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Mark 4

The Story of the Farmer
1Jesus began to teach again by the Sea of Galilee. A very large crowd gathered around him, so he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake while all the people stayed along the shore at the water’s edge. 2He taught them many things by telling them stories. In his teaching he said, 3“Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed. 4As he scattered the seed, some fell on a path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn’t much soil. The plants came up quickly because the soil wasn’t deep. 6But when the sun came up, it burned the plants and they dried up, because they had no roots. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and crowded out the plants, so they didn’t bear any grain. 8But still other seed fell on good soil. There it grew up and produced a crop that was 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.”
9Then Jesus said, “Whoever understands should take this to heart.”
10Later, when Jesus was alone, the 12 disciples and others around him asked about the stories. 11He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but for outsiders, everything is told in stories. 12That way,
“ ‘They’ll see but never know what they’re seeing,
They’ll hear but never understand.
Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!’ ”
13Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this story? Then how will you understand any of the stories? 14The seed that the farmer plants is God’s message. 15Some of the seed that was scattered fell on a path. It stands for what happens when people hear the message but then Satan comes immediately and takes away what was planted in them. 16The seed that was scattered on rocky places represents other people who hear the message and right away receive it with joy. 17But because they have no roots, they last only a short time. When trouble or suffering comes because of the message, they quickly fall away from the faith. 18Still others, like the seed that was scattered among thorns, hear the message, 19but then the worries of this life, the false promises of wealth, and the desire for other things crowd out the message and keep it from producing fruit. 20And some people, like the seed that was scattered on good soil, hear the message, accept it, and produce a good crop that’s 30, 60, or even 100 times more than what was planted.”
A Lamp Belongs on a Stand
21Jesus said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp and then put it under a large bowl or a bed? Don’t you put it on its stand? 22There’s nothing hidden that won’t be seen, and there’s nothing that has been put out of sight that won’t be brought out into the open. 23Whoever understands should take this to heart.
24“Think carefully about what you hear,” he said. “The more you do so, the more you will receive—even more than you put into it. 25Whoever has something will be given more, but if anyone lacks something, even what they have will be taken away from them.”
The Story of the Growing Seed
26Jesus also said, “Here’s what the kingdom of God is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground. 27Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows. The farmer doesn’t know how that happens. 28All by itself the soil produces grain. First the stalk comes up, then the head forms, and finally the full grain appears in the head. 29As soon as the grain ripens, the farmer brings it in, because the harvest is ready.”
The Story of the Mustard Seed
30Then Jesus asked, “What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What story can we use to explain it? 31It’s like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32But when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants. Its branches are so big that birds can rest in its shade.”
33Jesus spoke the message to them using many stories like these, telling them as much as they could understand. 34He didn’t teach them anything without using a story. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.
Jesus Calms the Storm
35When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along in the boat just as he was. Other boats came along as well. 37The wind got very strong and waves started crashing over the boat, so that it was about to sink. 38Jesus was in the back, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up and said, “Teacher! Don’t you care if we drown?”
39He got up and ordered the wind to stop, and he said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind died down and everything became completely calm.
40Jesus asked his disciples, “Why were you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith yet?”
41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

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