48 Jesus uses a farming illustration to teach about hearing God’s word.

Isaiah 6:9–10; Matthew 13:1–23; Mark 4:1–20; Luke 8:4–15

How many times did Jesus teach from a boat just off the seashore (Mark 4:1)?

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Why do stories help us learn important lessons (Mark 4:2)?

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In seeing the various results of a sower casting seed, what conclusions might we make (Mark 4:3–9)?

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Why did the disciples think they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying (Mark 4:10)?

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Why didn’t Jesus explain everything to everyone (Mark 4:11–12)?

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Why were the disciples in a position to learn the truth (Matthew 13:16–17)?

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What were the prophets and righteous longing to hear and see but could not (Matthew 13:16–17)?

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Which is more important, sowing or reaping (Matthew 13:16–17)? Why?

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In today’s culture, how is “God’s word” best sown (Matthew 13:16–17)?

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Later that day, Jesus left the house and again taught by the seashore. A large crowd gathered from many towns, so many that he boarded a boat, sat down, and from there taught the people who stood on the shore.

Eyewitness

Matthew 13:1–2 Later that day, Jesus left the house and sat by the seashore. A large crowd gathered, so many that he boarded a boat, sat down, and from there taught the people who stood on the shore.
Mark 4:1 Again, Jesus taught by the seashore. A large crowd gathered, so many that he boarded a boat, sat down, and from there taught the people who stood on the shore.
Luke 8:4 When a large crowd had gathered from many towns, Jesus gave this illustration:
King James

Matthew 13:1–2 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Mark 4:1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.
Luke 8:4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

He taught them with illustrations, saying, “Listen! A farmer went to sow his seeds in the field. As he scattered the seeds, some fell on the road, where they were trampled and eaten by the birds. Some fell on rocky ground, where the soil had little depth. The plants sprang up but had shallow roots, so they soon wilted for lack of moisture under the scorching sun. Some seeds fell among thorny weeds that grew more quickly and choked out the tender plants, preventing growth of the grain. Other seeds fell on fertile soil and became healthy plants, producing thirty, sixty, or a hundred times the amount of seed sown. If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying.”

Eyewitness

Matthew 13:3–9 He taught them with illustrations, saying, “A farmer went to sow his seeds in the field. As he scattered the seeds, some fell on the road, where they were eaten by the birds. Some fell on rocky ground, where the soil had little depth. The plants sprang up but had shallow roots, so they soon wilted under the scorching sun. Some seeds fell among thorny weeds that grew more quickly and choked out the tender plants. Other seeds fell on fertile soil and became healthy plants, producing a hundred, sixty, or thirty times the amount of seed sown. If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying.”
Mark 4:2–9 He taught them with illustrations, saying, 3 “Listen! A farmer went to sow his seeds in the field. As he scattered the seeds, some fell on the road, where they were eaten by the birds. Some fell on rocky ground, where the soil had little depth. The plants sprang up but had shallow roots, so they soon wilted under the scorching sun. Some seeds fell among thorny weeds that grew more quickly and choked out the tender plants, preventing growth of the grain. Other seeds fell on fertile soil and became healthy plants, producing thirty, sixty, or a hundred times the amount of seed sown. If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying.”
Luke 8:4–8 When a large crowd had gathered from many towns, Jesus gave this illustration: “A farmer went to sow his seeds in the field. As he scattered the seeds, some fell on the road, where they were trampled and were eaten by the birds. Some fell on rocky ground, where the plants sprang up but soon wilted for lack of moisture. Some seeds fell among thorny weeds that grew more quickly and choked out the tender plants. Other seeds fell on fertile soil and became healthy plants, producing a hundred times the amount of seed sown. If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying.”
King James

Matthew 13:3–9 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 4:2–9 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 8:4–8 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve and other followers, his disciples asked what the illustration meant. “Why do you teach with stories that are difficult to understand?”

Eyewitness

Matthew 13:10 His disciples came to him and said, “Why do you teach with illustrations that are difficult to understand?”
Mark 4:10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve and other followers, he was asked what the illustration meant.
Luke 8:9 His disciples asked what the illustration meant.
King James

Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
Luke 8:9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

Jesus said, “I have given you insights into the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have only the stories. Those who have a desire to hear will be given an abundance of knowledge, but those who dislike the truth will lose what little understanding they have. I teach with stories because some people with open eyes choose to see nothing. They hear with their ears but do not want to understand. In them, the prophet Isaiah’s words are fulfilled: You hear but do not understand. You see but have no recognition. Harden the hearts of these people and close their ears and cover their eyes so they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and be forced to turn to me and be healed.

Eyewitness

Isaiah 6:9–10 The Lord said to deliver this message to the people: You hear but do not understand. You see but have no recognition. Harden the hearts of these people and close their ears and cover their eyes so they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and be forced to turn to me and be healed.
Matthew 13:11–15 Jesus said, “I have given you insights into the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have only the stories. Those who have a desire to hear will be given an abundance of knowledge, but those who dislike the truth will lose what little understanding they have. I teach with stories because some people with open eyes choose to see nothing. They hear with their ears but do not want to understand. In them, the prophet Isaiah’s words are fulfilled: You hear but do not understand. You see but have no recognition. Harden the hearts of these people and close their ears and cover their eyes so they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and be forced to turn to me and be healed.
Mark 4:11–12 Jesus said, “I have given you insights into the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have only the stories. With open eyes, they choose to see nothing. They hear with their ears but do not want to understand so they will not be forced to turn to me and be healed.
Luke 8:10 Jesus said, “I have given you insights into the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but others have only the stories. With open eyes, they choose to see nothing. They hear with their ears but do not want to understand.
King James

Isaiah 6:9–10 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Matthew 13:11–15 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Mark 4:11–12 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Luke 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

“How fortunate you are to have eyes that see and ears that hear. I assure you, many prophets and righteous people have wanted to see what you are seeing. They wanted to hear what you are hearing, but they could not.

Eyewitness

Matthew 13:16–17 “How fortunate you are to have eyes that see and ears that hear. I assure you, many prophets and righteous people have wanted to see what you are seeing. They wanted to hear what you are hearing, but they could not.
King James

Matthew 13:16–17 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

“If you do not understand this illustration, you will not understand any other. This is the meaning of the farmer sowing seeds. The seed is the word of God. The farmer is a person who takes God’ sword to others. The seeds that fell on the road are people who hear the Kingdom message but do not understand. The devil takes away the seed that was planted in their hearts and prevents them from believing and being saved. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are those who hear the message and eagerly accept it, but their roots are shallow. As soon as the message causes them to experience trouble or persecution, they forsake their faith. The seeds that fell among thorny weeds are the people who allow the worries of this life, the enticement of wealth, and the pleasures of this life to choke the message, so no fruit is produced. The seeds that fell on fertile soil are those who hear, understand, and act on God’s word, yielding a huge harvest—thirty, sixty, or a hundred times what was sown.”

Eyewitness

Matthew 13:18–23 “Hear the meaning of the farmer sowing seeds. The seeds that fell on the road are people who hear the Kingdom message but do not understand. The evil one takes away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are those who hear the message and eagerly accept it, but their roots are shallow. As soon as the message causes them to experience trouble or persecution, they forsake their faith. The seeds that fell among thorny weeds are people who allow the worries of this life and the enticement of wealth to choke the message, so no fruit is produced. The seeds that fell on fertile soil are the people who hear, understand, and act on God’s word, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”
Mark 4:13–20 “If you do not understand this illustration, you will not understand any other. The farmer is a person who takes God’s word to others. The seeds that fell on the road are people who hear the Kingdom message but do not understand. Satan comes to take away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are those who hear the message and eagerly accept it, but their roots are shallow. As soon as the message causes them to experience trouble or persecution, they forsake their faith. The seeds that fell among thorny weeds are the people who allow the worries of this life and the enticement of wealth and the desire for other things to choke the message, so no fruit is produced. The seeds that fell on fertile soil are the people who hear, understand, and act on God’s word, yielding thirty, sixty, or a hundred times what was sown.”
Luke 8:11–15 “This is what the illustration means: The seed is the word of God. The seeds that fell on the road are people who hear the Kingdom message but do not understand. The devil takes away the seed that was planted in their hearts and prevents them from believing and being saved. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are those who hear the message and eagerly accept it, but their roots are shallow. In times of temptation, they forsake their faith. The seeds that fell among thorny weeds are the people who allow the worries of this life and the enticement of wealth and the pleasures of this life to choke the message, so no fruit is produced. The seeds that fell on fertile soil are the people who hear, understand, and act on God’s word, in patience yielding a huge harvest.”
King James

Matthew 13:18–23 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Mark 4:13–20 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
Luke 8:11–15 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.