April 06, 2020 – Monday
Mark 4:16-17 NIV
16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.
17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
As in Matthew on Monday, March 16, 2020, here again we have Jesus explaining the Parable of the Sower to His disciples. Again, as in Matthew the parable has four examples of seed being sown: 1- seed falling along the path, 2 – seed falling on rocky ground, 3 – seed falling among thorns, and 4 – seed falling on good soil. Our focus today is clearly on the second example, seed falling on rocky ground.
Looking only at the second example by itself here we have the two verses above while in Matthew 13 we had two almost identical verses: 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
The first thing that we should notice is the reference to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. It might be easy to say this is an indication of someone who will not last, someone who will fall away, but we may ourselves be among the many who hear the word and understand it also react with joy. The question is how to tell the two apart as they both may react with joy? The key for us is in the second indication where they have no root and thus they last only a short time. This while the one who hears the word and understands it remains week after week, month after month, year after year.
Like me, I am sure you have personally talked with individuals who after one service in your church, expressed great enthusiasm desired to get involved in one or more Bible studies, wanted to help with various activities. Then they are never seen again. Some last for a few weeks, but as the weeks go by, their enthusiasm visibly wanes until they simply quit showing up. Obviously their belief or faith had no real roots. There is a saying that fits them There are who believe and there are those who believe they believe. Those without roots belong in the second category. Some find out quickly they do not really believe, while for others it takes a few weeks to discover they only believed they believed.
Their enthusiasm may persist until obstacles – real and imagined – come about. Then as soon as there is some trouble or persecution it is over. It may be as simple as a friend or acquaintance saying, “You really believe that stuff?” Or it could be a boss who is not giving out promotions to someone who is passionate about his or her faith. That is not what they bargained for. They wanted something akin to lots of fun and joy and no negatives at all. The negatives, whatever they are, become unacceptable and they turn away from what he or she believed they believed, sometimes as quickly as they took hold of it.
In Jesus’ time it was even worse for such a person for there was real persecution and tribulation suffered by many member of the early church. Pett states, In a society like that of the Jews, where feelings were strong, the introduction of new ideas, especially ideas as revolutionary as those of Jesus would inevitably produce a reaction. The Pharisees were more prominent in that regard because they saw themselves in their own way as ‘defenders of the faith’ but many a household would have reacted against Jesus’ ideas, and many a strict Jewish father would frown on any response to Jesus from his ‘children’, and it is not surprising that we therefore have constant reference to such persecution and tribulation. Some families would kick out followers of Jesus and even hold a mock funeral for them. Not something someone with no roots in the faith would be willing to suffer.
Looking closely in our own hearts we need to ask, Do I believe or do I only believe I believe?
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton