The Parable of the Sower

1 Again(A) He began to teach(B) by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea. 2 He taught them many things in parables,(C) and in His teaching(D) He said to them: 3 “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow.(E) 4 As he sowed, this occurred: Some seed fell along the path,(F) and the birds came and ate(G) it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it sprang up right away,(H) since it didn’t have deep soil. 6 When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it didn’t have a root, it withered.(I) 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce a crop. 8 Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop that increased(J) 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”(K) 9 Then He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!”(L)

Why Jesus Used Parables

10 When He was alone with the Twelve,(M) those who were around Him asked Him about the parables.(N) 11 He answered them, “The secret(O) of the kingdom of God(P) has been given to you, but to those outside,(Q) everything comes in parables 12 so that

they may look and look,
yet not perceive;
they may listen and listen,
yet not understand;(R)
otherwise, they might turn back—
and be forgiven.(a)(S)(b)

The Parable of the Sower Explained

13 Then(T) He said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable?(U) How then will you understand any of the parables? 14 The sower sows(V) the word.(W) 15 These(c) are the ones along the path(X) where the word is sown: when they hear, immediately Satan(Y) comes and takes away the word(Z) sown in them.(d) 16 And these are(e) the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy.(AA) 17 But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When pressure(AB) or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble.(AC) 18 Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, 19 but the worries(AD) of this age,(AE) the seduction(f)(AF) of wealth,(AG) and the desires(AH) for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.(AI) 20 But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word,(AJ) welcome it, and produce a crop:(AK) 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”

Using Your Light

21 He(AL) also said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed?(AM) Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand?(AN) 22 For nothing is concealed except to be revealed,(AO) and nothing hidden except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, he should listen!”(AP) 24 Then He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure(AQ) you use,(g)(AR) it will be measured and added(AS) to you. 25 For to the one who has, it will be given, and from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”(AT)

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 “The kingdom of God(AU) is like this,” He said. “A man scatters seed on the ground; 27 he sleeps(AV) and rises(AW)—night(AX) and day, and the seed sprouts and grows—he doesn’t know how. 28 The soil produces a crop(AY) by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the ripe grain(AZ) on the head. 29 But as soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle,(BA) because the harvest(BB) has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 And(BC) He said: “How can we illustrate the kingdom of God,(BD) or what parable(BE) can we use to describe it? 31 It’s like a mustard seed(BF) that, when sown in the soil, is smaller than all the seeds on the ground. 32 And when sown,(BG) it comes up and grows taller than all the vegetables,(BH) and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky(BI) can nest in its shade.”

Using Parables

33 He would speak the word(BJ) to them with many parables(BK) like these, as they were able to understand.(BL) 34 And He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples.(BM)

Wind and Wave Obey the Master

35 On(BN) that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. 37 A fierce windstorm(BO) arose, and the waves(BP) were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping(BQ) on the cushion. So they woke Him up(BR) and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”(BS)
39 He got up, rebuked(BT) the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence!(BU) Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful?(BV) Do you still have no faith?”
41 And they were terrified(BW) and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey(BX) Him!”(BY)


a. Mark 4:12: Other mss read and their sins be forgiven them
c. Mark 4:15: Some people
d. Mark 4:15: Other mss read in their hearts
e. Mark 4:16: Other mss read are like
f. Mark 4:19: Or pleasure, or deceitfulness
g. Mark 4:24: Lit you measure

Cross references:

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