The Parables of Jesus
1Later that day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeshore to teach the people. 2Soon, there were so many people surrounding him that he had to teach sitting in a boat while the large crowd stood on the shore. 3He taught them many things by using stories, parables that would illustrate spiritual truths, saying:
“Consider this: There was a farmer who went out to sow seeds. 4As he cast his seeds, some fell along the beaten path and the birds came and ate them. 5Other seeds fell onto gravel that had no topsoil. The seeds quickly shot up, 6but when the days grew hot, the sprouts were scorched and withered because they had insufficient roots. 7Other seeds fell among the thorns and weeds, so when the seeds sprouted, so did the weeds, crowding out the good plants. 8But other seeds fell on good, rich soil that kept producing a good harvest. Some yielded thirty, some sixty, and some even one hundred times as much as he planted! 9If you’re able to understand this, then you need to respond.”
10Then his disciples approached Jesus and asked, “Why do you always speak to people in these hard-to-understand parables?”
11He explained, “You’ve been given the intimate experience of insight into the hidden truths and mysteries of the realm of heaven’s kingdom, but they have not. 12For everyone who listens with an open heart will receive progressively more revelation until he has more than enough. But those who don’t listen with an open, teachable heart, even the understanding that they think they have will be taken from them. 13That’s why I teach the people using parables, because they think they’re looking for truth, yet because their hearts are unteachable, they never discover it. Although they will listen to me, they never fully perceive the message I speak. 14The prophecy of Isaiah describes them perfectly:
Although they listen carefully to everything I speak,
they don’t understand a thing I say.
They look and pretend to see,
but the eyes of their hearts are closed.
15Their minds are dull and slow to perceive,
their ears are plugged and are hard of hearing,
and they have deliberately shut their eyes to the truth.
Otherwise they would open their eyes to see,
and open their ears to hear,
and open their minds to understand.
Then they would turn to me
and let me instantly heal them.
16“But your eyes are privileged, for they see. Delighted are your ears, for they are open to hear all these things. 17Many prophets and godly people in times past yearned to see these days of miracles that you’ve been favored to see. They would have given everything to hear the revelation you’ve been favored to hear. Yet they didn’t get to see as much as a glimpse or hear even a whisper.
18“Now you are ready to listen to the revelation of the parable of the sower and his seeds:
19“The seed that fell on the beaten path represents the heart of the one who hears the message of the kingdom realm but doesn’t understand it. The Adversary then comes and snatches away what was sown into his heart.
20“The seed sown on gravel represents the person who gladly hears the kingdom message, but his experience remains shallow. 21Shortly after he hears it, troubles and persecutions come because of the kingdom message he received. Then he quickly falls away, for the truth didn’t sink deeply into his heart.
22“The seed sown among weeds represents the person who receives the message, but all of life’s busy distractions, his divided heart, and his ambition for wealth result in suffocating the kingdom message and prevent him from bearing spiritual fruit.
23“As for the seed that fell upon good, rich soil, it represents the hearts of people who hear and fully embrace the message of heaven’s kingdom realm. Their lives bear good fruit—some yield a harvest of thirty, sixty, even one hundred times as much as was sown.”
The Parable of the Weeds
24Then Jesus taught them another parable:
“Heaven’s kingdom realm can be compared to a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25But at night, when everyone was asleep, an enemy came and planted poisonous weeds among the wheat and ran away. 26When the wheat sprouted and bore grain, the weeds also appeared. 27So the farmer’s hired hands came to him and said, ‘Sir, wasn’t that good seed that you sowed in the field? Where did all these weeds come from?’
28“He answered, ‘This has to be the work of an enemy!’
“They replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather up all the weeds?’
29“ ‘No,’ he said. ‘If you pull out the weeds you might uproot the wheat at the same time. 30You must allow them both to grow together until the time of harvest. At that time, I’ll tell my harvesters to make sure they gather the weeds first and tie them all in bundles to be burned. Then they will harvest the wheat and put it into my barn.’ ”
The Parable of the Tiny Mustard Seed
31Then Jesus taught them another parable:
“Heaven’s kingdom realm can be compared to the tiny mustard seed that a man takes and plants in his field. 32Although the smallest of all the seeds, it eventually grows into the greatest of garden plants, becoming a tree for birds to come and build their nests in its branches.”
The Parable of the Yeast
33Then he taught them another parable:
“Heaven’s kingdom realm can be compared to yeast that a woman takes and blends into three measures of flour and then waits until all the dough rises.”
Prophecy and Parables
34Whenever Jesus addressed the crowds, he always spoke in allegories. He never spoke without using parables. 35He did this in order to fulfill the prophecy:
I will speak to you in allegories.
I will reveal secrets that have been concealed
since before the foundation of the world.
Jesus Explains the Parables
36Jesus left the crowds and went inside the house where he was staying. Then his disciples approached him and asked, “Please explain the deeper meaning of the parable of the weeds growing in the field of wheat.”
37He answered, “The man who sowed his field with good seed represents me, the Son of Man. 38And the field is the world. The good seeds I sow are the children of the kingdom realm. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest points to the end of this age, and the harvesters are God’s messengers. 40As the weeds are bundled up and thrown into the fire, so it will be at the close of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his messengers, and they will uproot everything out of his kingdom. All the lawless ones and everything that causes sin will be removed. 42And they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will experience great sorrow, pain, and anguish. 43Then the godly ones will shine like the brightness of the sun in their Father’s kingdom realm. If you’re able to understand this, then you’d better respond!”
Parables of Hidden Treasure and an Extraordinary Pearl
44“Heaven’s kingdom realm can be illustrated like this:
“A person discovered that there was hidden treasure in a field. Upon finding it, he hid it again. Because of uncovering such treasure, he was overjoyed and sold all that he possessed to buy the entire field just so he could have the treasure.
45“Heaven’s kingdom realm is also like a jewel merchant in search of rare pearls. 46When he discovered one very precious and exquisite pearl, he immediately gave up all he had in exchange for it.”
The Parable of the Fishing Net
47“Again, heaven’s kingdom realm is like a fisherman who casts his large net into the lake, catching an assortment of different kinds of fish. 48When the net was filled, the fishermen hauled it up on the shore, and they all sat down to sort out their catch. They collected the good fish in baskets and threw the bad away. 49And so it will be at the close of the age. The messengers will come and separate the evil from among the godly 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will experience great sorrow, pain, and anguish. 51Now do you understand all this?”
“Yes,” they replied.
52He responded, “Every scholar of the Scriptures, who is instructed in the ways of heaven’s kingdom realm, is like a wealthy home owner with his house filled with treasures both new and old. And he knows how and when to bring them out to show others.”
53Right after Jesus taught this series of parables, he left from there.
Jesus Rejected in His Hometown
54When Jesus arrived in his hometown of Nazareth, he began teaching the people in the synagogue. Everyone was dazed, overwhelmed with astonishment over the depth of revelation they were hearing. They said to one another, “Where did this man get such great wisdom and miraculous powers? 55Isn’t he just the wood-worker’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary, and his four brothers Jacob, Joseph, Simon, and Judah? 56And don’t his sisters all live here in Nazareth? How did he get all this revelation and power?” 57And the people became offended and began to turn against him.
Jesus said, “There’s only one place a prophet isn’t honored—his own hometown!” 58And their great unbelief kept him from doing any mighty miracles in Nazareth.