FTER Jesus had journeyed through the southern parts of Galilee, teaching and healing the sick, he came again to Capernaum; and one day went out of the city to a place where the beach rose up gently from the water. There he sat in Simon Peter's boat, as he had sat before, and spoke to a great crowd of people who stood on the beach.
At this time Jesus began teaching the people by parables; that is, by stories which showed the truths of the gospel. Everybody liked to hear a story; and the story would often lead people to think, and to find out the truth for themselves. The first of these parables or stories that Jesus gave was called "The Parable of the Sower."
"Listen to me," said Jesus. "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, where the ground was hard, where some of the seed was trodden down, and other seeds were picked up by the birds. Some of the seed fell where the soil was thin, because rocks were under it. These seeds grew up quickly, but when the sun became hot, they were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough soil and moisture for their roots. Other seeds fell among briars and thorns, and the thorns kept them from growing. And some seeds fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, thirty times as many as were sown, sixty times, and even a hundred times. Whoever has ears to hear this, let him hear!" When Jesus was alone with his disciples, they said to him, "Why do you speak to the people in parables? What does this parable about the man sowing his seeds mean?"
And Jesus said to them, "To you it is given to know the deep things of the kingdom of God, because you seek to find them out. But to many these things are spoken in parables, for they hear the story, but do not try to find out what it means. They have eyes, but they do not see; and they have ears; but they do not hear. For they do not wish to understand with the heart, and turn to the Lord and have their sins forgiven them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Listen now to the meaning of the parable of the sower.
"The sower is the one who speaks the word of God; and the seed is the word which he speaks. The seed by the roadside are those who hear; but the evil one comes, and snatches away the truth, so that they forget it. The seed on the rock are those who hear the word with joy, but have no root in themselves, and their goodness lasts only for a little time. That which is sown among the thorns are they who hear, but the cares of the world, and seeking after riches and the enjoyments of this life, crowd out the gospel from their lives, so that it does them but little good. But that which is sown on the good ground are they who take the word into an honest and good heart, and keep it, and bring forth fruit in their lives."
Another parable or story given by Jesus to the people was, "The Parable of the Tares":
"The kingdom of God is as a man sowing good seed in his field; but while people were asleep, his enemy came and sowed tares, or weeds, among the wheat, and then went away. When the shoots of grain began to have heads of wheat then the tares were seen among them. The servants of the farmer came to him, and said, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How did the tares come into it?'
"He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.'
Another parable was that of "The Mustard Seed." He said:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. This is the smallest of all seeds: but it grows up to be a large bush, almost a tree, so that the birds of the air light upon its branches and rest under its shadow."
Another parable was "The Leaven, or Yeast":
"The kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven, or yeast, that a woman mixed with dough when she was making bread. It worked through all the dough and changed it into good, light bread."
These parables Jesus told to the people as he sat in the boat and the people stood on the shore. But he did not tell them what the parables meant, for he wished them to think out the meaning for themselves. After giving the parables he sent the people away, and came back to the house in the city. There his disciples said to him, "Tell us the meaning of the parable of the tares growing in the field."
Jesus said to them, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are those who belong to the kingdom of God; but the tares, the weeds, are the children of the evil one; the enemy that sowed them is Satan, the devil; and the reapers are the angels. Just as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send out his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all that do evil and cause harm, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. But the people of God in that day shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
And in the house Jesus gave to his disciples some more parables for them to think upon. He said:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure which a man found hidden in a field. He was glad when he saw it, but hid it again; and then went home and sold all that he had and bought that field with the treasure in it.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who was seeking precious pearls. This man found one pearl of great price. He went and sold all that he had, and bought the pearl.
"Once more: the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, and took in fish of all kinds. When it was full, they drew the net to the shore. Then they sat down and picked out the good fish from among the bad. The good fish they put away for safe keeping, but the bad fish they threw away. So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall come, and shall place the wicked apart from the good, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."