Tag Archives: Parables of Jesus

A sower went out to sow…

One of the best known parables of Jesus is the parable of the sower and the soils. Note the account recorded in Mark.

 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:1-9 ESV)

Jesus used this simple, easily understood illustration to teach about the word of God and the hearts of men. Read the full account in Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:5-15.

A few years ago I was traveling in the vicinity of Hebron in late August and saw these fields that had been plowed and readied for planting. I assume the crop would be barley or wheat. I was standing on the road. You can see the rocks (be sure the soil is rocky), the weeds (if not thorns), and the good ground. In the time of Jesus seed would be broadcast, scattered by hand. Seed would fall on all the areas, but only that which fell on good ground would bring forth an acceptable crop. Many of the fields in the central mountain range north of Bethlehem are much smaller, but each field has the four elements of good soil, rocks, thorns, and road. How would you describe your heart?

A field showing good soil, rocks, and weeds. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A field showing good soil, rocks, and weeds. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For photos of the area where Jesus likely taught this and other parables, see this post on The Cove of the Sower here.

Cove of the Sower – from land, sea, and air

Over the past few years I have tried to get some good photos of the Cove of the Sower (also called the Cove of the Parables) and have written about it twice before. Some have suggested that this place on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee would have been the place where Jesus spoke in parables to large numbers who assembled to hear Him.

Read the full account given by Mark in 4:1-20. Here is the way it begins:

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. (Mark 4:1-3 ESV)

Parallel accounts may be read in Matthew 13:1-15 and Luke 8:4-10.

B. Cobbey Crisler conducted some experiments at places where the Bible records that large crowds gathered. The attempt was to see if the large number were able to hear a speaker without the aid of modern sound equipment. The places were Kadesh-barnea, Shiloh,  and The Cove of the Sower in Galilee (“The Accoustics and Crowd Capacity of Natural Theaters in Palestine.” Biblical Archaeologist, 1976. Vol. 39. Num. 4).

The study indicated that the Cove of the Sower would allow between 5000 and 7000 people to hear.

Over the years different crops have been planted in the area, and this makes it difficult to compare older and more recent photos. The highway runs just above the level of the top of the trees seen on the right (north). This photo is made looking west.

The Cove of Sower from top of area. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cove of Sower from top of area. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo below was made from a boat a short distance south of the shore. You can see the extension of the natural theater stretching up the hill above the trees. Hidden in the clump of trees on the top of the hill, and to the left is the traditional Mount of Beatitudes. This would be a good candidate for the place of the Sermon on the Mount.

Cove of the Sower From the Sea of Galilee by Ferrell Jenkins.

The following sketch from Crisler’s article in Biblical Archaeologist may help you to understand more clearly about the cove.

Cove of Sower sketch from Crisler's article in BA.

The terrain and the crops have changed since Crisler wrote. For those who may be curious, the covered areas are where bananas grow today. Both bananas and citrus trees have been brought to the country since the time of Jesus.

More recently I have been able to make a few aerial photos of the area. The first one was made from above the modern paved road looking down on the cove.

The Cove of the Sower from the air, looking south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cove of the Sower from the air, looking south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next aerial view shows the cove and the hill above it from the south.

Aerial View of the Cove of the Sower looking north. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial View of the Cove of the Sower looking north. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I trust that this information and these photos will enhance your understanding of the portions of Scripture mentioned above.

Roman period wine presses at Eretz Israel Museum

The Eretz Israel Museum, located on the campus of Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, is a wonderful, educational museum to visit. Many of the exhibits are outside, including an archaeological tel (Tel Qasile), and others are in several different small buildings.

In the photo below we see two Roman period wine presses. (Common English versions use the spelling winepress.) The treading floors are on the left and the collecting vats are on the right.

Roman winepresses at Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman wine presses at Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The sign below provides needed explanation for those who have not seen a wine press from the Roman period.

Explanation of Roman winepresses at Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Explanation of the Roman wine presses at Eretz Israel Museum. Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

One of the parables of Jesus illustrates how common such wine presses were in Biblical times.

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. (Matthew 21:33 ESV)

See a photo of the Byzantine wine press at Avdat here. The Museum website may be visited here.

One sows and another reaps

Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to teach the woman of Samaria at the well where they met (John 4). She went into the city and told the men about Jesus (John 4:28-29). When the disciples of Jesus returned from the city where they had gone to buy food they encouraged Jesus to eat. He said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples misunderstood this, thinking He had reference to material food. This conversation led Jesus to say,

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:35-38 ESV)

The disciples apparently did not know that Jesus had been teaching the woman, and that she had gone into the city to tell others about Him. Jesus is reminding the disciples of a common thing in the agricultural practices of that time. One sows and another reaps. It may have been sowing time, but some were ready to be reaped. The fields were ready to be harvested.

The words of the prophet Amos provide insight into this episode. He said,

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills will be dissolved. (Amos 9:13 ESV)

In modern times, with the use of some mechanical farm equipment, it is becoming difficult to find scenes exactly like the practices of the time of Jesus. But we still see things that remind us of these teachings. The photo below shows a field in Jordan just above the Jordan valley floor near Deir Allah. On a clear day one could see the valley.

The field has been plowed while grain grows nearby. Photo by F. Jenkins.

The field has been plowed while grain grows nearby. Photo by F. Jenkins.

Notice the rocks in the field. The plowman has worked around them. In the days of broadcast sowing, like in the parable of the sower (Luke 8), this scene has all of the elements. Good soil, rocky soil, road, and certainly thorns.

Extend our view to the left in the photo above. You will see, in the photo below, sheaves in the field that has been plowed. Indeed, the plowman overtakes the reaper.

Harvested grain in a field already plowed for sowing. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Harvested grain in a field already plowed for sowing. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is true today in the preaching of the gospel. One plows and another reaps. Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

If we had more sowing, there would be more reaping.

A meditation for Sunday

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Illustrating a parable at Neot Kedumim in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Illustrating a parable at Neot Kedumim in Israel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Sower Went Out to Sow…

One of the best known parables of Jesus is the parable of the sower and the soils. Note the account recorded in Luke.

“The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. “Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Luke 8:5-8 NASB)

Jesus used this simple, easily understood illustration to teach about the word of God and the hearts of men. Read the full account in Luke 8:5-15, Matthew 13:3-23, and Mark 4:1-20.

A few weeks ago I was traveling in the vicinity of Hebron and saw these fields that had been plowed and readied for planting. I would assume the crop would be barley or wheat. I was standing on the road. You can see the rocks (be sure the soil is rocky), the weeds (if not thorns), and the good ground. In the time of Jesus seed would be broadcast, scattered by hand. Seed would fall on all the areas, but only that which fell on good ground would bring forth an acceptable crop. Many of the fields in the central mountain range north of Bethlehem are much smaller, but each field has the four elements of good soil, rocks, thorns, and road. How would you describe your heart?

A field showing good soil, rocks, and weeds. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A field showing good soil, rocks, and weeds. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.