Contemporary English Version
A Story about a Farmer
4 The next time Jesus taught beside Lake Galilee, a big crowd gathered. It was so large that he had to sit in a boat out on the lake, while the people stood on the shore. 2 He used stories to teach them many things, and this is part of what he taught:
3 Now listen! A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4 While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5 Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. 7 Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked out the plants. So they did not produce any grain. 8 But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants grew and produced thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was scattered.
9 Then Jesus said, “If you have ears, pay attention.”
Why Jesus Used Stories
10 When Jesus was alone with the twelve apostles and some others, they asked him about these stories. 11 He answered:
I have explained the secret about God’s kingdom to you, but for others I can use only stories. 12 The reason is,
“These people will look
and look, but never see.
They will listen and listen,
but never understand.
If they did,
they would turn to God,
and he would forgive them.”
Jesus Explains the Story about the Farmer
13 Jesus told them:
If you don’t understand this story, you won’t understand any others. 14 What the farmer is spreading is really the message about the kingdom. 15 The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But Satan soon comes and snatches it away from them. 16 The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. 17 But they don’t have any roots, and they don’t last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
18 The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. 19 But they start worrying about the needs of this life. They are fooled by the desire to get rich and to have all kinds of other things. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 20 The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and welcome the message. They produce thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was planted.
21 Jesus also said:
You don’t light a lamp and put it under a clay pot or under a bed. Don’t you put a lamp on a lampstand? 22 There is nothing hidden that will not be made public. There is no secret that will not be well known. 23 If you have ears, pay attention!
24 Listen carefully to what you hear! The way you treat others will be the way you will be treated—and even worse. 25 Everyone who has something will be given more. But people who don’t have anything will lose what little they have.
Another Story about Seeds
26 Again Jesus said:
God’s kingdom is like what happens when a farmer scatters seed in a field. 27 The farmer sleeps at night and is up and around during the day. Yet the seeds keep sprouting and growing, and he doesn’t understand how. 28 It is the ground that makes the seeds sprout and grow into plants that produce grain. 29 Then when harvest season comes and the grain is ripe, the farmer cuts it with a sickle.[a]
A Mustard Seed
30 Finally, Jesus said:
What is God’s kingdom like? What story can I use to explain it? 31 It is like what happens when a mustard seed is planted in the ground. It is the smallest seed in all the world. 32 But once it is planted, it grows larger than any garden plant. It even puts out branches that are big enough for birds to nest in its shade.
The Reason for Teaching with Stories
33 Jesus used many other stories when he spoke to the people, and he taught them as much as they could understand. 34 He did not tell them anything without using stories. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.
35 That evening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the east side.” 36 So they left the crowd, and his disciples started across the lake with him in the boat. Some other boats followed along. 37 Suddenly a windstorm struck the lake. Waves started splashing into the boat, and it was about to sink.
38 Jesus was in the back of the boat with his head on a pillow, and he was asleep. His disciples woke him and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to drown?”
39 Jesus got up and ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet. The wind stopped, and everything was calm.
40 Jesus asked his disciples, “Why were you afraid? Don’t you have any faith?”
41 Now they were more afraid than ever and said to each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
- 4.29 sickle: A knife with a long curved blade, used to cut grain and other crops.