Wind & Waves

Please read Matthew 8:18-34, Mark 4:35-5:20 & Luke 8:22-39

Deep in the Jordan Great Rift Valley, a valley caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates, and surrounded by the hills of northern Israel, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret – Hebrew: ים כנרת) is the lowest freshwater lake on earth at 209 meters (nearly 700 feet) below sea level. In places it plunges to depths of 60m. It is a relatively small lake, approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi) long from north to south, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide at its widest point, with a surface area of of 170 km². In comparison, Lake Victoria (Victoria Nyanza) in East Africa is 1,135 meters above sea level, 337 km long and 240 km wide, with a surface area of 68,800 km².

From any point on the Sea of Galilee’s rocky shore, all other locations along the shoreline are visible. Much of the Sea’s beauty comes from being nestled among the hills; green in the spring, brown during the dry season, which contrast with the deep blue of the water. Around the sea, the hills of Galilee reach nearly 1,400 feet (425m) above sea level, and the mountains of the Golan Heights (called the Decapolis in Jesus’ time) reach more than 2,500 feet (760m).  These heights are a source of cool, dry air. The slopes of the Golan Heights on the east and Mount Arbel on the west drop sharply down to the Sea. The Sea’s location, so far below much of the country surrounding it, makes it subject to sudden and violent storms as the wind comes over the eastern mountains and drops suddenly onto the Sea. The large difference in height between surrounding land and the Sea causes large temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds stirring up the Sea, funnelling through the hills. Storms are especially likely when an east wind blows cool air over the warm air that covers the Sea. The cold air (being heavier) surges down as the warm air rises. This sudden change can produce surprisingly furious storms in a short time. Many of the 12, being fishermen, were used to such storms – but there was a storm to come that would have even them quaking in fear.

When Yeshua saw the crowd around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.   Matthew 8:18 CJB

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”  Mark 4:35 NKJV

One day Yeshua got into a boat with his talmidim and said to them, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  Luke 8:22 CJB

Mark lets us know this happened right at the end of the same day. “Evening”, from the Greek γίνομαι gínomai = to emerge, to become (come into being), transition from one point to another, signifies a change of condition, state or place;  it often describes what is to be created, come into being, happen, or what is about to be produced. Evening was the beginning of a new day. The new day was about to be produced. This was right on the transition from one day to the next. It had been a very long day, with the steady flow of people needing miracles from when Yeshua had arrived back in Capernaum the previous evening, the teaching of parables to the gathered multitude from a boat just off shore, the explanations to His talmidim back in the house, and now down to the sea shore again.

Still, the people kept crowding around Him, eager to learn from Him, to see Him do more miracles and to receive their healing. Yeshua was not drawn to the crowds like they were drawn to Him. He only did what He saw His Father doing. Obeying the Father’s voice was more important that “building His ministry”. The Father had His eye on a despised Gentile across the other side of the Sea of Galilee, a man who had been so violently driven by the enemy that even his own family and community had cut off from him. So Yeshua climbed back into a boat and gave the command to cross over to the other side of the lake.

Still the people kept calling out to Him. These Jews who had come from all around wanted Him to stay with them and keep feeding their thirsty souls.

Then a scribe (Torah-teacher) came and said to Him, “Teacher (Rabbi), I will follow You wherever You go.”  
Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head
.”
Matthew 8:19-20 NASB

As they were traveling on the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 
Yeshua answered him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests, but the Son of Man has no home of his own.”

Luke 9:57-58 CJB

Was it exhaustion speaking? An overwhelming tiredness from constantly giving out and having no time to rest? Following Yeshua would not be an easy path. It was not the way to gain religious prestige nor earthly power or wealth. His was not the comfortable path. Was this Torah-teacher ready for the discomfort of such a self-sacrificing life?

Another of the talmidim said to him, “Sir, first let me go and bury my father.” 
But Yeshua replied, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22 CJB

To another he said, “Follow me!”
But the man replied, “Sir, first let me go away and bury my father.” 
Yeshua said, “Let the dead bury their own dead; you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God!” Luke 9:59-60 CJB

Again we see the gospel tradition of not naming any of the male talmidim (disciples) except for the 12 foundational apostles. Those 12 had already been called and chosen for their unique role, but the call to discipleship, the call to “follow Me” kept being extended to others.

There are differing opinions among Bible commentators as to who this talmid was and whether his father was at this time still alive or had just that day died, or was awaiting his secondary burial a year after his death.

The traditional Jewish preference for prompt burial continued throughout the first century. In Mark 5:38, funeral preparations for Jairus’s daughter begin right away, and in John 11 Lazarus is buried on his day of death. According to Mishnah Sanhedrin 6.6, a corpse should not be kept unburied overnight except on rare occasions. The Jewish burial rite consisted of two parts – the primary burial on the day of death, and a secondary burial a year later.

As soon as death was certain, the deceased’s eyes were closed and the corpse was washed. Perfumes or ointments were used for this washing. The body was then wrapped and bound in strips of cloth. According to the third-century C.E. Jewish tractate Semahot, men could only prepare the corpse of a man, but women could prepare both men and women.   John 11 has such preparations in view: Lazarus’s “hands and feet [were] bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth” (John 11:44). Thus prepared, male relatives and friends would carry the corpse in a procession toward the place of interment, accompanied by friends, neighbours, and relatives. Jewish funeral processions made their way from the family home to the family tomb that day, for the primary burial. Members of the immediate family took the corpse into the tomb while friends and relatives waited outside.  The corpse would be brought into an outer room and laid on the floor, or in special slots in the wall. The ceremony of primary burial seems to have often included spoken words in appreciation for the dead and in sympathy for the bereaved.

After primary burial, the procession returned to the family home, where expressions of condolence continued. Rituals of death continued for several days thereafter. Literary sources, including John 11, agree that for the first seven days, the immediate family remained at home in mourning. If mourners left the house during this time, it was presumed that they would go to the tomb. After seven days, most aspects of ordinary life resumed.

The death of a parent was an exception: children mourned their parents for a full year, until the time of secondary burial.

The secondary burial would take place about a year after the primary burial. At that time, in a private ceremony, family members returned to the tomb, took the bones of the deceased from their resting place on a shelf or a niche, and placed them in another niche, pit, or ossuary, adding them to a pile of bones left by previous generations in an inner sanctum. The one thing expressed most clearly by Israelite burial practices is the common human desire to maintain some contact with the community even after death, through burial in one’s native land at least, and if possible with one’s ancestors.  Jacob’s request, “bury me with my fathers,” (Gen. 49:29), was the wish of every ancient Israelite. This practice of family burial, was common enough to give rise to the Hebrew expressions “to sleep with one’s fathers” (e.g., I Kings 11:23) and “to be gathered to one’s kin” (Gen. 25:8; et al.) as synonyms for “to die.”

Regardless of the individual circumstances of the talmid who responded: “first let me go and bury my father”, Yeshua’s reply  has echoed true down through to ages to so many of His followers in many different circumstances: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

The Wind & Waves Obey

He boarded the boat, and his talmidim followed.  Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake, so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping. Matthew 8:23-24 CJB

So, leaving the crowd behind, they took him just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him.  A furious windstorm arose, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was close to being swamped.  But he was in the stern on a cushion, asleep. Mark 4:36-38a CJB

And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out.  But as they sailed He fell asleep. 
Luke 8:22b-23a NKJV

Yeshua had spoken the Father’s word: “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake” then, confident in the Father’s purposes and exhausted from all the ministry, He fell asleep in the boat. τὸ προσκεφάλαιον – “the pillow” was a part of the ship; no soft luxurious pillow but the leathern cushion of the steersman; the low bench at the stern on which the steersman sometimes sits, and the captain sometimes rests his head to sleep. None of the being tossed around in the boat, nor the water splashing over the sides and drenching Him could arouse Yeshua from this sleep of exhaustion.

We know that Andrew, Peter, James and John had all grown up on the Sea, being trained by their fathers’ as fishermen. Thomas, Nathaniel and Philip may have also worked as fishermen, for they were all together and fishing when Yeshua appeared to them in John 21:2-8, following His resurrection. This boat was being manned by an experienced crew who had plenty of practice handling a boat in stormy seas, yet something about this storm had even them worried and fearing for their lives.

So they came and roused him, saying, “Sir! Help! We’re about to die!” 
Matthew 8:25 CJB

They woke him and said to him, “Rabbi, doesn’t it matter to you that we’re about to be killed?”  Mark 4:38b CJB

And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.   And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Luke 8:23-24 NKJV

In the midst of their fear and panic they knew of only one place to turn for help. All their efforts were failing. All their strength, experience and ability were proving insufficient to save them. Each of us comes to this point when we realise our absolute need of what only He can do.

They knew Yeshua was their only hope, yet in their fear they doubted His love and care for them: “Rabbi, doesn’t it matter to you that we’re about to be killed?” They doubted God’s plan for them: “we are perishing!” Despite their doubts, they turned to Him. Despite their doubts they woke Yeshua and cried out for Him to help them. Despite their doubts, He arose and did what they could not believe. His nature and will for our lives is not confined to what we can believe for – even crying out to Him in our doubts is sufficient, because He is sufficient.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”
Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm.  
The men were astounded. They asked, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?” Matthew 8:26-27 CJB

And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.  
And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 
They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Mark 4:39-41 NASB

Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.  
But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
And they were afraid, and marvelled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Luke 8:24-25 NKJV

Matthew gives us Yeshua’s first response, and it is to His talmidim: “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!” Theirs was not a false fear, a phobia of something conjured by their imagination – they were facing a very real and dangerous situation, a boat that is filled with water does not stay afloat and this violent tempest was tossing them around and filling their boat faster than they could empty it. We can likewise face very real and dangerous situations – famine, flood, drought, war, disease, the children are crying because they have no food, our loved one is dying and we have no money for treatment, our house has been washed away and we are left with nothing, enemies are closing in and we can see no way of escape, the boat is filling with water and we are a long way from land. Like the 12, we can doubt God’s care and provision for us in the mist of situations when we feel that we are perishing. We call out to Jesus, try to arouse Him, but we don’t really believe He will do anything to save us because He hasn’t done anything yet and our situation has just kept getting worse. Then He speaks, and His first words are not to our situation but to us: “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”

Mark gives us Messiah’s words of rebuke to the wind and waves: σιώπα = “hush! be silent!” and πεφίμωσο = “be muzzled!” be put to silence and made still. Yeshua rebuked the wind and the waves as though they were a raging monster, a force sent to hinder the Father’s will. The Greek perfect tense implies that before the word was uttered, the thing was done by the power of his will preceding the word. The wind ἐκόπασεν = grew weary, died down and stopped. The Sea sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating. It changed from a state of dangerous turmoil to one of tremendous and immediate calm.

“Where is your faith?” A question for each one of us. Is our faith in our own ability? Is our faith in our faith? Is our faith in the boat? Is our faith in what we think we know? Is our faith in our circumstances? Is our faith in what we can see and taste and touch? Is our faith in the One who rules over all?

The talmidim had never seen anything like this before. Even though they’d memorised the stories of Moses and the Red Sea and the pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day, they had never even imagined anything like this, that a man would command the wind and waves and they would obey Him. A whole new revelation began to dawn on them as to Who this was that they were following.

When Yeshua arrived at the other side of the lake, in the Gadarenes’ territory, there came out of the burial caves two men controlled by demons, so violent that no one dared travel on that road.  
They screamed, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” 
Now some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.  The demons begged him, “If you are going to drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”  
“All right, go!” he told them.
So they came out and went into the pigs, whereupon the entire herd rushed down the hillside into the lake and drowned.  The swineherds fled, went off to the town and told the whole story, including what had happened to the demonized men.  
At this, the whole town came out to meet Yeshua. When they saw him, they begged him to leave their district. Matthew 8:28-34 CJB

They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.  When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,  and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain;  because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.  Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.  
Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him;  and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 
For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 
And He was asking him, “What is your name?” 
And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.  
Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain.  The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.”  
Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.
Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened.  
They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.  Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine.  And they began to implore Him to leave their region. 
As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him.  And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”  
And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
Mark 5:1-20 NASB

Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.  And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” 
For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?”
And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.  And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.
Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.
When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.  Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.  They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. 
Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.

Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying,  “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” 
And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:26-39 NKJV

They left Capernaum and, after Yeshua had demonstrated His power as the Son of God over the elements by stilling the wind and waves, arrived at the other side of the lake, in the Gadarenes’ territory (Matthew); the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes (Mark); the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee (Luke).

The closest city of any significance was Gadara, hence Matthew and Luke describe the place of this encounter as in χώρα (chóra = the space lying between two places or limits/the region/country/territory) of the Gadarenes. Gadara lay 8km (5 miles) southeast of the shoreline, its territory certainly reached the Sea of Galilee and would have included port towns, for Josephus mentions the fact and its coins show a ship. Gadara was a centre of Greek culture, containing temples to idols, theatres, a hippodrome, an aqueduct, etc., and produced a string of poets, satirists and philosophers.

Mark’s description of the country of the Gerasenes could be the use of a Semitic designation, “land of the foreigners” (Heb gerûšîm; Gk Gerasenoi), as the name for an entire region, or it could refer to the land around a village on the eastern shore that some have identified as Gergesa.  On the south of this village there is a cliff within forty meters of the shore and about 3km from there are cavern tombs. If this was the place of the encounter, as some early church father’s believed, then Hippos could have been the city that the herdsmen ran to.

We don’t have enough information to be confident of the exact location of their landing, but what we do know is that it was an area with a steep bank on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, in the Decapolis – Gentile territory of the ten independent cities to the east of the Sea of Galilee. We saw Yeshua go into Samaria to preach to the Samaritans at the beginning of His ministry, now He had crossed the boundary into Gentile territory to minister. Such a move would have horrified the Jewish religious leaders back in Galilee or Jerusalem. It may have been trepidation about doing something that they had always been taught was ungodly (going into Gentile territory) that had aroused the fears of the talmidim when the storm arose, thinking God had sent it to change their direction as He had to Jonah headed to Tarshish on a boat. Maybe they had not been trying to wake Yeshua to still the storm but in the hope that He would be convinced by the danger it posed to change direction and command they return back to the shore they had come from. Could this be where the charge of “you don’t care about us” came from, the belief that what was needed for their safety was a change in direction and Yeshua was not giving that command. But the storm was not heralding God’s displeasure, it was just hindering His will, until the Son of God arose and rebuked it so the Father’s purposes could be fulfilled.

What Yeshua met upon disembarking from the boat would have confirmed all the prejudices His talmidim had grown up with against Gentiles. This demon-possessed man was unclean in every sense of the word. Matthew, who was in the boat with Yeshua, records there actually being two demon possessed men. It appears that the fruit of one’s deliverance was much more significant than the other, so it is that one’s story which Mark and Luke share with us. Matthew describes them as: “so violent that no one dared travel on that road”. This major trading route, along the east coast of the Sea, was impassable because of the demonically controlled violence of these men. Mark and Luke describe the one who was going to be transformed as wearing no “himation” = outer garment, robe or cloak – often made of wool and also used as a blanket to keep warm at night – and as living in the tombs instead of a home. The people tried to keep him restrained under guard but he kept tearing the chains and shackles apart, self-harming and screaming day and night. These poor men were tormented, out of control, a danger to others, and a danger to themselves. Yet, their connection to the spirit realm also meant that they recognised Yeshua was the Son of God and, against the will of every demon inhabiting them, ran to Him.

Here we see the tremendous conflict within these men, running to Yeshua for deliverance and yet when Yeshua speaks that word of command for them to be set free, out of their mouths the demons speak, begging Him not to do so. The man Mark and Luke focus on was not possessed by just one unclean spirit, but rather he’s occupied by a host of them.  In the Roman army “legion” designated 6,000 soldiers. His condition seemed hopeless, even as the talmidim had felt hopeless in the face of the fierce storm on the Sea. His pitiful condition had become his identity. When asked his name, this man replied “Legion”. He had no name, no identity left, except for what he was captive to. Increasingly today we hear people proudly proclaim their identity as what they are captive to. This man had been completely defined by what assailed him, by what robed him of joy and health, by what hindered him and kept him bound, by all those things that kept him from experiencing life in its abundance.

According to the superstitions of the time these demons had the upper hand over Yeshua – they knew His name and position: Jesus, Son of the Most High God, and they had evaded His questioning their names and instead tried to intimidate by replying: “legion, for we are many.” But Yeshua’s power over them was not in the use of the “right formula”, but in the very nature of His being as the Son of God. No demon could resist His command, so these powerful forces that had exerted such devastating control of the men were reduced to begging. This was Gentile country, they farmed and ate, what were for the Jews, unclean animals such a pigs and there was a herd close by. The scripture does not tell us why Yeshua allowed the demons to enter the swine, instead of sending them to the abys, maybe it was so all the people could see how many this man was being set free from – no matter how large the enemy’s army is, one word from the Son of God sends them all fleeing. These demons were self-destructive in the man, even as he struggled against their power, in the swine they found no such resistance and the whole herd ran violently down the steep slope into the Sea of Galilee and drowned. Both Yeshua’s talmidim and all the herdsmen saw the destructive force that had been cast out of this man. Soon everyone in the closest city knew about it too.

Now we come to the pivotal part in the narrative. Luke gives us the insight: “whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.Yeshua had explained to Nicodemus:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21 NIV

The people of this region loved darkness, they delighted in things that God abhorred. They wanted nothing to do with the holiness of God, with the Light that had come into the world. When the power of God’s holiness was displayed in expelling the demons they were seized with fear that their sin would likewise be exposed for what it was. Two men, whom everyone had pitied and looked down on, two men who had been cast out of their families and society, two men whose deplorable state illustrated the direction their community was headed, these two men longed to be free from it all and came running to Yeshua. These two were set free and that freedom challenged the philosophy this society had been built on. The people were seized with fear and wanted Yeshua gone from their shores. We might think the Jews were resistant to the gospel, but these Gentiles were much worse. They did not come running, as thousands of the Jews had done, to seek Yeshua’s healing and deliverance, and to listen to His teaching. They only came running to get rid of Him, to send Him away, “don’t come back again.”

One man, all alone among His people. One man longing for light. One man hungering and thirsting for righteousness. One man begged (deomai = made an urgent appeal out of a pressing need due to lack) to stay (eimi syn = be thereafter forever joined closely together in full identification) with Yeshua and follow Him wherever He went. One man had become a talmid. His deliverance is recorded in all three synoptic gospels. Yeshua sent (apolyo = released him from all obligation – this man did not need to leave his people and become a Jew like Yeshua) him to return to his own household, become one with his own people again, and prioritise telling them everything that God, the creator and owner of all things, had done for him. This man obeyed Yeshua. This man shared his testimony throughout his region, to all the Gentiles of the Decapolis. This man was the reason Yeshua had told the twelve to take Him to the other side of the lake. This man was the reason the storm tried to stop that journey. This man was in Yeshua’s thoughts as He rebuked the wind and waves, commanded them: “peace, be still.” This man, whose family and community had given up on him. This man became the first messenger of the Gospel to the Gentiles, the first one sent to them with good news.

REFERENCES

1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Laan, Ray Vander. Sea of Galilee Geography. That The World May Know. [Online] [Cited: October 21st, 2020.] https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/sea-of-galilee-geography.
3. Donald DeYoung, Ph.D. What’s Special About the Sea of Galilee? Christian Answers. [Online] 2003. https://christiananswers.net/q-eden/ednk-seaofgalilee.html.
4. Bolen, Todd. The Sea of Galilee. Jerusalem Pwerspective. [Online] October 31, 1989. https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/1476/.
5. Gilad, Elon. The History of Jewish Burial Rites. Haaretz. [Online] April 22nd, 2015. https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/.premium-the-history-of-jewish-burial-rites-1.5353617.
6. The Theological Implications of an Ancient Jewish Burial Custom. Meyers, Eric M. 2, Pennsylvania : University of Pennsylvania Press, October 1971, The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 62. DOI: 10.2307/1453302.
7. McCane, Byron R. Burial Practices in First Century Palestine. Bible Odyssey. [Online] [Cited: October 24th, 2020.] https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/burial-practices-in-first-century-palestine.
8. Glenn. Questions on Mark’s Geographical Ignorance… Gadara versus Gerasa and the problem of the Long Trip Home. Christian Thinktank. [Online] March 23rd, 2008. https://www.christian-thinktank.com/giddygaddy.html.
9. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/8-28.htm.
10. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/5-1.htm.
11. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/8-26.htm.
12. McArthur, Dr. John. Matthew 8–15. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. s.l. : The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago., 1987, p. p. 41.
13. Lose, David. Legion. Working Preacher. [Online] June 16th, 2013. https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=2609.

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

*“The foxes have holes, and the birds flying about have nests, but the Son of Man has no home of his own.” What is some of the price that you have paid for following Jesus?
* Compare the burial customs in your region with the Jewish customs during Jesus’ time.
* Describe a time when you had to “let the dead bury their own dead” in order to follow Jesus, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.
* Describe a time when Jesus has said to you: “Why are you afraid? So little trust you have!”
* How do you answer people who define themselves in terms of their sin or deficiencies, setbacks, disappointments or failures?
* What was the significance of Jesus going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee? 
* What stories of deliverance do you have from God setting people in your community free?
* What is the most important lesson for your people from this section of scripture?

Parables

Please read Mathew 13:1-52, Mark 4:1-34 & Luke 8:4-18
and memorise the Parables

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Matthew 13:1-2 NKJV

Again Yeshua began to teach by the lake, but the crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there, while the crowd remained on shore at the water’s edge. Mark 4:1 CJB

Ministering in a house was good for meeting individual needs, but not for teaching the multitude, and multitudes had come to hear Him. That same day Yeshua had returned to His home – probably arriving in the evening, just after the sun set and so at the beginning of a new Jewish day. That same day His relatives had thought He was loosing His senses and set out to bring Him into custody, he’d not even had time for the evening meal. That same day He had delivered the blind and mute man, possibly as the night had worn on. That same day His mother and brothers had sort to see Him. “On the same day” may have been what we in the west would call “the next morning”, as the crowds starting increasing once more, Yeshua went from His house in Capernaum and walked to the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee is also called Lake Gennesaret, Lake Tiberias, or Lake Kinnereth. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, at levels between 215 metres and 209 metres below sea level. This lake is approximately 53 km in circumference, about 21 km long, and 13 km wide. From its southern end the Jordan River (Hebrew: נְהַר הַיַּרְדֵּן‎, Nahar ha-Yarden) continues downward through the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley (Hebrew: בִּקְעָת הַיַרְדֵּן‎ Bik’at HaYarden) is an elongated geological trough, nestled between mountain ranges to the west and to the east, that runs some 105 km (65 miles) from the Sea of Galilee, if measured “as the crow flies”, with a width averaging 10 km (6.2 mile) with some points narrowing to 4 km (2.5 mile), before widening out to a 20 km (12 mile) delta when reaching the mineral-rich Dead Sea, the lowest lake on Earth. Due to meandering, the length of the Jordan River itself is 220 km (140 mi). This is the valley with the lowest elevation in the world, beginning at −212 m (−696 ft) below sea level (BSL) and descending to the surface of the Dead Sea, which is approximately 1,385 feet (408m) below sea level. As the lowest place on earth, the Jordan valley has a unique climate that can produce fruits and vegetables year-round.

The crowds followed in this low place. Now was the time to teach them. Yeshua got into a boat and sat as one did to teach in the synagogue. The crowd hushed, eager to listen to His words. Yet, those words revealed that He knew most of them would not produce the fruit of His teaching.

The Parable of the Sower

This is the first occurrence of the word “Parable” in St. Matthew’s Gospel, and it is clear from the question of the disciples in Matthew 13:10 that it was in some sense a new form of teaching to them. There had been illustrations before, as in that of the houses built on the sand and on the rock in Matthew 7:24-27, but now for the first time He speaks to the multitude in a parable, without an explanation. Not all of the parables Yeshua spoke are recorded for us, but this first parable was particularly significant, and so recorded in all three synoptic gospels. The only other parable thus presented in all three, Matthew, Mark and Luke, is the Parable of the Vine-dressers, one of the last spoken.

Illustration is an example used to explain or prove something. “By way of illustration” = to show the meaning more clearly.

Parable is from the Greek παραβολαῖς, parabolḗ, which comes from pará, “close beside, withand bállō, “to cast“. παραβολαῖς, parabolḗ had been employed by the Greek translators of the Old Testament for the Hebrew word מִשְלֵי, Míshlê, which we commonly render by “proverb,” and which, like the Greek parabole, has the sense of similitude. Eastern proverbs were usually condensed parables, and parables were expanded proverbs. In the later and New Testament use of the word, however, the parable takes the fuller form of a narrative embracing facts natural and probable in themselves. A parable is a teaching aid cast alongside the truth being taught: “to put one thing by the side of another for the sake of comparison, to compare, liken“. Jesus’ parables cast additional light by using an arresting or familiar analogy. A Parable is a pictorial or narrative exhibition of some spiritual or moral truth, by means of actual and not fanciful elements of comparison.

Fable is a literary genre: a succinct fictional story that features animals,  legendary creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that are anthropomorphized, and that illustrates or leads to a particular moral  lesson (a “moral“), which may at the end be added explicitly as a concise  maxim or saying. Judges 9:1-15 contains a fable about trees choosing a king to rule over them that Jotham, Gideon’s son, spoke to the people of Shechem.

Allegory is a simple story that represents a larger point about society or human nature, whose different characters may represent real-life figures. It may have meaning on two or more levels that the reader can understand only through an interpretive process. The Song of Solomon is an allegory. Yeshua used allegories such as those of the vine and the good shepherd.

Yeshua spoke in illustrations, allegories and parables, not fables – His teachings moved solely within the bounds of the people’s lived experiences and used these to illustrate deeper truths. He never used animals, plants, inanimate objects, imaginary beings and forces of nature as actors that assume speech or other powers of humankind. The mode of teaching by parables was familiar enough in the schools of the Rabbis, and the Talmud contains many of great beauty and interest. As used by the Pharisees and Torah Teachers, however, they were regarded as belonging to those who were receiving a higher education, and the son of Sirach was expressing the current feeling of the rabbinical schools when he said of the tillers of the soil and the herdsmen of flocks that they “were not found where parables were spoken” (Ecclesiasticus 38:33). Yeshua had gone down to the low point of the head of the Jordan valley, the Sea of Galilee, to share parables with all the people during this time when seeds were being sown.

It was now the winter wet season. The fields had been ploughed, the fallow ground broken up. The first rains had come, refreshing the soil. Now it was time for the grain planting throughout the Galilee region.

Yeshua taught the people in parables, using stories of the things they knew to be true in order to illustrate principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of the crowd who had gathered from all over Galilee to listen to this rabbi had walked through fields that were being prepared and sown. The image was fresh in their minds.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” . Matthew 13:3-9 NKJV

He taught them many things in parables. In the course of his teaching, he said to them:  “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he sowed, some seed fell alongside the path; and the birds came and ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky patches where there was not much soil. It sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow;  but when the sun rose, the young plants were scorched; and since their roots were not deep, they dried up.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked it; so that it yielded no grain.  But other seed fell into rich soil and produced grain; it sprouted, and grew, and yielded a crop — thirty, sixty, even a hundred times what was sown.” And he concluded, “Whoever has ears to hear with, let him hear!” Mark 4:2-9 CJB

After a large crowd had gathered from the people who kept coming to him from town after town, Yeshua told this parable:  “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was stepped on, and the birds flying around ate it up.  Some fell on rock; and after it sprouted, it dried up from lack of moisture.  Some fell in the midst of thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.  But some fell into rich soil, and grew, and produced a hundred times as much as had been sown.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear with, let him hear!”
Luke 8:4-8 CJB

The Parable of the Sower is identical in structure and in teaching in the three synoptic gospels, which shows that they were relating the same story. It differs, however, in detail; we thus gather that the three did not copy from one primitive document as some suppose, but that these memories were derived either from their own recollections (Matthew), or at least from different sources (Mark and Luke). The fourth gospel continues to remain silent on this season of Yeshua’s ministry in Galilee.

Mark introduces the parable thus, ἀκούωakouō – meaning hearken! / behold! / listen! / pay attention so as to understand! He thus emphasised that what was about to be spoken was a matter of great importance and concern that deserves our most diligent attention. By “the sower” is meant “the son of man“, as may be learnt from the explanation of another parable (Matthew 13:37), which is Yeshua Himself, who is often so called on account of his human nature. “His seed“; refers to the Gospel, of which He is the author, publisher, sum and substance; and since He is, by way of eminency, “the sower“; which must be understood of him as a prophet, or preacher of the word, who was eminently sent of God, and richly qualified for such an office, and was most diligent in it, and yet the majority of those who had gathered to hear Him would fail to bear fruit. Despite this apparent lack of success, the Kingdom of God would grow exponentially because those who did bear fruit produced up to a hundred times what had been sown into their lives.

Parable of the Lamp

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.  If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:21-23 NIV

No one who has lit a lamp covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed; no, he puts it on a stand; so that those coming in may see the light.  For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nothing is covered up that will not be known and come out into the open.”  Luke 8:16-17 CJB

The furniture of a very humble Eastern home is brought before us in this saying. In the original, each of the nouns has the definite article attached to it, and so suggests that in the house there was but one of each article; one lamp; one ‘bowl’- μόδιος módios – a small piece of furniture that was “a sort of tub in the form of a truncated cone whose base is supported by three or four feet and which contains the wheat supply needed for the household“; one bed, raised slightly, but sufficiently to admit the lamp being put under it without danger; and one lampstand.

The saying appeals to common-sense. A woman does not light a lamp and then hide it. The act of lighting implies the purpose of illumination, and, with everybody who acts logically, its sequel is to put the lamp on a stand, where it may be visible. All was part of the nightly routine of every Jewish household.

All that had hitherto been secret, relative to the salvation of a lost world, or only obscurely pointed out by types and sacrifices, shall now be uncovered and made plain by the everlasting Gospel. The doctrine of Yeshua HaMashiach has nothing in it which fears the light; it is itself the light which must enlighten the world. Everything is brought to light sooner or later. The humble person conceals his virtue in this life, but God will disclose it at the day of eternity. The hypocrite attempts to hide his wickedness here, but all shall be exposed in the sight of heaven and earth.

Openness, honesty and accountability. Nothing will stay hidden. Nothing will remain concealed. Nothing will keep being covered up. Satan plays in the darkness, but Yeshua brings all things into the light. Everything will be disclosed, brought out into the open and made known.

Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
Mark 4:24-25 NKJV

Pay attention, then, to how you hear! For anyone who has something will be given more; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” Luke 8:18 CJB

Yeshua was encouraging them all to be like the good soil, to take heed and pay careful attention to what they were hearing Him say, to take in and receive that life-giving seed He was planting with His words, to allow it to take root and grow within them. He was urging them not to be like the ground by the wayside that was so hard it did not receive the seed sown and had it all taken away by the birds. He was urging them not to be like the rocky ground whose soil was not deep enough for His word to take root properly and survive the heat of the day, nor like that which was full of thorns choking out His word so that even what they seemed to hear made no difference to how they lived and was “taken away”. How were they hearing? Were they hearing in order for His words to take root and transform their lives, to bring all the hidden things to light, or were they listening just to try to find a way to justify their darkness and refuse to allow His word to take root in their hearts?

Take heed what you hear” can also be an injunction to be careful in choosing what we listen to. Refuse to give ear to anything that is unwholesome. Turn a deaf ear to gossip and the maligning of others. Turn your ears away from all that is ungodly and tune them in to the Word of God.

Parable of the Growing Seed

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 NKJV

There is something mysterious and miraculous in both how a seed grows in the ground to produce new life and fruitfulness, and how the word of God grows in a person’s heart to produce new life and fruitfulness in the kingdom of God. It is not the farmer who scatters the seed who causes it to grow, but something within the very DNA of the seed itself that produces growth given the right conditions. It is not the one who preaches the word of God, nor is it a matter of how skilled he is in preaching nor how well he is dressed, nor how skilled the musicians are nor how loud the praise and worship music is – but something within the very word of God itself which, given the right conditions within the human heart, grows and produces a great harvest. This growth is not what happens as the word is being preached, but the miraculous work it does in the heart after the preacher has finished preaching, and even while he is sleeping, as the one who heard the word takes heed to what they heard, meditates on it, has their mind renewed by the washing of the word: “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Parable of the Wheat and Tares

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 uproot 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.
’”
Matthew 13:24-30 NIV

A man (in Vs 37-43 Yeshua explains to His talmidim that this man is “the Son of Man”) sowed good seed (children of the Kingdom) in His field (the world – for the whole world is Him). While not all the seed would fall on good soil so not all would be productive, one would expect that everything produced from good seed would be good grain. But that is not the only thing that happened to that field. While everyone was sleeping, without the people being aware, when no one was alert to what was happening, the enemy (Greek = exthros = one who is irreconcilably hostile, animated by deep-seated personal hatred bent on inflicting harm, in Vs 39 Yeshua identifies this enemy as the devil) came and sowed tares (children of the evil one) among the wheat. This enemy carefully chose the type of weed to inflict the most damage to the crop and the farmer – that which looks like the good grain but is not and is indeed poisonous. Tares (Greek = zizania) are very similar in appearance to wheat during their early stages of growth, but even then they taste very different – a young tare is bitter and can cause dizziness if eaten.

The Bearded Darnel, lolium temulentum, was a common tare in Galilee and resembles wheat except that the grains are black. In its early stages it is indistinguishable in appearance from the wheat stalks. Towards the end of their life cycle, when the head of grain forms, the tares become distinguishable and must be separated because at this time they are poisonous and can ruin the harvest. At harvest time – the end of the age -, wheat bends over from the weight of its fruit (grain). Tares, however, remain erect like the head of an arrogant person. At this time the alert farmer separates them – Yeshua sends His angels to remove all who cause others to sin and all evildoers – burning the poisonous tares and reaping the wheat, which shall shine like the sun in the Father’s kingdom.

Parable of the Mustard Seed

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 seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31-32 NIV

Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?  It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;  but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32 NKJV

The mustard tree has been grown and written about by various cultures for centuries. The Talmud mentions a mustard-tree so large that a man might with ease sit in it; and another, one of whose branches covered a tent. Mustard trees have been found throughout the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. The seeds are one of the smallest in the world and considered a spice in many parts of the world, making its way along trading routes during history. The mustard tree is classified by horticulturalists as an evergreen shrub. It reaches a height of 7m (21 feet) and can be as wide as it is tall with low branches being very close to the ground. The leaves are oval; starting out as dark green and progressing to a light green as the tree ages. The flower is green or yellow and is found in long tendrils. The fruit of the tree is purple with pink or purple seeds. Persia is where mustard trees originated and they  grow best in hot, arid climates, and especially in the rich of the Jordan valley. They sometimes grew to a great height on the banks of the Jordan. 

Mustard trees have a variety of uses. Toothbrushes are made from the branches in rural communities because they contain properties that resist bacteria and plaque. The fruit is eaten for nutrition as well as the seeds; the Punjab region uses the fruit as a dried sweet similar to currants. Mustard trees are also used for shading because of the low branches. Animals can feed on the tree shoots. The different types of mustard trees produce varying seeds. The white mustard tree produces a round seed that is used for mild flavouring and pickling. The black mustard tree also produces hard round seeds; these seeds are more spicy compared to white mustard seeds. Brown mustard trees produce seeds similar to black mustard trees but the seeds have less flavour and is often used in fried foods. Seeds from these trees can also be crushed and used as a spice.

Yeshua was planting the kingdom of heaven in His garden, the Jewish people. This kingdom did not come as a mighty conquering army, but as a tiny seed. He did not demolish Roman or Jewish society, but planted within them the seed of His kingdom that would grow to become larger and more powerful than all – a kingdom of refuge, healing, nurture and shelter for all.

Parable of the Leaven

He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33 NASB

Three can be symbolic of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It can also refer to the whole human race, which consists of three measures, having spread over the earth from the three sons of Noah. The peck here designed, is the Hebrew seah, which held a gallon and an half, and three of these made an ephah; and which is often rendered by the Targumists, (Nyao tlt) , “three specks (ie three pecks)”, the very phrase here used. Genesis 18 contains the first biblical usage of “three seahs of meal.”

And Yahweh appeared to him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre. And he was sitting in the doorway of the tent at the heat of the day.  And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing near him. And he saw them and ran from the doorway of the tent to meet them. And he bowed down to the ground.  
And he said, “My lord, if I have found favour in your eyes do not pass by your servant.  Let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest under the tree.  And let me bring a piece of bread, then refresh yourselves.  Afterward you can pass on, once you have passed by with your servant.”
Then they said, “Do so as you have said.”  
Then Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and he said, “Quickly—make three seahs of fine flour for kneading and make bread cakes!
” 
Genesis 18:1-6 LEB

Here, “three seahs of meal” is used in the context of a fellowship meal—giving hospitality, in this case, to God. In Israelite dry measures the smallest unit of measure is an omer. Three omers equal about one seah. There is also the ephah, which is ten omers. Three seahs made up of about three omers equal one ephah. Judges 6:18-19 shows Gideon’s offering to the Lord of an ephah, three seahs, of meal.  I Samuel 1:24 tells of Hannah’s thank offering of one ephah, three seahs of meal. In Ezekiel 45:24 and 46:5, 7, 11 an ephah, three seahs ,of meal is the offerings given at the Feast during the Millennium.

While the Israelites were to totally remove all leaven from their homes in the lead up to the feast of unleavened bread, and no leaven or honey was to be used in any offering that was made by fire to the Lord, there were offerings which the Israelites were to wave before God then eat in fellowship with one another and these were to be of leavened bread:

No grain offering, which you bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven or any honey as an offering by fire to the Lord. Leviticus 2:11

With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread. Leviticus 7:13

‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the Lord. The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering with two lambs before the Lord; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest. 
Leviticus 23:15-17, 20 NASB

The woman, as any woman would, hid the leaven in the flour as she kneaded it. For leaven is of no use sitting up on top of the loaf for all to see – it cannot do it’s work of raising the whole loaf from that position. It is only when it is hidden, mingled in with all the flour and distributed throughout the loaf, that it can raise and aerate the bread.

Parables Explained

Then the talmidim came and asked Yeshua, “Why are you speaking to them in parables?” He answered, “Because it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them. For anyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have plenty; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away. Here is why I speak to them in parables: they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding.  That is, in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) which says,
‘You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive, because the heart of this people has become dull — with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed,
so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t’shuvah (turn to Me / repent), so that I could heal them.’
But you, how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear! Yes indeed! I tell you that many a prophet and many a tzaddik longed to see the things you are seeing but did not see them, and to hear the things you are hearing but did not hear them.
Matthew 13:10-17 CJB

All these things Yeshua said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without using a parable.  This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet,
I will open my mouth in parables, I will say what has been hidden since the creation of the universe. Matthew 13:34-35 CJB

Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.
Psalm 78:1-4 NASB

His talmidim asked him what this parable might mean, and he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of God; but the rest are taught in parables, so that they may look but not see, and listen but not understand (Isaiah 6:9). Luke 8:9-10 CJB

And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them.
And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.
Mark 4:33-34 NKJV

The words “he said nothing to them without using a parable” are, of course, limited by the context to this occasion. All of Yeshua‘s teachings to the multitude this day, from this boat on the Sea of Galilee, were in parables. It is also noticeable from this time forward that parables are the dominant element in Yeshua’s teaching to the multitude, and that the mysteries of the kingdom are reserved for the more esoteric instruction of the disciples.

Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him… Matthew 13:36 AMP

From the boat in the amphitheatre of the Galilee basin Yeshua projected His voice for all the multitude to hear these parables. They could easily remember and relate to the scenes He portrayed, and ponder on His meaning. After He had finished teaching the multitudes, Yeshua retired again to His house in Capernaum with just His talmidim – men and women who had left everything to sit at His feet to learn of Him; “With Him were the Twelve, and a number of women” (Luke 8:1-2). The first explained parable we have recorded is that of the sower:

Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and  grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 
Matthew 13:18-19 AMP

And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?  The sower sows the word.  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. Mark 4:13-15 NKJV

“The parable is this: the seed is God’s message.   The ones along the path are those who hear, but then the Adversary comes and takes the message out of their hearts, in order to keep them from being saved by trusting it.
Luke 8:11-12 CJB

The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy;  yet he has no  [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation].
Matthew 13:20-21 AMP

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
Mark 4:16-17 NKJV

The ones on rock are those who, when they hear the word, accept it with joy; but these have no root — they go on trusting for awhile; but when a time of testing comes, they apostatize. Luke 8:13 CJB

And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. Matthew 13:22 AMP

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,  and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  Mark 4:18-19 NKJV

As for what fell in the midst of thorns these are the ones who hear; but as they go along, worries and wealth and life’s gratifications crowd in and choke them, so that their fruit never matures.  Luke 8:14 CJB

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23 AMP

But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word,  accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Mark 4:20 NKJV

But what fell in rich soil — these are the ones who, when they hear the message, hold onto it with a good, receptive heart; and by persevering, they bring forth a harvest. Luke 8:15 CJB

As the afternoon wore on, Yeshua continued teaching His disciples, and answering their questions. Yeshua did not shy away from declaring the coming judgment, and describing it in vivid terms:

His disciples came to Him saying, “Explain [clearly] to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,  and the field is the world; and [as for] the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the weeds are the sons of the evil one;   and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.  
So just as the weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend [those things by which people are led into sin], and all who practice evil [leading others into sin],  and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger].  Then the righteous [those who seek the will of God] will shine forth [radiating the new life] like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears [to hear], let him hear and heed My words.
Matthew 13:36-43 AMP

Parables for His Talmidim

Yeshua continued with His teaching of this smaller group who walked with Him, affirming their decision to give up all for the sake of the kingdom of heaven…

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.  

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.  

Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

What terrific strength of language—the “casting” or “flinging” expressive of indignation, abhorrence, contempt (compare Ps 9:17; Da 12:2): “the furnace of fire” denoting the fierceness of the torment: the “wailing” signifying the anguish this causes; while the “gnashing of teeth” is a graphic way of expressing the despair in which its remedilessness issues (see Mt 8:12)! Yeshua deemed this warning so important that He repeated it (Vs 42 & 50).

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.” 

And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”  Matthew 13:44-52 NABRE

When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
Matthew 13:53 NABRE

REFERENCES

1.https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-3.htm
2. https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/matthew-13-3.html
3. https://www.studylight.org/commentary/mark/4-2.html
4. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/4-9.htm
5. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/8-4.htm
6. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/4-21.htm
7. https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/kingdom-god-mustard-seed.html
8. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/mark/4-30.htm
9. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-31.htm
10. https://www.gardenguides.com/124943-mustard-tree.html
11. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-33.htm
12. https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/3589/Three-Measures-of-Meal-.htm
13. https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Leaven
14. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-34.htm
15. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/13-42.htm
16. HELPS Ministries, The Discovery Bible. https://thediscoverybible.com/

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Are there any cultural differences between the farmer sowing his seeds in Jesus’ parable and methods of farming or types of crops in your region?
* What does the parable of the sower teach your people?
* What lighting do you have for houses in your region or in other areas where you minister?
* What does the parable of the lamp teach your people?
* What does the parable of the growing seed teach your people?
* What weeds do your farmers have to deal with, are there any which look like the good plants they are trying to grow? What methods work best in your area for destroying the weeks while saving the good plants?
* What does the parable of the parable of the wheat and tares teach your people?
* Do you have mustard seeds and trees in your area, how well do they grow where you live? If not, do you have another large, useful plant that grows from a tiny seed?
* What does the parable of the mustard seed teach your people?
* What does the parable of the leaven teach your people?
* What are the most important lessons for your people from these parables?
* Write a parable that teaches your people one of the spiritual truths that Jesus taught by relating it to something in everyday life in your country.