“And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits …They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. …When it was already late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and it is already very late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:7, 12, 13, 35-37)
On one occasion Jesus literally drew a line in the sand, and made a point that the one who is without sin should cast the first stone. On the occasion set before us, Jesus drew another line, it was not made of sand and drawn by his finger, but it was made by the miracle of creation, and drawn by the infinite difference between God and man.
At a certain point in Jesus’ ministry He sent His disciples out to preach, and endowed them with similar power and authority as Himself, but He needed them to understand from where their new found abilities came. After His disciples returned, having experienced great success in ministry, Jesus taught them a great lesson about the source of His power and the true nature of His being.
When the disciples beheld the multitudes they desired that the Lord would send them away, so that they might find something to eat, but Jesus said to them, “You give them something to eat.” It became immediately clear to them that they could not supply enough food for that vast multitude of people. However, the disciples were not as quick to understand the vast difference between themselves and Christ, because after He created from noting enough food to feed 5,000 men plus women and children, we read the following. “They were completely astonished, because they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:51, 52)
It is pride in ourselves that keeps us from seeing Christ clearly as God the creator in human flesh. Sometimes it is even possible to hold such a belief in our mind but still lack faith in Jesus for all our needs. We envision ourselves as great, important, and sufficient, when we ought to see Him as the giver of life, and the sustainer of all that is good, right, and holy. Jesus’ disciples did not understand about the loaves because their hearts were hardened, and their hearts were hardened because they had been built up with pride over their new found success. The Christian life can be an exercise in defeat if we are not careful. The Christian is one who receives forgiveness, and spiritual discernment to understand all things about life and living. He also is given power to preach the Gospel, and to teach wisdom and understanding, and if he is not careful all of that can lead to great pride and failure.
In what condition is your heart today? Is your heart open to Christ as the source of all that is good in your life? Do you see yourself as a sinner deserving eternal hell apart from the saving grace of God in Christ? Or is your heart hard to the saving graces of Christ?
The disciples saw the Lord Jesus create fish from nothing and at first their hearts were hardened, but eventually they understood from God’s word the person and work of Christ. Their hard hearts were made soft, they submitted to His authority, and bowed in obedience to Him as Lord. Eventually, after Christ’ death and resurrection these things took place in their hearts; He opened their minds to His word, and they accepted the responsibility for His death on the cross, as they realized He died for their sins. So it must be with every Christian.
“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
"Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.” (Hebrews 3:7-9)
The Christian has far more insight than the Israel of Moses day; we have the miracle of the risen Christ. Let us not harden our hearts.