When Jesus left the house in which he’d been staying, he walked down to the shore of the lake and took a seat overlooking it. Soon such a large crowd soon gathered around him that he was obliged take a boat out onto the lake and speak to the people from there.
He taught them many things by means of analogies.
“A farmer went out to sow a crop,” he said, “and as he scattered his seed across the field, some landed on a footpath. Then the birds flew down and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky soil, where it sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted when the sun grew hot, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked the young plants. But other seed fell on good soil and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Now, stop for a moment and think about what I’ve just said.”
Then the disciples came up to him and asked, “Why do you always use analogies when you speak to the people?”
“You’re privileged,” he said. “You know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but others don’t. To those who have this knowledge, even more will be given, and then they’ll have an abundance. But to those who don’t, even what they think they have will be taken away. That’s why I use analogies. It’s because these people look, but they don’t see: they hear, but they don’t listen in a way which leads to understanding. So the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled which said: ‘You will always be hearing, but you will never understand. You will always be looking, but you will never comprehend. For the hearts of these people have become hardened. They have closed their ears and shut their eyes, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back to let me heal them.’
“But your eyes are privileged because they see and your ears are privileged because they hear. And I can assure you that many prophets and honourable people longed to see what you’ve seen, but they never saw it. They wanted to hear what you’ve heard, but they never heard it.
“Now, let me explain the analogy of the farmer to you. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the kingdom, but don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was sown in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it happily. But because they don’t have much root, they don’t last very long. As soon as any problems or persecution comes along, they quickly fall away. The seed that fell among thorns represents those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of money choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear the word and understand it. Then they produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been originally sown.”