I’ve been thinking more about this this morning…
First off, thank you for bringing in the Greek! Skandalizontai – gives a deeper meaning for me for the English word “scandal”. But I digress…
My Bible fell open this morning (providentially??) to Matthew’s version of this teaching event (Mt. 13:1-17), which is nearly verbatim of the Mark account. Last night, I did not read the entire passage/parable…only Jesus’ interpretation starting in Mk 4:14, and I was focusing more on the root. This morning, however, as I read the parable itself, the soil image jumped out at me. (I’m remembering now how this is can be alternatively referred to as the 'Parable of the Soils".)
5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. [NIV]
So while the issue is shallow root, the deeper issue (quite literally) is rocky soil that does not facilitate a deep, hearty, resilient rootedness. Because the seed cannot go deep, it shoots up above ground immediately. It gives a good show without the wait.
Jesus goes on to describe this shallow-rooted plant as being scorched by the trials and sufferings of life. And following this scorching, there is a withering. But though withering will most likely lead to death, it doesn’t have to if it is tended to.
If we’re running with the garden metaphor, then Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances cleared away the rocks in their respective heart-soils so that The Seed could take deeper root. Then Pentecost could be seen as a massive shot of Miracle-Gro, allowing for fruitfulness.
Interestingly, this is calling to mind the Diocletian Persecution of the Christian church in the Roman empire in the early 4th c. AD. When the persecutions ended with Constantine, there was a huge discussion about what “stumbling” or “falling away” meant and whether those who compromised to escape persecution (i.e. traditores…traitors) were to be disqualified from leadership. Pretty sure this is what the Donatist controversy was about? But I need to find unpack my church history books to make sure!