One day Jesus taught the people beside Lake Galilee, using a story about different kinds of dirt to present his message (69).
“Once there was a farmer who went out to plant some grain seed.
- As he spread the seeds over the field, some of them fell along the hard path, and the birds came and ate up those seeds right away.
- Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where there was very little dirt. The seeds sprouted, but because the dirt wasn’t deep, the sprouts were soon burned up by the sun.
- Some of the seeds fell among thorn bushes, which eventually grew up and choked the plants, so they didn’t bear any grain.
- But some of the seeds fell in good dirt, where the plants sprouted, grew, and bore fruit; some plants had thirty grains, others sixty grains, and others a hundred grains.”
Jesus concluded, “Listen to what God is saying to you!”
Later, when Jesus was alone, some of the people asked him to explain why he used stories to teach. “As you understand my stories you are receiving the keys to living in God’s kingdom here on earth,” Jesus said. “But many people, who don’t care about God’s kingdom, will hear my stories & never understand them at all. It is very important for you to understand these stories.
“The farmer is anyone who shares God’s message.
- Some people are like the hard path; as soon as they hear the message, Satan comes and takes it away. It’s like it goes in one ear & out the other.
- Some people are like the rocky ground. As soon as they hear the message, they receive it gladly. But when trouble or persecution comes because of the message, they forget the message immediately.
- And some people are like the thorn bushes. They hear & receive the message, but the message is gradually choked out by their worries, by love of money & by other desires, so they never bear any grain but instead remain unfruitful.
- But some people are like good dirt. They hear the message, receive it & live their lives by it, and so they bear fruit — some a little grain, some even more grain, and some a lot of grain.”
Jesus wanted to emphasize that it’s important for his students to share God’s message, just as it’s important for the farmer to sow the seed. So he said, “Does anyone ever put his lamp under a basket or under the bed? Doesn’t he put it on the lamp-stand? In the end, God will be the judge of how people share his light.”
Jesus again added, “Listen to what God is saying to you! Pay attention to what you hear. The same rules you use to judge others will be used by God to judge you — but with even greater severity.”
Jesus concluded by emphasizing that God will reward diligent faith, just as he rewards the diligent farmer with a good crop: “The person who makes continuing effort to live in God’s kingdom will grow into a stronger relationship with God. But the person who makes no effort to live in God’s kingdom will find his relationship with God withering away.”
(69) Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-25, Luke 4:4-17