4 Again Jesus began to teach beside the sea [of Galilee]. And a very large crowd gathered around Him, so He got into a boat [anchoring it a short distance out] on the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the shore.2 And He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them, 3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow seed;4 and as he was sowing, some seed fell by the road, and the birds came and ate it up.5 Other seed fell on rocks where there was not much soil; and immediately a plant sprang up [a]because the soil had no depth.6 And when the sun came up, the plant was scorched; and because it had no root, it dried up and withered away.7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.8 And other seed fell into good soil, and as the plants grew and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundred times [as much as had been sown].” 9 And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words.”
10 As soon as He was alone, those who were around Him, together with the twelve [disciples], began asking Him about [the interpretation of] the parables. 11 He said to them, “The mystery of the kingdom of Godhas been given to you [who have teachable hearts], but those who are outside [the unbelievers, the spiritually blind] get everything in parables,12 so that they will continually look but not see, and they will continually hear but not understand, otherwise they might turn [from their rejection of the truth] and be forgiven.”
13 Then He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand and grasp the meaning of all the parables?14 The sower sows the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation]. 15 These [in the first group] are the ones along the road where the word is sown; but when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.16 In a similar way these [in the second group] are the ones on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy [but accept it only superficially]; 17 and they have no real root in themselves, so they endure only for a little while; then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they [are offended and displeased at being associated with Me and] stumble and fall away.18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,19 but the worries and cares of the world [the distractions of this age with its worldly pleasures], and the deceitfulness [and the false security or glamour] of wealth [or fame], and the passionate desires for all the other things creep in and choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful.20 And those [in the last group] are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word [of God, the good news regarding the way of salvation] and accept it and bear fruit—thirty, sixty, and a hundred times as much [as was sown].”
Mark 4:5In many parts of Israel a layer of limestone lies an inch or so beneath the surface of the ground. This layer traps the moisture, and for a brief period of time a plant growing there may appear to flourish. But as soon as a dry spell comes, the moisture quickly dissipates. Due to the layer of limestone, the plant cannot sink roots and soon withers and dies (v 6).
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