What does Matthew 13:2 mean?
ESV: And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
NIV: Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.
NASB: And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
CSB: Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.
NLT: A large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore.
KJV: And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Jesus has left behind the overcrowded house He was teaching in at the end of the previous chapter. He has moved outside and sat down on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 13:1). The crowd that has gathered around to hear Him teach has grown so large it will be difficult for many of the people to hear what He is saying.
To solve this, Jesus gets into a boat that is pushed a bit back from the shore. The crowd remains on the beach, allowing more of them to see and hear Him. Tradition says this took place on the Sea of Galilee at a place now called the "Cove of the Parables." It provides a kind of natural, curved amphitheater which would have allowed Jesus' voice to carry a great distance.
Once in the boat, Jesus again sits down, assuming the customary position of a rabbi when teaching.
Matthew 13:1–9 turns the focus back to Jesus' spiritual teachings, with the parable of the sower. As Jesus sits in a boat just offshore, He tells the crowd about a seed-thrower whose seed fell on a path, on rocky soil, among thorns, and on good soil. Only the seed on the good soil is productive. Jesus later explains the meaning of the parable to His disciples (Matthew 13:18–23), but He does not fully explain it for the crowds.
Matthew 13 focuses mainly on a series of parables. Jesus first describes these to a large crowd along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Later, in a house, He explains to the disciples the meanings of the parables of the sower, the weeds, and the fish caught in the net. Jesus then travels to Nazareth, teaches in the synagogue, and is rejected by the people of His original hometown.
Matthew 13 follows Jesus from the overcrowded house at the end of the previous chapter to a crowded beach on the Sea of Galilee. He teaches a large crowd in a series of parables, which He doesn't fully explain. However, He reveals their meaning to His disciples inside a nearby house. Jesus pictures the kingdom of heaven as a sower, a sabotaged field of wheat, a mustard seed, and a pearl dealer, among other things. He then travels to His original hometown of Nazareth where He is rejected by the people He grew up with. This leads Matthew back to depictions of Jesus' miracles, after sadly recording John the Baptist's death.
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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