Mark 4 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
A Story About Planting Seed
4 Another time Jesus began teaching by the lake. A great crowd gathered around him. So he got into a boat and went out on the lake. All the people stayed on the shore close to the water. 2 Jesus used many stories to teach them. He said, 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed. 4 While the farmer was planting, some seed fell by the road. The birds came and ate all that seed. 5 Some seed fell on rocky ground where there wasn’t much dirt. The seed grew very fast there because the ground was not deep. 6 But when the sun rose, the plants withered. The plants died because they did not have deep roots. 7 Some other seed fell among thorny weeds. The weeds grew and choked the good plants. So those plants did not make grain. 8 Some other seed fell on good ground. In the good ground, the seed began to grow. It grew and made a crop of grain. Some plants made 30 times more grain, some 60 times more grain, and some 100 times more grain.”
9 Then Jesus said, “Let those with ears use them and listen!”
Jesus Tells Why He Used Stories
10 Later, when Jesus was alone, the 12 apostles and others around him asked him about the stories.
11 Jesus said, “Only you can know the secret truth about the kingdom of God. But to other people I tell everything by using stories. 12 I do this so that:
‘They will look and look, but they will not learn.
Jesus Explains the Seed Story
13 Then Jesus said to the followers, “Do you understand this story? If you don’t, then how will you understand any story? 14 The farmer is like a person who plants God’s teaching in people. 15 Sometimes the teaching falls on the road. This is like some people. They hear the teaching of God. But Satan quickly comes and takes away the teaching that was planted in them. 16 Others are like the seed planted on rocky ground. They hear the teaching and quickly accept it with joy. 17 But they don’t allow the teaching to go deep into their lives. They keep it only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching, they quickly give up. 18 Others are like the seed planted among the thorny weeds. They hear the teaching. 19 But then other things come into their lives: worries, the love of money, and wanting all kinds of other things. These things stop the teaching from growing. So that teaching does not produce fruit[a] in their lives. 20 Others are like the seed planted in the good ground. They hear the teaching and accept it. Then they grow and produce fruit—sometimes 30 times more, sometimes 60 times more, and sometimes 100 times more.”
Use What You Have
21 Then Jesus said to them, “Do you hide a lamp under a bowl or under a bed? No! You put the lamp on a lampstand. 22 Everything that is hidden will be made clear. Every secret thing will be made known. 23 Let those with ears use them and listen!
24 “Think carefully about the things you hear. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you. But God will give you more than you give. 25 The person who has something will be given more. But the person who does not have much, even what he has will be taken from him.”
Jesus Uses a Story About Seed
26 Then Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like a man who plants seed in the ground. 27 The seed comes up and grows night and day. It doesn’t matter whether the man is asleep or awake; the seed still grows. The man does not know how it grows. 28 Without any help, the earth produces grain. First the plant grows, then the head, and then all the grain in the head. 29 When the grain is ready, the man cuts it. This is the harvest time.”
A Story About Mustard Seed
30 Then Jesus said, “How can I show you what the kingdom of God is like? What story can I use to explain it? 31 The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. The mustard seed is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 But when you plant this seed, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. It produces large branches. Even the wild birds can make nests in it and be protected from the sun.”
33 Jesus used many stories like these to teach them. He taught them all that they could understand. 34 He always used stories to teach them. But when he and his followers were alone together, Jesus explained everything to them.
Jesus Stops a Storm
35 That evening, Jesus said to his followers, “Come with me across the lake.” 36 He and the followers left the people there. They went in the boat that Jesus was already sitting in. There were also other boats with them. 37 A very strong wind came up on the lake. The waves began coming over the sides and into the boat. It was almost full of water. 38 Jesus was at the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a pillow. The followers went to him and woke him. They said, “Teacher, do you care about us? We will drown!”
39 Jesus stood up and commanded the wind and the waves to stop. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and the lake became calm.
40 Jesus said to his followers, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 The followers were very afraid and asked each other, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
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