1. After this experience at the Pharisee's house, Jesus traveled from one town and village to another, proclaiming a singular message...the good news of the Kingdom of God. As He focused entirely on doing this, the Twelve were with Him, as usual;
2. but there was also another group of disciples who accompanied Him...a large female following...women who had been released from the influence of rebel spirits, and cured of diseases through Him. This group consisted of Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven rebel spirits had been expelled;
3. Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household, Susanna, and many others who are not named here. These women ministered to Jesus, and helped to support His ministry, financially, out of their own means.
4. One day, while a large crowd was gathering, and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, He began to teach, using this illustration:
5. "A certain farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering it, some of it fell along the path. Whatever seed was not trampled under foot there was quickly eaten up by the birds.
6. Some of the other seed fell on rock, or gravelly ground, and when it came up, the vegetation quickly withered because it had no available moisture to sustain it.
7. Other seed that he scattered fell among thorns, which grew up right along with it, and choked the life out of the plants.
8. And still other seed fell on good soil that was conducive to growth. It came up as it should, and produced a beautiful, healthy crop...a hundred times, in fact, more than was sown." After He had said this, He added, "Whoever has a perceptive and discerning ear to hear, let him or her really hear this with comprehension."
9. His disciples weren't sure that they met that criteria, so they came to Him, privately, and asked Him to interpret His illustration.
10. So He said to them "Look...you've been given insight into the mysteries of God's Kingdom...a revelation of its inner workings, and an understanding of its day-to-day operation. You know more about it than you think you know. But those who can't see it yet, intrigued as they may be by My story-telling, only hear My stories as entertainment...that's all they are to them at this point...stories...'illustrations without introspection'...'metaphors without meaning'.
11. But I'll spell it out for you...the seed is the word of God.
12. Those along the path are the ones who hear, but the Adversary (or any adversarial individual or circumstance) comes and takes away the Word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and get results from it.
13. Those who are on the rock, or gravelly ground, are the ones who very happily receive the Word when they first hear it, but they have no root-connection to it...no real root in themselves, or 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.
14. Then the seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear with comprehension...even with revelation...but as they go on their way, the daily cares and anxieties of the world wear them out, and they easily get distracted by the illusions of the age...looking for pleasure and false glamour elsewhere...being deceived by the empty promises of riches. Without even noticing it, the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and strangle the Word, so that they never really mature, fully.
15. But the seed on good soil stands for those 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 and produce a bumper crop in their lives!"