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.