Exit Parallel Mode
 

Matthew 13

13
The Story of the Farmer Scattering Seed
1That same day Jesus left the house and sat by the Sea of Galilee. 2The crowds that gathered around him were so large that he got into a boat and sat down to teach, while all the people stood on the shore to listen. 3Then he taught them many things by telling them stories. He said, “A farmer went out to plant his seed. 4As he scattered it, some fell on a path and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some seed fell in rocky places where there wasn’t much soil. Those plants came up quickly because the soil wasn’t very deep. 6But when the sun got hot, it burned the plants and they dried up, because they had no roots. 7Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and crowded out the plants. 8But still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop that was 100, 60, or 30 times more than what was planted. 9Whoever understands should take this to heart.”
10The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do you tell stories when you speak to the people?”
11He answered, “Because they aren’t being given the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven the way you are. 12Whoever has this kind of knowledge will be given more, until they have a great deal of it. But if anyone lacks this kind of knowledge, even what little they have will be taken away from them. 13I tell stories when I speak to the people so that:
“They’ll look, but they won’t see.
They’ll listen, but they won’t hear or understand.
14These people are making the words of the prophet Isaiah come true.
“ ‘You’ll hear but never understand,
you’ll see but never know what you’re seeing.
15The hearts of these people have become stubborn.
They can barely hear with their ears
and they’ve closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts.
Then they might turn to the Lord, and he would heal them.’
16But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and blessed are your ears, because they hear. 17Truly I tell you, many prophets and godly people wanted to see what you’re seeing, but they didn’t see it, and they wanted to hear what you’re hearing, but they didn’t hear it.
18“Listen! Here’s what the story about the farmer means. 19When people hear the message about the kingdom, but they don’t understand it, the evil one comes and steals what was planted in their hearts. Those people are like the seed that landed on the path. 20The seed that fell on rocky places stands for other people who hear the message and receive it right away with joy. 21But 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. 22The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear the message but then have it crowded out by the worries of this life and the false promises of wealth, which keep it from producing fruit. 23But the seed that fell on good soil stands for those who hear the message and understand what it means. They produce a crop that’s 100, 60, or 30 times more than what was planted.”
The Story of the Weeds
24Jesus told the crowd another story. He said, “Here’s what the kingdom of heaven is like. A man planted good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came, planted weeds among the wheat, and then slipped away. 26The wheat began to grow and form grain, but at the same time, weeds appeared.
27“The owner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then where did these weeds come from?’
28“ ‘An enemy must have done it,’ he replied.
“The slaves asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?’
29“ ‘No,’ the owner answered, ‘because while you’re pulling up the weeds, you might pull up the wheat too. Let them both grow together until the harvest. 30Then I’ll tell the workers, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned. Then gather the wheat and put it in my barn.” ’ ”
The Stories of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast
31Jesus told the crowd another story. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in a field. 32It’s the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows, it becomes the largest of all garden plants. It turns into a tree, and birds come and rest in its branches.”
33Jesus told them one more story. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast,” he said. “A woman mixed it into 60 pounds of flour, and the yeast worked its way through all of that dough.”
34Jesus taught the crowd all these things by telling stories. He didn’t say anything to them without using a story. 35So the words spoken by the prophet came true:
“I will open my mouth and tell stories.
I’ll speak about things that have been hidden since the world was created.”
Jesus Explains the Story of the Weeds
36Then Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and asked, “Please explain the story of the weeds in the field to us.”
37He replied, “The one who planted the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one, 39and the enemy who plants them is the devil. The harvest is the judgment day and the workers are angels.
40“The weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire. That’s how it will be on judgment day. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and everyone who does wrong. 42They’ll throw them into the blazing furnace, where people will weep and grind their teeth. 43Then God’s people will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Whoever understands should take this to heart.
The Stories of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure that was hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then he went and gladly sold everything he had to buy that field.
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who was looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one that was very valuable, he went away and sold everything he had so he could buy that pearl.
The Story of the Net
47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake. It caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up onto the shore. Then they sat down and gathered the good fish into baskets, but they threw the bad fish away. 49That’s how it will be on judgment day. The angels will come and separate the people who did wrong from those who did right. 50They will throw the bad people into the blazing furnace, where they will weep and grind their teeth.
51“Do you understand all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52He said to them, “Every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings new treasures out of his storeroom along with the old ones.”
A Prophet Without Honor
53When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he moved on from there. 54He came to his hometown of Nazareth and began teaching the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and they asked, “Where did this man get so much wisdom? Where did he get the power to do miracles? 55Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? 56Aren’t all his sisters with us too? Then where did this man get all these things?” 57And they couldn’t believe in Jesus because they were stuck on these questions.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own town and in his own home.”
58He didn’t do many miracles in Nazareth because the people there had so little faith.
13
A Harvest Story
1-3At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories.
3-8“What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
9“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
Why Tell Stories?
10The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”
11-15He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:
Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
so they won’t have to look,
so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
and let me heal them.
16-17“But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.
The Meaning of the Harvest Story
18-19“Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.
20-21“The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.
22“The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.
23“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”
24-26He told another story. “God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.
27“The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’
28“He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’
“The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’
29-30“He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.’”
31-32Another story. “God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.”
33Another story. “God’s kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread—and waits while the dough rises.”
34-35All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy:
I will open my mouth and tell stories;
I will bring out into the open
things hidden since the world’s first day.
The Curtain of History
36Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His disciples came in and said, “Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field.”
37-39So he explained. “The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.
40-43“The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?
44“God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
45-46“Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.
47-50“Or, God’s kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish. When it is full, it is hauled onto the beach. The good fish are picked out and put in a tub; those unfit to eat are thrown away. That’s how it will be when the curtain comes down on history. The angels will come and cull the bad fish and throw them in the garbage. There will be a lot of desperate complaining, but it won’t do any good.”
51Jesus asked, “Are you starting to get a handle on all this?”
They answered, “Yes.”
52He said, “Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”
53-57When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “We’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s the carpenter’s son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?” They got their noses all out of joint.
58But Jesus said, “A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.” He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.