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Matthew 11-13 Common English Bible (CEB)

Ministry to the people

11 When Jesus finished teaching his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Question from John the Baptist

Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Jesus responded, “Go, report to John what you hear and see. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled are walking. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. The poor have good news proclaimed to them.[a] Happy are those who don’t stumble and fall because of me.”

Appeal of John’s ministry

When John’s disciples had gone, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John: “What did you go out to the wilderness to see? A stalk blowing in the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed up in refined clothes? Look, those who wear refined clothes are in royal palaces. What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 He is the one of whom it is written: Look, I’m sending my messenger before you, who will prepare your way before you.[b]

Significance of John’s ministry

11 “I assure you that no one who has ever been born is greater than John the Baptist. Yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is violently attacked as violent people seize it. 13 All the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John came. 14 If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 Let the person who has ears, hear.

This generation

16 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like a child sitting in the marketplaces calling out to others, 17  ‘We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song and you didn’t mourn.’ 18  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19  Yet the Human One[c] came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved to be right by her works.”

Condemnation of Bethsaida and Capernaum

20 Then he began to scold the cities where he had done his greatest miracles because they didn’t change their hearts and lives. 21 “How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible it will be for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed their hearts and lives and put on funeral clothes and ashes a long time ago. 22  But I say to you that Tyre and Sidon will be better off on Judgment Day than you. 23  And you, Capernaum, will you be honored by being raised up to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to the place of the dead. After all, if the miracles that were done among you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. 24  But I say to you that it will be better for the land of Sodom on the Judgment Day than it will be for you.”

The Father and the Son

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. 26 Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness.

27 “My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29  Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. 30  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”

Working on the Sabbath

12 At that time Jesus went through the wheat fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry so they were picking heads of wheat and eating them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are breaking the Sabbath law.”

But he said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and those with him were hungry? He went into God’s house and broke the law by eating the bread of the presence, which only the priests were allowed to eat. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple treat the Sabbath as any other day and are still innocent? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what this means, I want mercy and not sacrifice,[d] you wouldn’t have condemned the innocent. The Human One[e] is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Healing on the Sabbath

Jesus left that place and went into their synagogue. 10 A man with a withered hand was there. Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they asked, “Does the Law allow a person to heal on the Sabbath?”

11 Jesus replied, “Who among you has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath and will not take hold of it and pull it out? 12  How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! So the Law allows a person to do what is good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did and it was made healthy, just like the other one. 14 The Pharisees went out and met in order to find a way to destroy Jesus.

Healing the crowd

15 Jesus knew what they intended to do, so he went away from there. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them all. 16 But he ordered them not to spread the word about him, 17 so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:

18 Look, my Servant whom I chose,
        the one I love, in whom I find great pleasure.
I’ll put my Spirit upon him,
        and he’ll announce judgment to the Gentiles.
19 He won’t argue or shout,
        and nobody will hear his voice in the streets.
20 He won’t break a bent stalk,
        and he won’t snuff out a smoldering wick,
            until he makes justice win.
21 And the Gentiles will put their hope in his name.[f]

22 They brought to Jesus a demon-possessed man who was blind and unable to speak. Jesus healed him so that he could both speak and see. 23 All the crowds were amazed and said, “This man couldn’t be the Son of David, could he?”

24 When the Pharisees heard, they said, “This man throws out demons only by the authority of Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”

25 Because Jesus knew what they were thinking, he replied, “Every kingdom involved in civil war becomes a wasteland. Every city or house torn apart by divisions will collapse. 26 If Satan throws out Satan, he is at war with himself. How then can his kingdom endure? 27 And if I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul, then by whose authority do your followers throw them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. 28 But if I throw out demons by the power of God’s Spirit, then God’s kingdom has already overtaken you. 29 Can people go into a house that belongs to a strong man and steal his possessions, unless they first tie up the strong man? Then they can rob his house. 30 Whoever isn’t with me is against me, and whoever doesn’t gather with me scatters.

Insulting the Holy Spirit

31 “Therefore, I tell you that people will be forgiven for every sin and insult to God. But insulting the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Human One[g] will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven, not in this age or in the age that is coming.

Trees and fruits

33 “Either consider the tree good and its fruit good, or consider the tree rotten and its fruit rotten. A tree is known by its fruit. 34  Children of snakes! How can you speak good things while you are evil? What fills the heart comes out of the mouth. 35  Good people bring out good things from their good treasure. But evil people bring out evil things from their evil treasure. 36  I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgment Day for every useless word they speak. 37  By your words you will be either judged innocent or condemned as guilty.”

Request for a sign

38 At that time some of the legal experts and the Pharisees requested of Jesus, “Teacher, we would like to see a sign from you.”

39 But he replied, “An evil and unfaithful generation searches for a sign, but it won’t receive any sign except Jonah’s sign. 40 Just as Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and three nights,[h] so the Human One[i] will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The citizens of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it as guilty, because they changed their hearts and lives in response to Jonah’s preaching. And look, someone greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will be raised up by God at the judgment with this generation and condemn it because she came from a distant land to hear Solomon’s wisdom. And look, someone greater than Solomon is here.

Unclean spirit seeking a home

43 “When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it wanders through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find any. 44  Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the place vacant, cleaned up, and decorated. 45  Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and make their home there. That person is worse off at the end than at the beginning. This is the way it will be also for this evil generation.”

Jesus’ family

46 While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers stood outside trying to speak with him. 47 Someone said to him, “Look, your mother and brothers are outside wanting to speak with you.”

48 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 He stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. 50  Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother.”

Setting for the parables

13 That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore.

Parable of the soils

He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

Why Jesus speaks in parables

10 Jesus’ disciples came and said to him, “Why do you use parables when you speak to the crowds?”

11 Jesus replied, “Because they haven’t received the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but you have. 12 For those who have will receive more and they will have more than enough. But as for those who don’t have, even the little they have will be taken away from them. 13 This is why I speak to the crowds in parables: although they see, they don’t really see; and although they hear, they don’t really hear or understand. 14 What Isaiah prophesied has become completely true for them:

You will hear, to be sure, but never understand;
        and you will certainly see but never recognize what you are seeing.
15     For this people’s senses have become calloused,
        and they’ve become hard of hearing,
        and they’ve shut their eyes
            so that they won’t see with their eyes
            or hear with their ears
            or understand with their minds,
                and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them.[j]

16 “Happy are your eyes because they see. Happy are your ears because they hear. 17 I assure you that many prophets and righteous people wanted to see what you see and hear what you hear, but they didn’t.

Explanation of the parable of the farmer

18 “Consider then the parable of the farmer. 19  Whenever people hear the word about the kingdom and don’t understand it, the evil one comes and carries off what was planted in their hearts. This is the seed that was sown on the path. 20  As for the seed that was spread on rocky ground, this refers to people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. 21  Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 22  As for the seed that was spread among thorny plants, this refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 23  As for what was planted on good soil, this refers to those who hear and understand, and bear fruit and produce—in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one.”

Parable of the weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered.

“The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’

29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30  Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvesttime I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.” ’”

Parable of the mustard seed

31 He told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. 32  It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”

Parable of the yeast

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough.”

Purpose of parables to the crowds

34 Jesus said all these things to the crowds in parables, and he spoke to them only in parables. 35 This was to fulfill what the prophet spoke:

I’ll speak in parables;
        I’ll declare what has been hidden since the beginning of the world.[k]

Explanation of the parable of the weeds

36 Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 Jesus replied, “The one who plants the good seed is the Human One.[l] 38  The field is the world. And the good seeds are the followers of the kingdom. But the weeds are the followers of the evil one. 39  The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the present age. The harvesters are the angels. 40  Just as people gather weeds and burn them in the fire, so it will be at the end of the present age. 41  The Human One[m] will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that cause people to fall away and all people who sin. 42  He will throw them into a burning furnace. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth. 43  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Those who have ears should hear.”

Parable of the treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field.

Parable of the merchant

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46 When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it.

Parable of the net

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that people threw into the lake and gathered all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, they pulled it to the shore, where they sat down and put the good fish together into containers. But the bad fish they threw away. 49 That’s the way it will be at the end of the present age. The angels will go out and separate the evil people from the righteous people, 50 and will throw the evil ones into a burning furnace. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.

Treasures new and old

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

They said to him, “Yes.”

52 Then he said to them, “Therefore, every legal expert who has been trained as a disciple for the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings old and new things out of their treasure chest.”

Jesus in his hometown

53 When Jesus finished these parables, he departed. 54 When he came to his hometown, he taught the people in their synagogue. They were surprised and said, “Where did he get this wisdom? Where did he get the power to work miracles? 55 Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? 56 And his sisters, aren’t they here with us? Where did this man get all this?” 57 They were repulsed by him and fell into sin.

But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns and in their own households.” 58 He was unable to do many miracles there because of their disbelief.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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