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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 4

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1 ON another occasion he began to teach by the lakeside. The crowd that gathered round him was so large that he had to get into a boat on the lake and sit there, with the whole crowd on the beach right down to the water's edge. 2And he taught them many things by parables.

As he taught he said:

3‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And it happened that as he sowed, some of the seed fell along the footpath; and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil, and it sprouted quickly because it had no depth of earth; 6but when the sun rose it was scorched, and as it had no root it withered away. 7Some fell among thistles; and the thistles grew up and choked the corn, and it produced no crop. 8And some of the seed fell into good soil, where it came up and grew, and produced a crop; and the yield was thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even a hundredfold.’ 9He added, ‘If you have ears to hear, then hear.’

10When Jesus was alone with the Twelve and his other companions they questioned him about the parables. 11He answered, ‘To you the secret of the kingdom of God has been given; but to those who are outside, everything comes by way of parables, 12so that (as scripture says) they may look and look, but see nothing; they may listen and listen, but understand nothing; otherwise they might turn to God and be forgiven.’

13He went on: ‘Do you not understand this parable? How then are you to understand any parable? 14The sower sows the word. 15With some the seed falls along the footpath; no sooner have they heard it than Satan comes and carries off the word which has been sown in them. 16With others the seed falls on rocky ground; as soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy, 17but it strikes no root in them; they have no staying-power, and when there is trouble or persecution on account of the word, they quickly lose faith. 18With others again the seed falls among thistles; they hear the word, 19but wordly cares and the false glamour of wealth and evil desires of all kinds come in and choke the word, and it proves barren. 20But there are some with whom the seed is sown on good soil; they accept the word when they hear it, and they bear fruit thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold.’

21He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the measuring bowl or under the bed? No, it is put on the lampstand. 22Nothing is hidden except to be disclosed, and nothing concealed except to be brought into the open. 23If you have ears to hear, then hear.’

24He also said to them, ‘Take note of what you hear; the measure you give is the measure you will receive, with something more besides. 25For those who have will be given more, and those who have not will forfeit even what they have.’

26He said, ‘The kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters seed on the ground; 27he goes to bed at night and gets up in the morning, and meanwhile the seed sprouts and grows—how, he does not know. 28The ground produces a crop by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then full grain in the ear; 29but as soon as the crop is ripe, he starts reaping, because harvest time has come.’

30He said, ‘How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31It is like a mustard seed; when sown in the ground it is smaller than any other seed, 32but once sown, it springs up and grows taller than any other plant, and forms branches so large that birds can roost in its shade.’

33With many such parables he used to give them his message, so far as they were able to receive it. 34He never spoke to them except in parables; but privately to his disciples he explained everything.

35 THAT day, in the evening, he said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.’ 36So they left the crowd and took him with them in the boat in which he had been sitting; and some other boats went with him. 37A fierce squall blew up and the waves broke over the boat until it was all but swamped. 38Now he was in the stern asleep on a cushion; they roused him and said, ‘Teacher, we are sinking! Do you not care?’ 39He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Silence! Be still!’ The wind dropped and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you such cowards? Have you no faith even now?’ 41They were awestruck and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’

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