The disciples are often given a bad rap when we talk about them today. We might say, “Oh, those disciples…they still don’t get it.” Sometimes it scares me how much I emulate their negative characteristics.
Mark 8 has been so heavy on my heart for the last few weeks; our pastor preached on it in a sermon about hardened hearts. If you grew up in the church, you have likely heard many examples of hardened hearts, beginning in Exodus with Pharaoh and the plagues. During our pastor’s sermon, I remembered writing a paper on the Hebrew meaning and exegesis of “hardened hearts” while in college; however, I was not prepared for where Jesus (or Pastor Mark) was going with this.
In Mark 8, after Jesus had finished listening to the Pharisees’ arguments, he and his disciples got into a boat. And, the disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but somehow there was one loaf left in the boat (sometimes it seems that bread was all people ate in the Bible!). Jesus, as he often does, speaks symbolically and warns his disciples about the “yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Note: “yeast” as talked about in scripture, often refers to evil or symbolizes corruption.) The disciples then talk among themselves and say, “Ohhhh…Jesus is saying this because we forgot the bread.”
Jesus says to them, “Why are you still talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?”
Do you not remember?
He continues, “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” (12).
“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” (7).
Our hearts may not be hardened like Pharaoh’s, but if we do not trust the Lord to provide, this is a form of hardening our hearts. I like to think I am sensitive to God’s voice, but I, admittedly, get tripped up over bread. The anxious, ever-calculating part
of me wants to MAKE sure there will be enough bread.
And in my anxious moments, when I am prone to shut out God’s voice because I’m worrying about bread, I hear, “STOP WORRYING ABOUT BREAD. I’M GOOD AT BREAD.”
Yes, indeed. He is so good at bread.
Sara Ralph is a licensed counselor in Pennsylvania and a graduate of Eastern University and Asbury Theological Seminary. She has been a camper at Camp Meeting and volunteered at various camp events.