Matthew 13; Luke 8

1 At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. 2 In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. 3 Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories. 4 As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. 5 Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, 6 so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. 7 Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. 8 Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams. 9 "Are you listening to this? Really listening?" 10 The disciples came up and asked, "Why do you tell stories?" 11 He 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 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 "But you have God-blessed eyes - eyes that see! And God-blessed ears - ears that hear! 17 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. 18 "Study this story of the farmer planting seed. 19 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 "The seed cast in the gravel - this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. 21 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 He told another story. "God's kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. 26 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 "He said, 'No, if you weed the thistles, you'll pull up the wheat, too. 30 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 Another story. "God's kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. 32 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." 33 Another 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 All Jesus did that day was tell stories - a long storytelling afternoon. 35 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. 36 Jesus 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 So he explained. "The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, 39 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 "The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, 42 pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. 43 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 accidently 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 "Or, God's kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. 46 Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it. 47 "Or, God's kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish. 48 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. 49 That's how it will be when the curtain comes down on history. The angels will come and cull the bad fish 50 and throw them in the garbage. There will be a lot of desperate complaining, but it won't do any good." 51 Jesus asked, "Are you starting to get a handle on all this?" They answered, "Yes." 52 He 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 When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, 54 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?" 55 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. 56 All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?" 57 They got their noses all out of joint. 58 But 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.
1 He continued according to plan, traveled to town after town, village after village, preaching God's kingdom, spreading the Message. The Twelve were with him. 2 There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; 3 Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's manager; and Susanna - along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company. 4 As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and traveled along. He addressed them, using this story: 5 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. 6 Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn't have good roots. 7 Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. 8 Other seed fell in rich earth and produced a bumper crop. "Are you listening to this? Really listening?" 9 His disciples asked, "Why did you tell this story?" 10 He said, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom - you know how it works. There are others who need stories. But even with stories some of them aren't going to get it: Their eyes are open but don't see a thing, Their ears are open but don't hear a thing. 11 "This story is about some of those people. The seed is the Word of God. 12 The seeds on the road are those who hear the Word, but no sooner do they hear it than the Devil snatches it from them so they won't believe and be saved. 13 "The seeds in the gravel are those who hear with enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm doesn't go very deep. It's only another fad, and the moment there's trouble it's gone. 14 "And the seed that fell in the weeds - well, these are the ones who hear, but then the seed is crowded out and nothing comes of it as they go about their lives worrying about tomorrow, making money, and having fun. 15 "But the seed in the good earth - these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there's a harvest. 16 "No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. 17 We're not keeping secrets; we're telling them. We're not hiding things; we're bringing everything out into the open. 18 So be careful that you don't become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes." 19 His mother and brothers showed up but couldn't get through to him because of the crowd. 20 He was given the message, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to see you." 21 He replied, "My mother and brothers are the ones who hear and do God's Word. Obedience is thicker than blood." 22 One day he and his disciples got in a boat. "Let's cross the lake," he said. And off they went. 23 It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. 24 They woke Jesus: "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" Getting to his feet, he told the wind, "Silence!" and the waves, "Quiet down!" They did it. The lake became smooth as glass. 25 Then he said to his disciples, "Why can't you trust me?" They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, "Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!" 26 They sailed on to the country of the Gerasenes, directly opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out onto land, a madman from town met him; he was a victim of demons. He hadn't worn clothes for a long time, nor lived at home; he lived in the cemetery. 28 When he saw Jesus he screamed, fell before him, and bellowed, "What business do you have messing with me? You're Jesus, Son of the High God, but don't give me a hard time!" 29 (The man said this because Jesus had started to order the unclean spirit out of him.) Time after time the demon threw the man into convulsions. He had been placed under constant guard and tied with chains and shackles, but crazed and driven wild by the demon, he would shatter the bonds. 30 Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" 31 And they begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit. 32 A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. 33 It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned. 34 Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. 35 People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus' feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. 36 Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved. 37 Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave - too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off. 38 The man whom he had delivered from the demons asked to go with him, but he sent him back, saying, 39 "Go home and tell everything God did in you." So he went back and preached all over town everything Jesus had done in him. 40 On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him. 41 A man came up, Jairus by name. He was president of the meeting place. He fell at Jesus' feet and begged him to come to his home 42 because his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, was dying. Jesus went with him, making his way through the pushing, jostling crowd. 43 In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. 44 She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus' robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. 45 Jesus said, "Who touched me?" When no one stepped forward, Peter said, "But Master, we've got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you." 46 Jesus insisted, "Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me." 47 When the woman realized that she couldn't remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story - why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed. 48 Jesus said, "Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!" 49 While he was still talking, someone from the leader's house came up and told him, "Your daughter died. No need now to bother the Teacher." 50 Jesus overheard and said, "Don't be upset. Just trust me and everything will be all right." 51 Going into the house, he wouldn't let anyone enter with him except Peter, John, James, and the child's parents. 52 Everyone was crying and carrying on over her. Jesus said, "Don't cry. She didn't die; she's sleeping." 53 They laughed at him. They knew she was dead. 54 Then Jesus, gripping her hand, called, "My dear child, get up." 55 She was up in an instant, up and breathing again! He told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were ecstatic, but Jesus warned them to keep quiet. "Don't tell a soul what happened in this room."