I used to be a card carrying member of the “Hard Hearted Club”! Yep, I believed that all the homeless and the poor were homeless and poor because they were lazy! And of course, all people with tattoos are thugs, and all teens are spoiled and don’t know how to tell the truth. Oh, and there is no real reason to share what Jesus is doing in my life because I have “my” ticket to heaven…they need to get their own! And frankly, if people around me didn’t believe what I believed, to heck with them!
Mark 8:15-21 (TNIV)
15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” 16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. 20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
When Jesus tells the disciples to, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod”, what He is saying is that they, the disciples, needed to careful that the evil in the hearts of these men might spread into their very own hearts. Remember that just recently (Mark 8:11-12) the Pharisees had tested Jesus just as Satan tested Jesus. They didn’t yet see who Jesus truly was.
And here, the disciples still aren’t getting it…… and they think that Jesus is talking about them not bringing any bread. No, what Jesus is talking to them about is to be careful that their hearts don’t become hardened like the Pharisees. He doesn’t want them to become self-righteous, maintaining a religiousness void of inner strength and spiritual insight…..with an emphasis, in my mind, on spiritual insight!
Is there a Hard Hearted Club near you? Is there a chapter in your church? Just think of all the money that is saved by not having to feed the poor, not needing a youth program, not needing those special ministries that reach out to the hurting in the community. Oh, how great it is to be around people just like us!
Here’s the Hard Hearted Pledge, it’s the only thing you need to join, “I refuse to listen to Jesus, I refuse to be open to His truth. And most of all….I refuse to allow Jesus to change my heart!”
When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees earlier in Mark 8:11-12, they indeed refused to listen to Jesus, they refused His truth and most of all…….they refused to allow His wisdom and Spirit to change their heart! They continued in their self-righteous ways, their pride in their religious knowledge and their pride in their spiritual loftiness.
The truth is, God’s people, followers of Jesus must be people that want healing in other people’s lives. Our churches and communities must be places of healing. We must always be in God’s classroom and open to growth in our hearts. 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”
We must always be gracious; we must always see people as individuals. We must always remember that there was a time that we had not yet had a full understanding of Jesus and His ways. The truth is, there are sincere followers of Christ who don’t always think through all the issues and focus on legalism rather than God’s heart. I like what Jesus said in John 10:16…..
John 10:16 (TNIV, Jesus speaking)
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
So, for us….we need to throw away our “Hard Heart” card and seek Jesus in every moment of our lives…..we can join Jesus….and be a part of the healing and restoration in our families, our communities and our country.
Don’t have eyes that fail to see and ears that fail to hear…..as you study the Gospel message….don’t forget that Jesus heals, don’t forget that with God, all things are possible. Don’t forget His compassion, His forgiveness, His wisdom, and His love.
Simply remember His compassion for the needy, and remember His mercy on us. We must simply avoid materialism and hypocrisy….we must seek Jesus and simply just be real. Remember that Jesus came to save the lost. Let Him use us in that capacity by having a heart of compassion and empathy. You know, if we do that……we let God, indeed, Jesus and indeed the Holy Spirit do their part in healing and restoring this world, and what a great honor to be a part of it.