Women Who Helped Jesus
1Soon after this, Jesus was going through towns and villages, telling the good news about God's kingdom. His twelve apostles were with him, 2 and so were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and all sorts of diseases. One of the women was Mary Magdalene, who once had seven demons in her. 3Joanna, Susanna, and many others had also used what they owned to help Jesus and his disciples. Joanna's husband Chuza was one of Herod's officials.
A Story about a Farmer
(Matthew 13.1-9; Mark 4.1-9)
4When a large crowd from several towns had gathered around Jesus, he told them this story:
5A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. While the farmer was doing this, some of the seeds fell along the road and were stepped on or eaten by birds. 6Other seeds fell on rocky ground and started growing. But the plants did not have enough water and soon dried up. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. 8The rest of the seeds fell on good ground where they grew and produced a hundred times as many seeds.
When Jesus had finished speaking, he said, “If you have ears, pay attention!”
Why Jesus Used Stories
(Matthew 13.10-17; Mark 4.10-12)
9Jesus' disciples asked him what the story meant. 10 So he answered:
I have explained the secrets about God's kingdom to you. But for others I use stories, so they will look, but not see, and they will hear, but not understand.
Jesus Explains the Story
(Matthew 13.18-23; Mark 4.13-20)
11This is what the story means: The seed is God's message, 12and the seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But the devil comes and snatches the message out of their hearts, so they will not believe and be saved. 13The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don't have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.
14The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they are so eager for riches and pleasures that they never produce anything. 15Those seeds that fell on good ground are the people who listen to the message and keep it in good and honest hearts. They last and produce a harvest.
A farmer carefully prepares the soil to increase the chances of a good harvest. But the quality of the seed is of utmost importance. If one out of every ten seeds a farmer planted failed to grow, he would lose ten percent of his crop. If two out of every ten seeds failed to germinate, the farmer would lose 20 percent.
In this story the seed was the highest quality possible. It represented God’s word – the things important enough to God that he wanted to share them with us. In Jesus’ parable, there was nothing wrong with the seed. Whether or not it grew depended on the condition of the soil.
The parable of the sower was a story easily understood by the hearers of the day. But the spiritual meaning behind this description of a familiar agricultural process had to be explained . . . even to Jesus’ disciples.
The condition of my heart determines the impact of God’s word on my life. A hard or indifferent attitude can cause me to miss out on what God may be trying to say to me. The cares, riches and pleasures of life can crowd out the good seed, preventing it from reaching maturity.
God has given me his Word. My job is to prepare my heart to receive it.
Lord of the harvest, thank you for your promise that your word will accomplish the purpose for which you sent it. Help me to prepare my heart to receive your word so that its roots may go deep and produce fruit in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.