As part of my Lenten practice I am reading through the book of Mark. Interestingly, a description of the disciples caught my attention that I’ve missed in the past.
Mark 6 recounts the journey of Jesus and His disciples. Much occurs in the chapter:
• Jesus’ hometown fails to honor Him.
• The twelve disciples go out two by two with authority over unclean spirits.
• Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, is beheaded by Herod.
• Jesus and His disciples try to get away to a solitary place by themselves, yet encounter a large crowd instead.
• After giving thanks, Jesus broke five loaves of bread and two fish to satiate a countryside filled with 5,000 men, plus many more women and children.
• Jesus sends the disciples across the lake while He returns to the quiet mountainside with the Father.
• A gusty storm develops, rocking the disciples in their boat.
• Jesus miraculously appears to rescue the disciples.
In spite of all Jesus’ marvelous acts, Mark 6:52, reports that His disciples’ hearts were “hardened” or “closed.” “They did not understand the loaves.”
This stuck with me. How could the hearts of the disciples be hard and closed after all they experienced with Jesus? He just provided for the physical needs of thousands, yet the disciples missed it? Hardened hearts? Although the lives of the disciples were surrounded with powerful, fantastic movements of God, they were not receptive. Had they become callused to Jesus and His ways? Had the miraculous become, “Ho, Hum?”
This got me thinking about what “hardness” looks like today? How do we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, end up with closed or hardened hearts? This might display itself with attitudes of entitlement. When Jesus fed the multitudes, did the disciples “feel” entitled to Jesus’ miraculous activity? Or, perhaps they just took for granted the supernatural, having come to expect such behavior from Jesus?
What ways do we take for granted God’s mighty activity today?
Do we read the Bible like reading the NY Times or a textbook, words on a page with interesting information? Or, do we read, knowing the words of the Bible are indeed the breath of God, the only food that satisfies our souls?
Once a month a young teen and I savor an extravagant drink from Starbucks. We talk life and recognize God’s movement both in and around us. Recently she shared that while reading the Bible, she felt God tell her: “Come to me and you will be protected.” She relished these comforting strong words. She beamed while recounting this encounter with God through His Word. Her heart appears open and soft to the ways of Jesus.
How often do we exclaim God’s mighty acts with one another?
Bragging? No! Proclaiming, Yes! God provides work, shelter, food, friendship, redemption, reconciliation, and rest. Let’s talk about it! Praise Him!
Too often we live as though invincible, refusing our limitations, taking for granted the incredible intricacy with which our bodies are created to function.
When was the last time you thanked God for your health? I never thought I treated good health as an entitlement, until it was stripped of me through cancer. God humbled me, reminding me that my life is truly in His hands. My perspective changed. I learned that each day is a gift. As long as I am able, I get to live each one fully for Jesus.
Late the other night while driving, the moon mesmerized me. Like a golden globe, it’s radiance filled the dark, night sky. I couldn’t believe its beauty and grandeur. Simultaneously, “The Revelation Song” played on the radio. God stunned me by declaring to me in that moment His mighty power through creation. His impeccable timing took me by surprise. I thought I was just making an airport run! How often do we glance at God’s handiwork around us and take it for granted? Do we allow creation to draw us into worship of its Creator? The song continued with these words:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You”
Jesus’ disciples were missing the gift before them.
It took the rocking seas, with a “ghost,” defying gravity, walking on the turbulent waters, to shake their hard, closed, callused hearts.
Matthew completes the raging water event by telling us that when the wind died down, those in the boat worshiped Jesus saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (see Matt. 14:32)
Receive from Jesus today. Read your Bible; reflect on what you read and let God transform your heart through His Word. Listen to a sermon, ponder it and live out its application to your life, Thank God for His provision, for meeting your basic needs as well as many of your wants. Praise God for fearfully and wonderfully forming you, giving you another day to breathe and serve Him. Marvel at God’s creativity surrounding you in creation and worship the Creator.
Ask God to soften your closed, hardened, callused heart. Live free of entitlement. Fully embrace the gifts of God before you and let Him fill your cup.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
“Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 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, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” Mark 6:45-52
“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:26-33
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Webb, Chris. Fire of the Word. Downers Grove, IL, 2011
McEntyre, Marilyn Chandler. Christ, My Companion. Grand Rapids, MI, 2008