Hard Hearts and Miracles
In Mark 6:36-52, we find a passage that tells two stories—the first is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. The disciples bring the issue of the hungry people to Jesus, suggesting Jesus send them away for food to the surrounding towns. But instead of responding in agreement as the disciples expected, Jesus instructed the disciples to “give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37, NIV). The disciples were obviously shocked at this statement and responded accordingly, asking Jesus if they were expected to go and purchase food for all the people there.
Jesus never expected them to go purchase food for all the people. Rather He was testing their faith and their response to the question. This revealed their lack of sensitivity to the Spirit of the One they were following. Jesus put the disciples to work. He said to His followers to “go and see” (Mark 6:38, NIV). Jesus required some movement and effort on their part before He did His miracle that day.
After He fed the five thousand, the disciples cleaned up the remaining food. Then Jesus immediately put them on a boat to go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida. The second part of the passage is just an extension of the same story, and it tells what happened later that night. The disciples were out on a boat in a rough storm and Jesus was praying on a mountainside. Here we see that Jesus sees their struggle and goes out to them, walking on the water, but they did not recognize Him. The Bible says “He was about to pass them by” after an earlier verse that tells us He was going out to them. Their lack of awareness to His presence was enough to cause Him to pass them by.
They cried out in fear, afraid of the very One who could change their circumstances; who had provided their needs; the One they left their families and securities for. Something in their fear-filled cry caught Jesus and He calmed them and their storm. Even as He sat there in their boat, the disciples were confused. Mark 6:51-52 (NIV) reads, “They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” This verse caught me. Does the lack of understanding bring hardness of the heart? Is it possible we can we be so close to the power of God and so comfortable with the life-changing message that our hearts become hardened to His truth and His presence?
With the five thousand, Jesus called His disciples to action and used them even through their disbelief, but one can’t help but wonder what could have come from the heart of a disciple who knew their Master enough to expect greatness. Although he walked toward them on the water to turn their situation around, they still weren’t sensitive enough to recognize Him.
We experience His presence in our churches, we lift our hands in our worship sets, but do we truly know the presence of the Lord? Could we feel His prompting in the grocery store or His nudge in the middle of the night? Would we hear Him when we pass the fellow Christian in serious need of prayer or heed God’s call when we’re asked to give a little more in the offering? Have we allowed our hearts to become hardened from lack of understanding of His ways or calloused to His presence? I pray I would never become so comfortable in the presence of the Lord that I would miss a chance to be a part of His kingdom.
What we have is precious and must handled with reverence and awe. I pray that a sense of awe would come upon this generation, an understanding that the God we serve is greater than any circumstance and deserves my whole life and all my trust.
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Jason Huckaby is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.