Thursday, May 28, 2009

MkITN IV

1. Again Jesus went back to teaching by the lake, and a huge crowd gathered around Him. So once again He got into an offshore boat in order to sit in it on the water, and everyone either stood or sat along the lakeside on the shore.

2. And He taught them many things that day in His signature story-telling style, using illustrations and comparisons, and in His teaching He said,

3. "Listen to this! One day a sower went out to plant seeds in his fields.

4. And as he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and the birds came and ate it right up.

5. Some other of the same kind of seed fell in the gravel, where there wasn't much soil...and it just sprang right up, but didn't put down roots because it had no depth capability;

6. So in the heat of the sun it was scorched, and because it had not taken root, it withered away just as quickly as it had come up.

7. Other of the same kind of seed fell among the weeds, and the thistles grew and pressed together and suffocated the life right out of it, and it became utterly useless.

8. And still other seed of the same kind fell into good, healthy soil, and produced grain, growing up and increasing, yielding up to thirty times as much in some spots...and sixty times as much in other areas...and even a hundred times as much as had been sown in some places."

9. And He said to them, "If you have an ear to hear what I'm saying, then hear it...consider it...comprehend it!"

10. As soon as He was alone with the Twelve after the session had ended, they began to ask Him about the illustration.

11. And He said to them "You've been given insight into the mysteries of God's Kingdom...a revelation of its inner workings...an understanding of its day-to-day operation. But those who can't see it yet are intrigued by My stories, but that's all they are to them at this point...stories...illustrations without introspection...metaphors without meaning.

12. These are the ones spoken of in the Scriptures...they indeed look and look, but they do not see and perceive...they hear the words over and over again, but do not grasp and comprehend them. But as soon as they open their hearts to the light, they will turn to Me and be forgiven of their willful rejection of the truth."

13. Then He said to them, "Surely you understand this story...I mean, if you don't get this one, how are you going to understand any of them? The whole truth is incrementally revealed in prophetic pictures...sort of like a puzzle put together piece by piece. Do I really need to spell it out for you?

14. All right, then...the sower sows the Word.

15. The ones along the roadside are those who have the Word sown in their hearts, but when they hear it only with their intellect, the Adversary comes immediately and steals the message that was sown in them.

16. And in the same way, the ones sown on the gravelly ground are those who, when they hear the Word, are at once sort of infatuated with it, and have an emotional response to it;

17. But they have no real root in themselves...no sense of covenant relationship to the Word...and so they endure for a little while, but when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately become resentful and basically fall apart.

18. And the ones sown among the thorny weeds are others who hear the Word with some real comprehension;

19. But the daily cares and anxieties of the world just sort of wear them out, and so they get distracted by the illusions of the age, looking for pleasure and false glamour elsewhere, being deceived by the empty promises of riches...and so, without even noticing it, the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and strangle the Word, and it becomes fruitless in their lives.

20. And, finally, those sown on the good, well-prepared soil are the ones who hear the Word and openly receive it, accepting the personal responsibility for their own soil-maintenance. They welcome it and have a mature relationship to it, and so they bear fruit...for some it's thirty times as much as was sown...for others it's sixty times as much...and for still others who fully embrace these concepts, it's even a hundred times as much!"
21. Then He went on to say, "Look...does anyone bring a lamp home and then put it under a basket, or hide it under the bed? Of course not! The lamp's purpose is to be put up high somewhere...like on a lampstand where everyone can benefit from its light.

22. The mysteries of the Kingdom are hidden temporarily...they must be sought first as a revelation or a new birth. But the bottom line is this...there is no hidden spiritual truth that won't eventually be revealed...every part of the truth is meant to be known, either now or later.

23. So again I say...If you have a spiritual ear to hear, then listen deeply, and perceive and comprehend these things."

24. Then He added, "You really need to pay attention to everything you are hearing. Guard the gate, because the ear is a major gate to the understanding...the measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear will be the measure of Kingdom-life you manifest. That's why I say 'if you have an ear' (singular)...not 'if you have ears' (plural). It's not just what you hear, but how you hear it that determines the reality that is ultimately created in your life.

25. Let Me put it this way...to him who has will more be given...and from him who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. Hear this only with your spiritual ear, and you will understand it."
26. Then He said, "Here's something else you should know about how the Kingdom of God works...think of it as being like a man who scatters seed upon the ground,

27. And then he releases it...he doesn't sit there in the field, looking at the spot where he planted the seed, waiting and worrying about how and when it's going to produce something. In fact, in a way he forgets about it...continuing to sleep and rise night and day, while the seed just naturally does what it was destined to do...it grows! And the man doesn't try to overthink the laws of nature...he just embraces the mysterious wonder of it.

28. Meanwhile, the earth produces by itself...living and thriving alone on the original word that created it in the first place. And the miracle of the seed is then manifested through a process...first a simple, inedible blade of grass appears...then a bud with only the promise of grain comes...then the full, mature grain eventually ripens, and is then ready to be harvested.

29. Then and only then the man returns...still not fully understanding how it all worked, but recognizing a potential harvest when he sees it. And then he eagerly puts in the sickle and reaps what he sowed.

30. Now, let's see...what other picture of the Kingdom can I paint for you? What other story can I tell you that will make you see it from another perspective?

31. How about this? It's like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth;

32. Yet after it is sown, defying all natural logic, it grows up and becomes the greatest of all garden herbs, and puts out huge branches...so big that even eagles come and nest in it!"
33. And with many other such stories or word-pictures Jesus spoke the Word to them, as they were able to really 'hear' it...or as was fitting to their experience or maturity level.

34. In fact, He basically explained everything like this to them in story form...but privately to His disciples He interpreted the meaning of each story or illustration, making sure that they didn't overlook the deep profundity housed in the elemental simplicity of each of them.

35. On that same day when evening had come, He said to them, "All right...that's enough story-telling for one day. Let's go over to the other side of the lake now."

36. And leaving the throng, the disciples piled into the boat in which He was sitting, and, along with some other boats, they all launched out into the deep.


37. But when they got out into the middle of the sea-like lake, a furious storm of hurricane proportions unexpectedly arose, and the waves started beating into the boat so violently that it filled up with water in just a few minutes.

38. Meanwhile, Jesus had disappeared from their company into the stern of the boat, and had fallen into a deep sleep there on a leather cot. The frantic men found Him and woke Him up, saying, "Master! Does it even matter to You in the least that we're all about to die?!"

39. And, giving no response to their indicting question, He calmly stood up and ordered the wind to settle down, and said to the sea, "All right...hush now! Be still!" And immediately the wind ceased its raging, and there was a great calm...an entirely different scene, with clear, peaceful skies, and a lake that looked as if it was made of glass.

40. Then He turned around and looked at His astonished staff, and said to them, "Why are you so fragile and fearful? You're not strangers to the sea or to storms...how is it possible that you sometimes seem to have no faith at all?"

41. And this just took their awe of Him to a whole other level. Stunned, they stood there in the quiet peacefulness, and could think of nothing to say to Him in their defense. But as He went back to finish His nap they looked at one another and said, "Who is this? What kind of Man gives orders to the wind and the water...the storm and the sea...and gets them to obey Him?"

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. I think it's interesting that, even though this is a spiritual concept, there is a natural aspect we often miss. Think about what returns someone might get on a monetary investment. If someone told you that your money could double, or quadruple, we'd jump at the chance (one or two fold). But Jesus is putting into earthly terms the idea that what the spirit can offer is far and away better than the natural! By human standards, even thirty fold is a ridiculous return on an investment. Yet we are so often blinded by the 'dazzling returns' of the here and now. Just food for thought.

Brenda said...

It really amaze me the creativity and concept of the word that lies in you. It's not that it sounds well but when I read it the words kindle with the spirit inside me and its just right. Its like that's the piece I have been looking for. My ear hears the WORD and it takes root. My ground is rich for planting and so I take resposibilty for what I am hearing by filtering every thing through the Holy Spirit and it comes up as good and very good.

Anonymous said...

I Don't know what to say, this is the most comprehensive rendering of these parables that I am aware of. The parable of the sower is very well stated in the point made about those who recieve the biggest returns being the ones who take responcibility for preparing and maintaining their own ground.

Too many times we want the preacher to do all the work while we reap the benefit but this makes it even more understandable that we each have a respocibility.

I agree with anon @ 1:33 PM, this is good stuff all the way to the thought of the mustard seed.

Karl said...

One reason I'm liking these passages a lot is because I've recently been planting seeds in my own backyard.
I believe that as I do so, Jesus words about sowing and harvest will all the more sink into my understanding...at least that is what I am praying.

The okra is just now coming up, about an inch high, but I know it's powerful potential because 2 years ago I had some as high as the gutter of the roof!

put another fun picture of Zachary on my blog:happybloggerheart.blogspot.com

Oh, and to Jere in Texas...keep blogging, that's great.

Karl said...

ahhh yes Brenda...receive the "IMPLANTED" word. James 1:21

...everyone must be quick to HEAR-
James 1:19

Karl said...

fun word ver: gistso
Trying to get things gistso, ya' know like "just so".

Avatar said...

Peace.

Although I haven't commented on having the pictures back in the ITN postings they've been a sight for sore eyes. Not required of course, but they are definitely the sprinkles on the sweet manna here...especially the tranquil sea of Peace today. There are some great works of art showing Jesus speaking to the angry sea...but there's something about this one, showing the RESULTS of his words that is very satisfying.

Another body of water...speaking volumes to our souls.

Thank you, Bishop for the many gifts you give us. May the Peace of this picture be multiplied to you and may the gifts you constantly give and have given be multiplied to you, may even the pressed down version bowl you over with the sheer magnitude of the things you have given without ever knowing.

Donald said...

25. Let Me put it this way...to him who has will more be given...and from him who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. Hear this only with your spiritual ear, and you will understand it."
I know that is what Jesus said, but how in the world do you take something from somebody who has nothing?
I guess it's sort of like what a guy told me one time. He said that he came into this world with nothing and he still had most of it.
But seriously, it's turning into a wonderful paraphrase Bishop. Keep it up!

Izumi/JOY said...

v.11. "illustrations without introspection...metaphors without meaning" - wow! I like that.

38 & 39 - I like the duality of that word, "stern"- the after part of a vessel. Love how Jesus disappeared into it, re-emerging to order peace.

Northern Light said...

I just posted in the Prayer Room.....W2o3RG. I feel a nudge from the HS that it may be a word for someone, so please stop in and take a look. It's the 8:16am posting.

Peace,
Northern Light

Izumi/JOY said...

v. 21 - "...like on a lampstand where everyone can benefit from its light."

Here's what the subsequent verses illuminate for me: Jesus taught the disciples and the crowds about planting; where seeds fell.

The fields were in earth. He mentioned several favorable growth conditions. All associated with earth's physical realm.

The Word sowed words into the atmosphere - like His own birth & like the world's in Genesis.

Because of the air's receptivity (v.27,28), notice what occurred ten verses later.

v. 38. John 12:24 hadn't dawned on them, yet.

v. 39 looks like the manifestation of the Lord's prayer. (on earth as it is in heaven)

Peace!

peacemaker said...

I concur with GodWordnsprd from his Twitter tweet--This a masterpiece. A truly masterful revealing of a story whose universal meaning has, for so long, been hidden by other translators in the box of one tradition.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: you have transcended time and space with this paraphrase and tapped the conversation Jesus had with his friends(disciples). I'm certainly no scholar, but I've read enough translations, editions, versions, and paraphrases to comprehend the difference. I love the Bible, but as I have evolved spiritually, I have changed my attitude towards it. Not negatively, just different. Reading most versions I seem to be 'hear' the agenda each translator/translation is trying to convey and not just with the Judeo-Christian Scripture but other traditions scripture as well. JITN, MITN, and now, MkITN, as far as I can see, has no hidden agenda. It is what it is-- a very readable, simplistic, yet profound, deep, and universal, work. It's clear to see the 'time and effort' you have put into each one and it's equally as clear to see that you have done so without each verse screaming: "Jim Swilley wrote this". You seemed to have put ego aside (which, if I had written something this good, probably couldn’t have done) and allowed only the true essence of the Master Teacher as perceived by the original authors along with your prophetic insight and revealed the boldness, along the subtle loving nuances, within each one--verse by verse.
That is but a few things that make these works fresh, original, and true masterpieces.
It has already begun with the individuals who read this blog, but when these works are available to the masses, they will forever change the way the Gospels are perceived. They will be the flint that sparks a renewed interest in the teachings of Jesus on a global scale as revealed through the pureness of the universal Christ and not 'Christianity'.
Simply stated--they’re awesome!

PM

Avatar said...

PM, this rises in my spirit at the reading of your words: these things have not been revealed to you by man...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Interesting observation, Anon1:33...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, Brenda...I know some of the revelation has stretched you, and I appreciate that you are open...

Going from glory to glory theologically is always a challenge, but the end result is worth it...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

I'm giving you a big cyber-hug right now, Anon@6:02...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

You're a good dad, Karl...thanks for the comment...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, Avatar...the pics help, I think, on a couple of levels...they break up the monotony of so much print on the screen, and also help convey the impact of the message...

And I really liked the Peace, Be Still print, too, for the same reason...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Thanks, Donald...your insights are always important to me...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Izumi/Joy...as always, you have the prophetic eye...you see things in the writing that I didn't even see...thanks...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

NL...glad we smoked the peace pipe...your cry for help about feeding the kids gave me a chuckle...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Peacemaker...I don't think of you as a friend, any more...I know you'll understand what I mean by that...when I read words like you wrote here, I realize more than ever that the role you play in my life is that of a key and a touchstone...friends are great, and we all need them...but you're really not that for me...you're a prophetic point of reference, and have been for some time now...

Some might think that the things you say about the writing is just flattery, but you and I both know that it's much more than that...

Your words help keep me on track, and continually locate a better version of myself buried somewhere deep inside...

A simple "thank you" is not enough...

I don't even have a word for it...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

And Pastor Avery...I know you read this, and I want to tell you that your prompt and vigilant proofing of the writing is a gift...

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

And while I'm on the subject...SOZ, I don't know if you're here every day, but when I was writing that to Peacemaker, it reminded me that a few weeks ago there were several comments you made...words in season that were more timely and needed than you could imagine...

You definitely have an ability to speak life...

P. Avery said...

Pa rum pah pah pum...

Izumi/JOY said...

Thank you, and you're welcome, Bish.

According to your words, so be it unto me. (let me always have the prophetic eye, let me always see things in the writing) And, not only me - my family line, too.)

I add my enthusiastic agreement to all these encouraging posts. I identify with what PM shared about having a changed attitude towards the Bible; not negatively - just differently.

When the Word is available in a fresh, new context, as it is here, who would choose to go back to form without power?

Sanctuary much.

Pamela said...

OH MY GOD IS GREAT. AMEN, AMEN, AND AMEN!!!!! Your sermon,service was totally awesome, I believe it was one if not your best. OMG, The way you tied it ALL IN. The Tree of Life and The Tree of Good and Evil, How God saw us, How he sees us now, First Adam , Second Adam. The Power of the Blood. Wow, Wow, Wow, I want to see myself and others as God sees us. My prayer life will never be the same. GREATER WORKS ARE YET TO COME IN THIS CITY! IN THIS NATION, IN THIS WORLD. BISHOP YOU ROCK.
You have told us all this before, but never like this and it ALL CLICKED, IT ALL FELL INTO PLACE IN MY SPIRIT. I just can't stop thinking OMG. FYI, I tried to twitter but could not figure it out.
!!!!The CORN IS IN CONYERS!!!!!!!!
God Bless YOU, Love, Peace, Favor, Greater Works, Pamela T (Spencer's MOM, LOL - NO vocals) here)