THE STONY GROUND HEARERS
"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 . . . He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he which hears the Word, and anon with joy receives it; yet has he not root in himself, but endures for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, by and by he is offended" (Mat_13:5-6, Mat_13:20-21).
The type of ground that is here referred to, is that where the bed is of rock, with only a thin layer of earth over it. In this shallow soil the seed is received, but the growth is but superficial. Our Lords interpretation at once identifies the particular class of hearers which are here in view. At first they promise well, but later prove very disappointing. What we have here is lack of depth. The emotions have been moved, but the conscience has not been searched; there is a natural "joy" but no deep conviction or true repentance. When a Divine work of grace is wrought in a soul, the first effects of the Word upon it are not to produce peace and joy, but contrition, humility and sorrow.
The sad thing is, that today almost everything connected with modern evangelistic effort is calculated to produce just this very type of hearer. The "bright singing," the sentimentality of the hymns, the preachers appeals to the emotions, the demand of the churches for visible and quick "results," produce nothing but superficial returns. Sinners are urged to make a prompt "decision," are rushed to the "penitent form," (or altar) and then assured that all is well with them; and the poor deluded soul leaves with a false and evanescent "joy." And the deplorable thing is that many of the Lords own people are supporting and fellow-shipping this Christ-dishonoring and soul-deceiving burlesque of true Gospel ministry.
"But endures for awhile." "This is the flesh at its fairest; capable of coming so near to the kingdom of God, and all the more manifesting its hopeless nature. There is the unbroken rock behind that never yields to the Word, and gives it no lodgment; and the class of hearers pictured here are born of the flesh only. Let things be outwardly favorable to profession, it is plain that the number of these may multiply largely, and may stick like dead leaves to a tree that has had no rough blast to shake them off. But life is none the more in them" (The Numerical Bible).