Jesus 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. The boat was in the water while the entire crowd lined the shore.
He used stories as illustrations to teach them many things. While he was teaching them, he said,
"Listen! A farmer went to plant seed.
Some seeds were planted along the road, and birds came and devoured them.
Other seeds were planted on rocky ground, where there wasn't much soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn't deep.
When the sun came up, they were scorched. They didn't have any roots, so they withered.
Other seeds were planted among thornbushes. The thornbushes grew up and choked them, and they didn't produce anything.
But other seeds were planted on good ground, sprouted, and produced thirty, sixty, or one hundred times as much as was planted."
He added, "Let the person who has ears listen!"
When he was alone with his followers and the twelve apostles, they asked him about the stories.
Jesus replied to them, "The mystery about the kingdom of God has been given [directly] to you. To those on the outside, it is given in stories:
'They see clearly but don't perceive. They hear clearly but don't understand. They never return to me and are never forgiven.'"
Jesus asked them, "Don't you understand this story? How, then, will you understand any of the stories I use as illustrations?
"The farmer plants the word.
Some people are like seeds that were planted along the road. Whenever they hear the word, Satan comes at once and takes away the word that was planted in them.
Other people are like seeds that were planted on rocky ground. Whenever they hear the word, they accept it at once with joy.
But they don't develop any roots. They last for a short time. When suffering or persecution comes along because of the word, they immediately fall [from faith].
Other people are like seeds planted among thornbushes. They hear the word,
but the worries of life, the deceitful pleasures of riches, and the desires for other things take over. They choke the word so that it can't produce anything.
Others are like seeds planted on good ground. They hear the word, accept it, and produce crops--thirty, sixty, or one hundred times as much as was planted."
Jesus said to them, "Does anyone bring a lamp into a room to put it under a basket or under a bed? Isn't it put on a lamp stand?
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. There is nothing kept secret that will not come to light.
Let the person who has ears listen!"
He went on to say, "Pay attention to what you're listening to! [Knowledge] will be measured out to you by the measure [of attention] you give. This is the way knowledge increases.
Those who understand [these mysteries] will be given [more knowledge]. However, some people don't understand [these mysteries]. Even what they understand will be taken away from them."
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seeds on the ground.
He sleeps at night and is awake during the day. The seeds sprout and grow, although the man doesn't know how.
The ground produces grain by itself. First the green blade appears, then the head, then the head full of grain.
As soon as the grain is ready, he cuts it with a sickle, because harvest time has come."
Jesus asked, "How can we show what the kingdom of God is like? To what can we compare it?
It's like a mustard seed planted in the ground. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds on earth.
However, when planted, it comes up and becomes taller than all the garden plants. It grows such large branches that birds can nest in its shade."
Jesus spoke [God's] word to them using many illustrations like these. In this way people could understand what he taught.
He did not speak to them without using an illustration. But when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.
That evening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's cross to the other side."
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus along in a boat just as he was. Other boats were with him.
A violent windstorm came up. The waves were breaking into the boat so that it was quickly filling up.
But he was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat. So they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care that we're going to die?"
Then he got up, ordered the wind to stop, and said to the sea, "Be still, absolutely still!" The wind stopped blowing, and the sea became very calm.
He asked them, "Why are you such cowards? Don't you have any faith yet?"
They were overcome with fear and asked each other, "Who is this man? Even the wind and the sea obey him!"