…For they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
When I was younger I had a friend on fire for God. Well, she still is. She is an amazing person and does amazing things for God. But when we were in high school she teamed with her church to buy bibles to pass out at our school. She asked for my help to pass them out and although I was terrified, I helped. I like to say it was because it was high school and kids can be ruthless. Let’s face it though, my heart still does a little extra beating when I am put in situations of answering questions about the great God I serve. I get so nervous I will say something wrong or they will get mad about what I have to say.
Well we got the approval from the Principle of the school to hand them out during lunch and so we gathered them all together and got to work. Most of the kids were respectful and took the bibles or just said no thank you. However, there was that one kid… the kid who I think of when I read verses about hardened hearts. He instantly got angry by the simple offer of a bible about God. His chest puffed up and so did my friend’s she did not like that somebody did not like God. She was ready to throw it down with this kid over his reaction to what we were doing. With every insult he had, she had an answer in return. It wasn’t bad answers but spoke of God and his need for Him. As I watched her, it was evident that his heart had indeed been hardened. It is a crazy thing to see people that get so angry with the mere mention of Jesus Christ’s name. People don’t believe in the Easter Bunny but nobody gets so angry about this name being spoken. You don’t see people with signs screaming there is no Easter Bunny.
Anyway, back on track. The type of person that we think of when we read verses about hearts be hardened are the people that get angry when you talk about Jesus. We think of the people who screamed ‘Crucify! Crucify!’ when Jesus was on trial. However, when we back up from Mark 6:52 and see who we are talking about it shows us something so incredibly important.
Mark 6:30-44 tells us of Jesus feeding five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish. Now either those were some huge loaves of bread and massive fish or Jesus just performed a great miracle. I’m going to go with Jesus just performed a mighty big miracle. I don’t think people were quite into the bigger is better ideal as much as today. So the disciples just witnessed this amazing miracle and then we go into Mark 6:45-52…
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. 47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Wow… the very people Jesus himself called to be his chosen apostles had hardened hearts. They walked with Jesus, watched Him heal the sick, feed thousands with very little, watch demons shake in their boots at His mere presence and they had hardened hearts?!
Lysa TerKeurst writes in Chapter 13 of her book Uninvited:
We can go to Bible study and amen every point made, but if we don’t apply it to our lives, we won’t be changed. And I’ll even take it a step further and say that if we’ve been exposed to a teaching that we know we need to implement and we don’t make any changes, that’s a clue that the hardening of that part of our heart is in process.
It’s not just the glaringly obvious who have a hardened heart. When you look at sin and how it happens it is usually baby steps. It starts with something innocent like your boyfriend sleeping over on the couch when you both stayed out too late. Small gradual steps move what was innocent to into you sleeping together. The more this sin happens the easier it is to do it again and then to take steps further into it. At first you can feel that small little ping of guilt and after about the 5th time you don’t feel that anymore. That is your heart being hardened.
Matthew 13:15 tells us:
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
In this verse Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Parable of Sower. They ask Jesus why he speaks in parables to the people who come to hear His word. The people that came to hear were there just to hear. They were not there to apply. They wanted to come and get their church on and then leave and do as they wished. They would save the real application for when they were too old to have any more fun this world had to offer.
In James 4:17 we are told:
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
The context of this verse tells us that we do not know if we have tomorrow. Pushing things off to another day just brings more time for that part of our hearts to be hardened. Sometimes it seems as though living for Christ can be somewhat like going on a new diet is like. I’m going to start eating healthy and exercising on Monday. Be honest, how many of you have said that one?
So many do this exact same thing with living for Christ. After I get through this, I will go on that mission trip. After I attain this level at work, I will let people know about my faith in Jesus. There is always something that makes us push living for God off a little more. The more we push it off the harder our hearts become to it. The more it becomes sin. It is something we knew we were supposed to do but we justified not doing it by saying we will do it tomorrow.
We aren’t promised tomorrow. We aren’t promised one more second. Instead of saying tomorrow, we need to be saying today. Instead of saying next week I will start getting more involved in the multiple ministries at church or elsewhere, we need to be saying today. At any moment you could die. What would you say to God right now if you were to be standing at His feet, hands full of promises for tomorrow? Don’t let your heart continue to be hardened to His whisper. Start today by breaking up the callouses. You don’t need to wait until you’re good enough. Guess what, that day will never come if you keep saying tomorrow. Stop saying tomorrow and start saying today!