March 16, 2020 – Monday
Matthew 13:18-23 NIV
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:
19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
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.
22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Above we have Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower He provided in the first seventeen verses. 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 on the second example, seed falling on rocky ground, thus it is underlined and italicized.
First of all, let us look at this example by itself. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 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 jumped out is the reference to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. It would be easy to say this is an indication of someone who will not last, someone who will fall away, but many who hear the word and understand it also react with joy. So how do we tell the two apart if they both react with joy? The key is in the second indication, because they have no root, they last only a short time while the one who hears the word and understands it remains week after week, month after month, year after year.
I have personally talked with individuals, after one service in our church, who expressed incredible enthusiasm wanting to get involved in Bible studies, help with various activities and we never see them again. Some last for a number of weeks, but as the weeks go by, their enthusiasm visibly wanes until they simply quit coming. In both cases their belief or faith had no real roots. There is a saying that fits both examples 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.
The enthusiasm persists until obstacles – real and imagined – come about. Then as soon as there is trouble or persecution of any sort 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. Nope, this 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 the individual turns away from what he or she believed they believed, sometimes as quickly as they had took hold of it.
In Jesus’ time it would have been 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 hold a mock funeral for them. Not something someone with no roots in the faith would be willing to suffer.
We need to look closely in our own hearts and ask, Do I believe or do I only believe I believe?
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton