After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples
to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.
Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written: "`I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.
And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
He who has ears, let him hear.
"To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
"`We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon.'
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.
"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.
But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."
At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.
Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."
He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.
Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent?
I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.
If you had known what these words mean, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue,
and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?
How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick,
warning them not to tell who he was.
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope."
Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.
All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?
And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.
But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."
He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
Then it says, `I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.
Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."
He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.
Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed.
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.
But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
He who has ears, let him hear."
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "`You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:
When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
"The owner's servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
"`An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
"`No,' he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.
Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."
He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.
So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world."
Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.
The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
"Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.
When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied.
He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.
Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked.
"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.