Matthew 13
Contemporary English Version

A Story about a Farmer

(Mark 4.1-9; Luke 8.4-8)

1That same day Jesus left the house and went out beside Lake Galilee, where he sat down to teach.+ 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to sit in a boat, while the people stood on the shore. 3Then he taught them many things by using stories. He said:

A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn't very deep. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have deep roots. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. 8But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants produced 100 or 60 or 30 times as much as was scattered. 9If you have ears, pay attention!

Why Jesus Used Stories

(Mark 4.10-12; Luke 8.9,10)

10Jesus' disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you use stories to speak to the people?”

11Jesus answered:

I have explained the secrets about the kingdom of heaven to you, but not to others. 12 Everyone who has something will be given more. But people who don't have anything will lose even what little they have. 13I use stories when I speak to them because when they look, they cannot see, and when they listen, they cannot hear or understand. 14 So God's promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said,

“These people will listen

and listen,

but never understand.

They will look and look,

but never see.

15All of them have

stubborn minds!

They refuse to listen;

they cover their eyes.

They cannot see or hear

or understand.

If they could,

they would turn to me,

and I would heal them.”

16 But God has blessed you, because your eyes can see and your ears can hear! 17Many prophets and good people were eager to see what you see and to hear what you hear. But I tell you they did not see or hear.

Jesus Explains the Story about the Farmer

(Mark 4.13-20; Luke 8.11-15)

18Now listen to the meaning of the story about the farmer:

19The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message about the kingdom, but don't understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the message from their hearts. 20The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it at once. 21But they don't have deep roots, and they don't last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.

22The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 23The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and understand the message. They produce as much as 100 or 60 or 30 times what was planted.

Weeds among the Wheat

24Jesus then told them this story:

The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.

26When the plants came up and began to mature, the farmer's servants could see the weeds. 27The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn't you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”

28“An enemy did this,” he replied.

His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”

29“No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. 30Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I'll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I'll order them to store the wheat in my barn.”

Stories about a Mustard Seed and Yeast

(Mark 4.30-32; Luke 13.18-21)

31Jesus told them another story:

The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a farmer plants a mustard seed in a field. 32Although it is the smallest of all seeds, it grows larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree. Birds even come and nest on its branches.

33Jesus also said:

The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a woman mixes a little yeast into three big batches of flour. Finally, all the dough rises.

The Reason for Teaching with Stories

(Mark 4.33,34)

34Jesus used stories when he spoke to the people. In fact, he did not tell them anything without using stories. 35 So God's promise came true, just as the prophet+ had said,

“I will use stories

to speak my message

and to explain things hidden

since the creation

of the world.”

Jesus Explains the Story about the Weeds

36After Jesus left the crowd and went inside,+ his disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the story about the weeds in the wheat field.”

37Jesus answered:

The one who scattered the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seeds are the people who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are those who belong to the evil one, 39and the one who scattered them is the devil. The harvest is the end of time, and angels are the ones who bring in the harvest.

40Weeds are gathered and burned. That's how it will be at the end of time. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. 42Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. 43 But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention!

A Hidden Treasure

44The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when someone finds a treasure hidden in a field and buries it again. Such a person is happy and goes and sells everything in order to buy that field.

A Valuable Pearl

45The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. 46After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl.

A Fish Net

47The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a net is thrown into a lake and catches all kinds of fish. 48When the net is full, it is dragged to the shore, and the fishermen sit down to separate the fish. They keep the good ones, but throw the bad ones away. 49That's how it will be at the end of time. Angels will come and separate the evil people from the ones who have done right. 50Then those evil people will be thrown into a flaming furnace, where they will cry and grit their teeth in pain.

New and Old Treasures

51Jesus asked his disciples if they understood all these things. They said, “Yes, we do.”

52So he told them, “Every student of the Scriptures who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like someone who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom.”

The People of Nazareth Turn against Jesus

(Mark 6.1-6; Luke 4.16-30)

53When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he left 54and went to his hometown. He taught in their synagogue, and the people were so amazed that they asked, “Where does he get all this wisdom and the power to work these miracles? 55Isn't he the son of the carpenter? Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? 56Don't his sisters still live here in our town? How can he do all this?” 57 So the people were upset because of what he was doing.

But Jesus said, “Prophets are honored by everyone, except the people of their hometown and their own family.” 58And because the people did not have any faith, Jesus did not work many miracles there.


13.1 sat down to teach: See the note at 5.1.
13.35 the prophet: Some manuscripts have “the prophet Isaiah.”
13.36 went inside: Or “went home.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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