Monday, November 29, 2010

Hardening of the Heart

“Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:51-52)

Jesus fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Immediately after, he sent the disciples to the other side of the lake. He dismissed the crowd and went up to mountain to pray. He finished praying and set out to rejoin His disciples on the other side, but they had made little progress against a stiff wind. He took a “short-cut” across the water and intended to pass by them unnoticed, but they spotted Him and thought He was a ghost. He heard their shrieks of terror, so He identified Himself, walked to the boat, and then got into the boat with them. The wind ceased immediately.

It’s interesting that in Mark’s account, which is essentially Peter’s recounting of the story of Jesus, there is no mention that Peter walked out on the water toward Jesus. Maybe that is less significant to him than his statement that none of them got it: “They had not understood about the loaves. Instead their hearts were hardened.”

What did they not understand about the loaves? Clearly, they understood that they had witnessed a miracle. They knew Jesus did the miracle. What they did not understand was that the miracle was not the point. What they did not understand was Who this One was who performed the miracle. If they had understood, they would have bowed down in worship. But they didn’t. Neither did anyone else. Their hearts were hardened in the sense that they had been raised in an environment and system that focused on the miracle rather than the miracle Maker. This “hardening” is nowhere more apparent than when Jesus chided folks for saying that if they swear by the temple they are not bound, but if they swear by the gold of the temple they are bound to keep their word. His statement then followed, “Which is greater: the gold? Or the temple that makes the gold holy?” The miracles were never an end in themselves. They were merely “signs” pointing to and screaming out “this is the One.” Their hearts were hardened by the understandings they had been raised with. Ironically, they did not understand because of their understandings.

I wonder: Are there understandings about Jesus we are brought up with which may hinder us from understanding what He wants us to understand about Him? The only way we can be sure that we “get it” is to get as deep into His word as we can, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, Help us today and each day to get full and honest attention to Your word. Plunge through any “understandings” we have that are not on track with Your word, and recalibrate our understandings to what You want us to understand. Amen.

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