14 A third group hears the message, but as time passes, the daily anxieties, the pursuit of wealth, and life’s addicting delights outpace the growth of the message in their hearts. Even if the message blossoms and fruit begins to form, the fruit never fully matures because the thorns choke out the plants’ vitality.
15 But some people hear the message and let it take root deeply in receptive hearts made fertile by honesty and goodness. With patient dependability, they bear good fruit.
16 You wouldn’t light a lamp and cover it with a clay pot. You’re not going to hide it under your bed. No, when you light it, you’re going to put it out in the open so your guests can feel welcome and see where they’re going.
17 Hidden things will always come out into the open. Secret things will come to light and be exposed. 18 I hope you’re still listening. And I hope you’re listening carefully. If you get what I’m saying, you’ll get more. If you miss My meaning, even the understanding you think you have will be taken from you.
19 Around this time, Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people gathered in a house. His mother and brothers arrived to see Him, but the crowd around Him was so huge that they couldn’t even get through the door. 20 Word spread through the crowd.
Someone from the Crowd: Jesus, Your mother and brothers are outside the house hoping to see You.
Jesus: 21 Do you want to know who My mother and brothers are? They’re the ones who truly understand God’s message and obey it.
22 Picture this:
One day Jesus and His disciples get into a boat.
Jesus: Let’s cross the lake.
So they push off from shore and begin sailing to the far side. 23 As they progress across the lake, Jesus falls sound asleep. Soon a raging storm blows in. The waves wash over the sides of the boat, and the boat starts filling up with water. Every second the situation becomes more dangerous.
24 The disciples shake Jesus and wake Him.
Disciples (shouting): Master! Master! We’re all going to die!
Jesus wakes up and tells the wind to stop whipping them around, and He tells the furious waves to calm down. They do just that. 25 Then Jesus turns to the disciples.
Jesus: What happened to your faith?
The disciples had been terrified during the storm, but now they’re afraid in another way. They turn to each other and start whispering, chattering, and wondering.
Disciples: Who is this man? How can He command wind and water so they do what He says?
26 When they get to the other side of the lake, in the Gerasene country opposite Galilee, 27 a man from the city is waiting for Jesus when He steps out of the boat. The man is full of demonic spirits. He’s been running around for a long time stark naked, and he’s homeless, sleeping among the dead in a cemetery. 28-29 This man has on many occasions been tied up and chained and kept under guard, but each time he has broken free and the demonic power has driven him back into remote places away from human contact. Jesus commands the demonic force to leave him. The man looks at Jesus and starts screaming. He falls down in front of Jesus.
Possessed Man (shouting): Don’t torment me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! Why are You here?
Jesus (calmly and simply): 30 What’s your name?
Possessed Man: Battalion.
He says this because an army of demons is inside of him. 31 The demons start begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. 32 They plead instead to enter into a herd of pigs feeding on a steep hillside near the shore. Jesus gives them permission to do so. 33 Suddenly the man is liberated from the demons, but the pigs—they stampede, squealing down the hill and into the lake where they drown themselves.
34 The pig owners see all this. They run back to their town and tell everyone in the region about it. 35 Soon a crowd rushes from the town to see what’s going on out by the lake. There they find Jesus seated to teach with the newly liberated man sitting at His feet learning in the posture of a disciple. This former madman is now properly dressed and completely sane. This frightens the people. 36 The pig owners tell them the whole story—the healing, the pigs’ mass suicide, everything.
37 The people are scared to death, and they don’t want this scary abnormality happening in their territory. They ask Jesus to leave immediately. Jesus doesn’t argue. He prepares to leave, 38 but before they embark, the newly liberated man begs to come along and join the band of disciples.
Jesus: 39 No. Go home. Tell your people this amazing story about how much God has done for you.
The man does so. In fact, he tells everyone in the whole city how much Jesus did for him that day on the shore.
40 When Jesus and His disciples crossed the lake, another crowd was waiting to welcome Him. 41 A man made his way through the crowd. His name was Jairus, and he was a synagogue official. Like the man on the other side of the lake, this dignified man also fell at Jesus’ feet, begging Jesus to visit his home 42 where his only daughter, a girl of 12, lay dying. Jesus set out with Jairus. The crowd came along, too, pressing hard against Him.
43 In the crowd was a woman. She had suffered from an incurable menstrual disorder for 12 years [and had spent her livelihood on doctors with no effect].[b] It had kept her miserable and ritually unclean, unable to participate fully in Jewish life. 44 She followed Jesus, until she could reach Him. She touched the fringe of the robe Jesus wore, and at that moment the bleeding stopped.
Jesus (stopping and looking about): 45 Who touched Me?
Some in the Crowd (everyone speaking at once): Not me.
Another in the Crowd: It wasn’t me either.
Peter [and those with him][c] (intervening): Master, what kind of question is that, with this huge crowd all around You and many people touching You on all sides?
Jesus: 46 I felt something. I felt power going out from Me. I know that somebody touched Me.
47 The woman now realized her secret was going to come out sooner or later, so she stepped out of the crowd, shaking with fear, and she fell down in front of Jesus. Then she told her story in front of everyone—why she touched Him, what happened as a result.
Jesus: 48 Your faith has made you well again, daughter. Go in peace.
49 Right at that instant, one of Jairus’s household servants arrived.
Servant: Sir, your daughter is dead. It’s no use bothering the Teacher with this anymore.
Jesus (interrupting Jairus before he could speak): 50 Don’t be afraid. Just believe. She’ll be well again.
51-52 As they approached the house, the whole neighborhood was full of the sound of mourning—weeping, wailing, loud crying. Jesus told everyone to stay outside—everyone except Peter, John, James, and, of course, the girl’s father and mother.
Jesus (to the mourners): Please stop weeping. The girl isn’t dead. She’s only asleep.
53 They knew for certain that she was dead, so their bitter tears now mixed with mocking laughter.
54 Meanwhile, inside, Jesus took the girl’s hand.
Jesus: Child, get up!
55 She started breathing again, and she sat right up.
Jesus: Get her something to eat.
56 Her parents were amazed, but Jesus sternly told them to keep what had happened a secret.