Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. … But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21
And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. … And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.Mark 4:5-6, 16-17
And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. … They on the rock [are they], which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.Luke 8:6, 13
The second type of hearer in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower is described as seed falling on stony places. Physically, this looks like a place near the plowed field that contains many rocks and a little bit of soil. The seed falls in this area and springs up quickly but there is not enough soil to have deep roots. When the hot sun hits the plant, it quickly dies away.
This type of hearer is engaged in worship and may even be vocally agreeing with the preacher with a hearty, “Amen!” He also is further along in his discipleship than the “wayside hearer.” He probably reads his Bible, prays, and is part of the fellowship of his local church. But when trouble comes, he quickly fails under pressure.
The persecution that Jesus mentions is very specific. He says it is “because of the word.” This means there is a conflict between what the word of God instructs us to do and what the world is tempting us to do. This is not necessarily threats of violence or ridicule. It most likely means something far less dramatic but still extremely important. There may be temptation to sin, to skip church, to stop reading the Bible, or other Chrisitan duties.. These temptations can come from friends, family, societal or job pressures, or simply from our own minds.
Regardless of the source or type of persecution, the result is the same. Something stops our growth and development in discipleship. We should recognize that each of us is in danger of being in this category of hearer and take personal responsibility to prevent this or to recover ourselves from this situation.
One key way to guard against this is to view church as more than just a service or meeting. We need to be actively involved in a community of believers so they can help us when we are tempted or tried. If we really enjoy what is being preached, we shouldn’t just say “amen” and then move on. We should talk with the pastor or others about what we enjoyed. This will help us remember more of what we learned.
We should also remember that God never intended church worship to be a form of entertainment or something for our personal pleasure like a concert or a movie. Worship is to glorify God and to learn what He would have us to do! This is not to say that we are forbidden to enjoy worship. We just need to make sure we are enjoying God being glorified and not just feeding our fleshly desires.
Finally, we should prepare ourselves ahead of time to face temptations. If we know there is a regular situation or person that causes problems, we should either avoid the conflict or be prepared to answer it with scripture. We cannot prepare for every scenario that may happen to us, but if we equip ourselves with the whole armor of God and fight faithfully in the smaller battles, we will be better prepared when larger offenses come.