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Matthew 13:5,6,20,21

Shallow Hearts

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away ...20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 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.


Judah has a great deal of rocky terrain. In some places the rock is covered with a deep layer of soil, thirty feet or more. In other places, the bedrock is just beneath the surface, covered by not much more than a thin layer of dust. The latter cannot be tilled, nor would any amount of fertilizer help it to sustain a fruitful crop.

Jesus used this soil to illustrate the way many people receive the word of God. I am sure that you have encountered them frequently. When they hear the word of God, they receive it with a tremendous amount of joy and enthusiasm. In fact, they are so zealous that they are almost embarrassing. Being new Christians, their knowledge may be very limited, yet they will exuberantly carry on about their faith. Their faith almost seems artificial, but, at the very least, it is certainly very fragile.

When a seed grows in shallow soil, it has no space to sink its roots and it sprouts quickly, concentrating all its growth in the upper plant. The larger the plant gets, however, the more important its roots become as the suppliers of nutrients, water, and support. As the sun rises in the sky, drying up the shallow soil, the young plant's tiny roots cannot find water, and the plant quickly withers and dies.

The persons we are talking about are like these plants. Their faith and joy is all superficial. They are glad to be part of the "Christian Club," to be able to say that their sins are forgiven, to be able to say they are going to have eternal life, and to dream about the rewards of heaven; but nothing inside them has changed. They are not the recipients of God's grace. They have no real knowledge of the Father, no relationship with Him, and no special love for Jesus. While they are among the most exuberant Christians, they have no soil in which to anchor their faith nor do they have roots through which they can feed and strengthen their faith. Jesus said they have no roots in themselves.

The sun in the parable represents tribulation and persecution. Any test of their faith will break them like the sun withers the rootless plant. "Tribulation" is translated from the Greek word, "thlipsis", which means "pressure". Now, this is something for all of us to consider. How much pressure would it take to break your faith?

Early Christians were told to either denounce Christ and worship Caesar as lord or die. Many of them went to their death, because their faith could not be broken. Unbelievers, however, think that everyone has a breaking point and they will often gradually apply pressure to find out where that is. What is your breaking point? Would you deny Christ under threat of death? ...to save the life of your child? ...to stop yourself from being tortured?

True Christians have no breaking point. All of the disciples deserted Jesus at the time of His arrest, but, after they received the power of the Holy Spirit, they each experienced persecution and tribulation and went to their death without being broken.

The people whom Jesus is talking about in these verses have a breaking point, usually one that is not too difficult to find. When their faith is tested they stumble. Their faith is superficial and without root. They do not lose their salvation, but were never saved to begin with.

Before The Throne:

Pray for a strengthening of your faith. Each of us has the responsibility to live by faith. Every small test strengthens us and enables us to endure more severe tests. People who never step out in faith will find that they have no roots. Ask God to show you where you have to extend your faith in order to grow.

For Further Study:

(v.5)
Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:26; Amos 6:12; Zech 7:12;

(v.6) ** when. Isa 49:10; Jas 1:11; Jas 1:12; Rev 7:16; ** because. Matt 7:26-27; Luke 8:13; Eph 3:17; Col 1:23; Col 2:7;

(v.20) ** anon. 1Sam 11:13-15; 2Chr 24:2, 6, 14; Ps 78:34-37; Ps 106:12-13; Isa 58:2; Ezek 33:31-32; Mark 4:16-17; Mark 6:20; John 5:35; Acts 8:13; Gal 4:14-15;

(v.21) ** root. Matt 7:22-23, 26-27; Job 19:28; Prov 12:3, 12; Luke 8:13; John 6:26, 61-65. 70-71; John 15:5-7; Acts 8:21-23; Gal 5:6; Gal 6:15; Eph 3:17; 2Pet 1:8-9; 1John 2:19-20; ** dureth. Matt 10:22; Matt 24:13; Job 27:8-10; Ps 36:3; Hos 6:4; Rom 2:7; Phil 1:6; 1Pe 1:5; ** for. Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:37-39; Matt 16:24-26; Mark 4:17; Mark 8:34-36; Mark 13:12-13; Luke 9:23-25; Luke 14:26-33; Luke 21:12-18; John 12:25-26; Gal 6:12; 2Tim 4:10; Heb 10:35-39; Rev 2:13; ** is. Matt 11:6; Matt 24:9-10; Matt 26:31, 33; 2Tim 1:15;

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