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CHAPTER FOUR "Scattered"

Jesus then went back out by the Sea of Galilee and began to teach there. An enormous crowd surrounded him and so once again, he stepped into a small wooden fishing boat. Jesus sat in the boat out on the lake while the entire crowd sat on the shore. He started to teach them using illustrations and stories to get his point across. "Listen here, everyone! Look at this! A farmer went out to scatter some seeds. As he threw the seed on the ground, some fell on the road. The birds came and gobbled it up like wild, hungry animals." "Other seeds fell on the stony ground that didn't have enough soil. These seeds sprang up immediately because the ground was so shallow. When the sun came, though, they were scorched and dried up because they had no roots to supply them with water." "Other seeds fell into thorny weeds. Pretty soon the thorns and weeds cut off the seed's light and food, choking them to death. They died and failed to produce any crop." "Other seeds fell into the fertile soil and produced crops. Later they even produced thirty and sixty and one hundred times more crops than had been planted!" "This goes for anyone who has ears that can hear. Listen to what I'm saying!"

"Thirty and sixty and one hundred times more than had been planted!"

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’ And he said, ‘Go and say to this people: “Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand. Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed."

-The Prophet Isaiah 6:8-10

Later, when they were alone, the twelve Senders and the others with them asked Jesus to explain the stories and illustrations he used because they just couldn't get it. "Really, guys? Come on," Jesus said. "The secret plans of God's reign have been given to you and you still don't understand!? You're killing me here!" "Ok, here's what's really going on," he chided. "I'm telling these outsiders important things in riddles so that they miss things right under their noses, so that my teachings go in one ear and out the other. After all, we don't want them changing their minds, turning back to God and being forgiven now, do we? That's definitely not what we're about here, is it?" "Do you really not understand this illustration?" he asked in frustration. "How are you ever going to get the rest of what I have to teach you?" "Fine," he went on. "I'll spell it out for you." "The farmer spread's God's message. The seed on the road represents the ones who hear the message, but immediately The Enemy comes and seizes the message planted in them." "The seed on the rocky ground represents those who hear the message and immediately get all excited and worked up over it. But they, remember, are shallow, they don't have deep roots, and so this emotional period is only temporary. Pretty soon trouble rears its ugly head or they are harassed because of the message and they immediately slip up again and stumble back into their old life like nothing ever happened." "The seed planted in the weeds and thorns represents the people who hear the message, but the stress of everyday life, the empty promises of wealth and material things, and the cravings for everything else comes into the picture and chokes the message. In the end, this is unfruitful and brings forth nothing good." "The good soil, then, represents someone who hears the message and believes it to be true. These people are incredibly productive, bearing a crop of 30 to 60 to even 100 times more than was originally planted."

"Why on earth would someone take a lamp and hide it in a giant bucket?" Jesus asked them. "Why would someone hide a lamp under a bed? Wouldn't you want to put it out in the open on the lamp-stand?" "Nothing that is hidden can stay hidden for long. Secrets hidden in the dark eventually come out in the light. We are not hiding things in buckets or under beds. We are putting them out on the lamp-stand, out in the open." "Again, this goes for anyone with ears that work. Listen to what I'm saying!" "Pay attention to what you are hearing!" he said. "What you put in will be what you get out, and then some! Those of who have a hint about what I'm saying will be given even more. For those who don't have a clue? Well, even what little they think they know now will be taken away from them."

"God's action in our world is like a farmer who throws a seed in some dirt," Jesus said. "Now day after day, the farmer goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning. And even though he doesn't know anything about the inner workings of biology or botany, the seed keeps growing, day after day and night after night." "The dirt, you see, grows the seed by itself. First, a tiny sprout pokes up out of the ground. Then a head pokes through the top of the sprout. Finally, the head ripens into a grain of wheat." "As soon as the grain is ripe, the farmer immediately goes in with a sickle because the harvest is ready." "How else could I describe God' action in the world?" Jesus continued. "What other illustration could I use?" "It is like a mustard seed," he said. "When you plant it in the dirt it is the smallest seed around." "When it grows up, though, it becomes the biggest plant in the garden! It grows huge branches - so big that the birds of the air can come and hunker down and nest in its shade." Jesus continued to speak his message through stories and illustrations as long as they could understand what he was really getting at. Jesus never spoke without using stories and illustrations. When he was alone with his students, though, he explained everything, laying it all out on the line for them.

At the end of the day when evening came, Jesus was ready to move on. "Let's go across the lake to the other side," he said. They left the crowd and took Jesus just as he was in a small fishing boat. Meanwhile, some other boats followed behind them. Suddenly, without warning, a massive windstorm blew in. Giant swells of water began hurling themselves into the small boat. Before they knew it, the boat was filled with water and started to sink. The whole time, Jesus was fast asleep on a cushion near the back of the boat. "Teacher! Wake up!" the students shouted. "We’re dying here! Do you even care in the slightest?" Jesus woke up and scolded the wind and the sea. "Shut up! Put a muzzle on it!" Suddenly, the wind stopped and the surface of the water became perfectly still, as if it were glass. "Why are you still such cowards? How can you still be afraid?" he asked his students. "Are you still at a point where you can't trust me?" His students had never been more terrified in their entire lives. "Who is this?" they asked each other. "What, exactly, are we dealing with here? Even the wind and the sea obey him like slaves!"

Later that night, they arrived at the other side of the lake and entered into the land known as the Garadenes. As soon as they stepped out of the boat, a man possessed by a filthy spirit was waiting for them in the dark and welcomed Jesus. The man lived in the limestone caves near the shore used to hold the dead. Most of the time, the people were able to hold him captive using shackles and chains, but now he was out of control. He tore apart the iron chains with his bare hands and shattered his shackles. No one was able to match his strength to tame him. The man never slept. Night after night and day after day he would roam through the burial caves and the nearby mountains, shrieking terrible noises that no one could understand. He would beat against himself with sharp rocks, cutting and bruising and gashing his body. When the man saw Jesus coming out of the boat far off in the distance, he ran as fast as he could and fell down before his feet. "What do you want from me, Jesus, Son of God? Son of the Supreme Being?" he screamed, shrieking terrible noises. "For God's sake, please don't torture me!" "You filthy spirit!" Jesus shouted back. "Come out of that man now!" "What is your name?" Jesus demanded. "My name is Swarm," the spirit said. "There are many of us in here." At that point, the evil spirits began to grovel, begging Jesus not to send them out of the country. "There is a large herd of pigs that are feeding on the side of a nearby mountain," they said. "Send us into the pigs! Please! Let us enter them!" "Fine,� Jesus said. "You have my permission." With that, the filthy spirits came out of the man and went into the herd of about 2,000 pigs. When the evil spirits entered into them, the swine stampeded to the edge of the mountain and hurled themselves off a cliff into the lake. They began to choke in the water, unable to breathe. Soon, they were all dead.

The men charged with feeding the pigs fled in terror. They re-told everything that had happened to both the cities and the country. Pretty soon, people were coming from everywhere to see what, exactly, had happened. The next day, Jesus was sitting with the man now back in his right frame of mind. Soon a crowd gathered around them, and the first-hand witnesses retold everything that had happened the night before. They knew that this was the same man who was possessed by Swarm, and the crowd was terrified. “Please,” they begged Jesus, “leave us alone! Get out of our country!” Jesus obeyed their wishes and began to leave. As he was getting into his boat, ready to sail back to Galilee, the man who was possessed approached Jesus. “Please,” he begged, “let me come with you!” “No,” Jesus said. “Go back home to your family. Tell them how much the Lord has done for you. Tell them how much compassion the Lord has shown you.” The man went off into the region of the Decapolis – the Ten Cities – and began to say in public everything that Jesus had done for him. Everyone who heard him was speechless - shocked at how marvelous this news was.

"Tell them how much the Lord has done for you. Tell them how much compassion the Lord has shown you."

Chapter Four: Scattered  

Coffee Table Gospel Chapter Four