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A Story About a Farmer Sowing Seed

1Another time Jesus began teaching by the lake, and a large crowd gathered around him. He got into a boat so that he could sit and teach from the lake. All the people stayed on the shore near the water.

2Jesus used stories to teach them many things. One of his lessons included this story:

3“Listen! A farmer went out to sow seed.

4While he was scattering the seed, some of it fell by the road. The birds came and ate all that seed.

5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where there was not enough dirt. It grew quickly there because the soil was not deep.

6But then the sun rose and the plants were burned. They died because they did not have deep roots.

7Some other seed fell among thorny weeds. The weeds grew and stopped the good plants from growing. So they did not make grain.

8But some of the seed fell on good ground. There it began to grow, and it made grain. Some plants made 30 times more grain, some 60 times more, and some 100 times more.”

9Then Jesus said, “You people who hear me, listen!”

Why Jesus Used Stories to Teach

10Later, Jesus was away from the people. The twelve apostles and his other followers asked him about the stories.

11Jesus said, “Only you can know the secret truth about God’s kingdom. But to those other people I tell everything by using stories.

12I do this so that ‘They will look and look but never really see; they will listen and listen but never understand. If they saw and understood, they might change and be forgiven.’”

Jesus Explains the Story About Seed

13Then Jesus said to the followers, “Do you understand this story? If you don’t, how will you understand any story?

14The farmer is like someone who plants God’s teaching in people.

15Sometimes the teaching falls on the path. That is like some people who hear the teaching of God. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the teaching that was planted in them.

16“Other people are like the seed planted on rocky ground. They hear the teaching, and they quickly and gladly accept it.

17But they don’t allow it to go deep into their lives. They keep it only a short time. As soon as trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching they accepted, they give up.

18“Others are like the seed planted among the thorny weeds. They hear the teaching,

19but their lives become full of other things: the worries of this life, the love of money, and everything else they want. This keeps the teaching from growing, and it does not produce good results in their lives.

20“And others are like the seed planted on the good ground. They hear the teaching and accept it. Then they grow and produce a good crop—sometimes 30 times more, sometimes 60 times more, and sometimes 100 times more.”

Use the Understanding You Have

21Then Jesus said to them, “You don’t take a lamp and hide it under a bowl or a bed, do you? Of course not. You put it on a lampstand.

22Everything that is hidden will be made clear. Every secret thing will be made known.

23You people who hear me, listen!

24Think carefully about what you are hearing. The more attention you give, the more understanding you will get. And you will be given even more.

25The people who have some understanding will receive more. But those who do not have much will lose even the small amount they have.”

Jesus Uses a Story About Seed

26Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like a man who plants seed in the ground.

27The seed begins to grow. It grows night and day. It doesn’t matter whether the man is sleeping or awake, the seed still grows. He doesn’t know how it happens.

28Without any help the ground produces grain. First the plant grows, then the head, and then all the grain in the head.

29When the grain is ready, the man cuts it. This is the harvest time.”

What Is God’s Kingdom Like?

30Then Jesus said, “What can I use to show you what God’s kingdom is like? What story can I use to explain it?

31God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed, which is smaller than any other seed on earth that you can plant.

32But when you plant it, it grows and becomes the largest of all the plants in your garden. It has branches that are very big. The wild birds can come and make nests there and be protected from the sun.”

33Jesus used many stories like these to teach the people. He taught them all they could understand.

34He always used stories to teach them. But when he was alone with his followers, Jesus explained everything to them.

Jesus’ Followers See His Power

35That day, at evening, Jesus said to his followers, “Come with me across the lake.”

36So they left the crowd behind and went with Jesus in the boat he was already in. There were also other boats there with him.

37A very bad wind came up on the lake. The waves were coming over the sides and into the boat, and it was almost full of water.

38Jesus was inside the boat, sleeping with his head on a pillow. The followers went and woke him. They said, “Teacher, don’t you care about us? We are going to drown!”

39Jesus stood up and gave a command to the wind and the water. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and the lake became calm.

40He said to his followers, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41They were very afraid and asked each other, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the water obey him!”

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