“Again, Jesus began to teach by the lake. . . . He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said, “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. . . . Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. . . . Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive 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.” (Mark 4:1a, 2, 5-6, 16-17)
We’ve been listening to Jesus tell His story about a farmer who sows his seed. The farmer is God and the seed is the Word.
This week we hear about the seed sown in rocky places. This seed does better than the seed sown along the path. That seed is snatched away by the birds before it has a chance to sprout. This seed actually sprouts and grows, but eventually withers in the hot sun because it has no roots.
There are some people who receive God’s Word gladly. Perhaps who were raised in the church, or perhaps came to faith later in life. In the beginning, everything was easy. Their friends and family were supportive, they enjoyed coming to church, and life was good. They had joy.
But that doesn’t usually last. Jesus tells us that life as a Christian will be a struggle. Just as He was persecuted, so you will be persecuted. It won’t always be fun to be a Christian. Notice what Jesus says here. He’s not talking about general “hard times” that every goes through. Jesus refers to “trouble or persecution [that] comes because of the word.” When this comes, many will fall away.
The hot sun beats down on all the plants. They all experience the same persecution, the same troubles that come from believing God’s Word. Some wither while others don’t. Why is this?
Some of the plants have deep roots, the kind of roots that can reach to find moisture even deep underground. These plants can survive heat and drought. Other plants have shallow roots. When all the moisture near the surface of the ground is dried up, the plants dry up, too.
If you are going to survive the heat of trouble and persecution, you will need deep roots, a deep faith that trusts that God is with you even when it’s painful, even when it’s hard to be a Christian. You will need roots that tap into the resources that Jesus gives you to sustain you in difficult times. If you try to survive on your own, you will wither and dry up. If your roots reach deep into Jesus Christ, He will sustain you no matter how difficult things get.
Loving Father, you sow your seed far and wide. Keep Satan from taking the word from us, that under your care it may grow and flourish among us. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.