Jdg 3-4; Mark 6:30-end; Psalm 148-150
‘for their hearts were hardened . . .’
I often feel a chill when I read these words. Of course we are so used to hearing them in the context of the enemies of God – Pharaoh a clear example. And how when the hearts remain hard, God then hardens the heart further, that his glory might be revealed. Again Pharaoh is a prime example and Paul uses similar imagery in Romans 1.
But here the words are doubly chilling, for it is the disciples whose hearts are hard. Mark’s account is unremittingly hard on the disciples from beginning to end. They do not understand parables – presumably because of their hardness of heart? – and now we are told that their hearts were hardened evidenced in their did not understanding about the loaves. They saw Jesus walking on the water, but they hadn’t got the point about the loaves. It was as if they hadn’t seen the LORD providing Manna for his people. They, like the people of Nazareth, did not recognise the Saviour standing amongst them. But of course it is precisely in God’s saving acts that this hardness is evidenced – be it Pharaoh’s or the disciples. The close presence of God seems almost to do this as if by default.
I think we need to be careful here not to assume we do not fall into the same category. I mean, if the disciples Saw Jesus and did not believe, why do we assume that we do? Might it be that all out carefully built walls of ‘doctrine’ and ‘truth’ – our easy proclamation ‘thus saith the LORD’, is in fact nothing but our own hardness. Our towers of certitude just the projection of our own rebellion against God. For indeed He only dies for his enemies.
In every way that we make lives for ourselves at whatever level, we fail to understand about the loaves