The last line in the Gospel of Mark’s story of the feeding of the 5000 caught my eye this morning. The last line wrapped up the scene where Jesus walked on the water to save the Apostles, in fear for their lives, in their boat battling the raging storm. Mark 6:52 says, “They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.” This is one of those verses that I do not remember ever reading before for some reason.
This verse has two revelations that astounded me: First, the Apostles, Jesus’ inner circle, did not comprehend what had just happened. Perhaps they were so busy doing crowd control and other things, that they totally missed the miracle at hand. Possibly, by this time, miracles Jesus performed were perceived as ordinary – seemed to happen every day. Whatever the reason, this passage indicates that the Apostles totally missed the miracle and were caught up in the tasks of the moment failing to comprehend the greatness, the majesty of what they just saw and were just part of.
Secondly, their hearts were hardened. Possibly they were miffed that Jesus put them to work. Jesus turned them into common food servers. Then they had to do cleanup – go around and collect all the fragments left by this multitude of people. No wonder Jesus had to send them out into the storm. It appeared that His disciples needed a little attitude adjustment.
The next step found me in prayer contemplating this verse and trying to figure out what this passage meant. It was a shock to me. After all the wonder that the Apostles had just encountered, not only did Jesus’ closest disciples miss the whole thing, but their hearts were hardened – egos tweaked. As I contemplated this, I started to pray, “Jesus please do not let my heart become hardened like your disciples here in this story.” My next thought was, “What are you doing? My heart is already hardened. This prayer is the Pharisee’s prayer in the Temple.” My next prayer was much better. “Lord please soften my hardened heart.” That is much closer to the poor tax collector’s prayer in that same story.
How do you pray? Is your heart in need of a little softening? We have so much wonder and miracles that God has surrounded us with every minute of every day. If you are like me and go through long droughts, blind to the greatness in this world, we need to pray the second, the Tax Collector’s prayer. Lord please be merciful to me a sinner. Soften my hardened heart so I can glorify you and celebrate the great love You have and continue to share with me. Amen.
 Luke 18:9-14