That same day Jesus left the house and sat down by the Sea of Galilee.
The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat. He sat in the boat while the entire crowd stood on the shore.
Then he used stories as illustrations to tell them many things. 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 was little soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn't deep.
But when the sun came up, they were scorched. They withered because their roots weren't deep enough.
Other seeds were planted among thornbushes, and the thornbushes grew up and choked them.
But other seeds were planted on good ground and produced grain. They produced one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted.
Let the person who has ears listen!"
The disciples asked him, "Why do you use stories as illustrations when you speak to people?"
Jesus answered, "Knowledge about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you. But it has not been given to the crowd.
Those who understand [these mysteries] will be given [more knowledge], and they will excel [in understanding them]. However, some people don't understand [these mysteries]. Even what they understand will be taken away from them.
This is why I speak to them this way. They see, but they're blind. They hear, but they don't listen. They don't even try to understand.
So they make Isaiah's prophecy come true: 'You will hear clearly but never understand. You will see clearly but never comprehend.
These people have become close-minded and hard of hearing. They have shut their eyes so that their eyes never see. Their ears never hear. Their minds never understand. And they never return to me for healing!'
"Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear.
I can guarantee this truth: Many prophets and many of God's people longed to see what you see but didn't see it, to hear what you hear but didn't hear it.
"Listen to what the story about the farmer means.
Someone hears the word about the kingdom but doesn't understand it. The evil one comes at once and snatches away what was planted in him. This is what the seed planted along the road illustrates.
The seed planted on rocky ground [is the person who] hears the word and accepts it at once with joy.
Since he doesn't have any root, he lasts only a little while. When suffering or persecution comes along because of the word, he immediately falls [from faith].
The seed planted among thornbushes [is another person who] hears the word. But the worries of life and the deceitful pleasures of riches choke the word so that it can't produce anything.
But the seed planted on good ground [is the person who] hears and understands the word. This type produces crops. They produce one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted."
Jesus used another illustration. He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field.
But while people were asleep, his enemy planted weeds in the wheat field and went away.
When the wheat came up and formed kernels, weeds appeared.
"The owner's workers came to him and asked, 'Sir, didn't you plant good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'
"He told them, 'An enemy did this.' "His workers asked him, 'Do you want us to pull out the weeds?'
"He replied, 'No. If you pull out the weeds, you may pull out the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest. When the grain is cut, I will tell the workers to gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned. But I'll have them bring the wheat into my barn.'"
Jesus used another illustration. He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone planted in a field.
It's one of the smallest seeds. However, when it has grown, it is taller than the garden plants. It becomes a tree that is large enough for birds to nest in its branches."
He used another illustration. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into a large amount of flour until the yeast worked its way through all the dough."
Jesus used illustrations to tell the crowds all these things. He did not tell them anything without illustrating it with a story.
So what the prophet had said came true: "I will open my mouth to illustrate points. I will tell what has been hidden since the world was made."
When Jesus had sent the people away, he went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain what the illustration of the weeds in the field means."
He answered, "The one who plants the good seeds is the Son of Man.
The field is the world. The good seeds are those who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are those who belong to the evil one.
The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The workers are angels.
Just as weeds are gathered and burned, so it will be at the end of time.
The Son of Man will send his angels. They will gather everything in his kingdom that causes people to sin and everyone who does evil.
The angels will throw them into a blazing furnace. People will cry and be in extreme pain there.
Then the people who have God's approval will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Let the person who has ears listen!
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field. When a man discovered it, he buried it again. He was so delighted with it that he went away, sold everything he had, and bought that field.
"Also, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who was searching for fine pearls.
When he found a valuable pearl, he went away, sold everything he had, and bought it.
"Also, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea. It gathered all kinds of fish.
When it was full, they pulled it to the shore. Then they sat down, gathered the good fish into containers, and threw the bad ones away.
The same thing will happen at the end of time. The angels will go out and separate the evil people from people who have God's approval.
Then the angels will throw the evil people into a blazing furnace. They will cry and be in extreme pain there.
"Have you understood all of this?" "Yes," they answered.
So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure chest."
When Jesus had finished these illustrations, he left that place.
Jesus went to his hometown and taught the people in the synagogue in a way that amazed them. People were asking, "Where did this man get this wisdom and the power to do these miracles?
Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary? Aren't his brothers' names James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
And aren't all his sisters here with us? Where, then, did this man get all this?"
So they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "The only place a prophet isn't honored is in his hometown and in his own house."
He didn't work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
At that time Herod, ruler of Galilee, heard the news about Jesus.
He said to his officials, "This is John the Baptizer! He has come back to life. That's why he has the power to perform these miracles."
Herod had arrested John, tied him up, and put him in prison. Herod did this for Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.
John had been telling Herod, "It's not right for you to be married to her."
So Herod wanted to kill John. However, he was afraid of the people because they thought John was a prophet.
When Herod celebrated his birthday, Herodias' daughter danced for his guests. Herod was so delighted with her that
he swore he would give her anything she wanted.
Urged by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."
The king regretted his promise. But because of his oath and his guests, he ordered that her wish be granted.
He had John's head cut off in prison.
So the head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.
John's disciples came for the body and buried it. Then they went to tell Jesus.
When Jesus heard about John, he left in a boat and went to a place where he could be alone. The crowds heard about this and followed him on foot from the cities.
When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. He felt sorry for them and cured their sick people.
In the evening the disciples came to him. They said, "No one lives around here, and it's already late. Send the crowds to the villages to buy food for themselves."
Jesus said to them, "They don't need to go away. You give them something to eat."
They told him, "All we have here are five loaves of bread and two fish."
Jesus said, "Bring them to me."
Then he ordered the people to sit down on the grass. After he took the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed the food. He broke the loaves apart, gave them to the disciples, and they gave them to the people.
All of them ate as much as they wanted. When they picked up the leftover pieces, they filled twelve baskets.
About five thousand men had eaten. (This number does not include the women and children who had eaten.)
Jesus quickly made his disciples get into a boat and cross to the other side ahead of him while he sent the people away.
After sending the people away, he went up a mountain to pray by himself. When evening came, he was there alone.
The boat, now hundreds of yards from shore, was being thrown around by the waves because it was going against the wind.
Between three and six o'clock in the morning, he came to them. He was walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. They said, "It's a ghost!" and began to scream because they were afraid.
Immediately, Jesus said, "Calm down! It's me. Don't be afraid!"
Peter answered, "Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water."
Jesus said, "Come!" So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
But when he noticed how strong the wind was, he became afraid and started to sink. He shouted, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately, Jesus reached out, caught hold of him, and said, "You have so little faith! Why did you doubt?"
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped blowing.
The men in the boat bowed down in front of Jesus and said, "You are truly the Son of God."
They crossed the sea and landed at Gennesaret.
The men there recognized Jesus and sent messengers all around the countryside. The people brought him everyone who was sick.
They begged him to let them touch just the edge of his clothes. Everyone who touched his clothes was made well.