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Growing up, I spent many hours planting a garden and even planting crops in a field on our farm. In both cases, the planting was to be done intentionally and in a straight line, in the furrow plowed for planting. Scattering the seeds, indiscriminately and widely, was the planting process in the time of Jesus, therefore the seeds landed everywhere! Jesus chooses four kinds of soil upon which the seeds fell to paint a picture of how receptive people are. The first one was ‘beside the road’. In this case, there was no fruit, because there was no shoot of life that came out of the ground, because there was no root established. Today, we examine the second one—the ‘rocky places’.
Jesus says, “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21)
In the case of the seeds sown on the rocky places, the man hears the word and immediately is excited about what he has heard. The problem is that there is a shoot that springs up, but it is only temporary, because there is no root established on the rocky soil. And, of course, no fruit will develop at all.
Note what comes against this person. First, there is affliction. This term means to experience pressure—to be crowded out with troubles. Second, when this affliction comes it is accompanied by persecution that arises because of the word. The term “persecution” has the literal idea of running errands, being in pursuit. In this case, there is the feeling that the person is being pursued, most likely by verbal comments and questions, accusations and attacks. This adds greatly to the pressure the person is feeling and seems to keep on building up against him.
The end result is that this person—this little plant—immediately falls away. The idea of falling away means to be tripped up or trapped. This is an entrapment caused by the overwhelming nature of the affliction and persecution. When you see others who are overcome by this kind of pressure-cooker, be patient with them, showing the love of Jesus.
The only ways to fight this kind of affliction and persecution for yourself is to do all you can do to keep Jesus as your primary focus. As you focus and hang on to Jesus as your best friend, he becomes the dynamic focal point to bring balance to your life—spiritually, emotionally and physically. When Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing”, did he really mean it? If Jesus means this, then why would you not want to include him in any struggle or issue you face? Do you want to help others who are entrapped in the rocky places? Then, begin with yourself admitting the same struggle in your life and demonstrate that if it weren’t for finding balance in Jesus, then you would have no balance at all!