Monday, June 01, 2015

Would Jesus be grieved at our hard hearts?

Christ healing the withered hand by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 2:18-3:6

"And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other." Mark 3:5

In our reading today we see a rare thing—Jesus angry. What angers Him? it's the attitude of the Pharisees. They object to Him healing the withered hand of a fellow worshipper because it's against their rules of what's allowed on the Sabbath. Mark describes the source of Jesus' anger as "being grieved by the hardness of their hearts"  - Mark 2:5.

["Hard/hardness  is porosis— hardening, callousness. It's a medical term used to describe the process by which fractured bones are set by an ossifying or calloused petrifying. Sometimes it describes a hard substance in the eye that blinds. Used metaphorically porosis denotes a dulled spiritual perceptivity, spiritual blindness and hardness" - Dick Mills, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 1568.]

We find lots of hard hearts in the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments.

1. People's hearts are hard towards believing in God even after seeing supernatural evidences of Him.
  • Pharaoh's heart is described as "hard" during the plagues. Repeatedly when a plague ends, he reneges on his promise to let the people go - Exodus 8:15; 9:34.
  • Even the Israelites have hard hearts despite seeing signs and experiencing wonders during the exodus and the years they spend in the wilderness - Psalm 78:32.

2. Hard-heartedness toward God continues throughout Israel's OT history
- Jeremiah 5:3; Zechariah 7:8-14.

3. It is often a top-down attitude, beginning with the king.
  • Judah's King Zedekiah is only 21 when he takes the throne and his 11-year reign is summed up: "…he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turing to the LORD God of Israel" - 2 Chronicles 36:13.
  • It causes King Jehoiakim to systematically burn the scroll Jeremiah has just dictated to Baruch the scribe - Jeremiah 36:24.

4. Some hard heart causes and characteristics:

  • It is caused by pride (Daniel 5:20) and the the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).
  • It results in a lack of compassion (Mark 3:2-6—our reading), spiritual dullness (Mark 8:17), doubt and unbelief (Mark 16:14), broken relationships (Mark 19:8), and a withdrawal of God's presence (through His people and the Holy Spirit - Acts 19:9).  

5. It is remedied by repentance and confession
- Nehemiah 9:17.

6. If persisted in, its end consequence is judgement - Romans 2:5.

I would have loved to be a synagogue spider watching this interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees. But then the thought occurs, what if He came to my church—to yours? Is there a chance He would be grieved and angered by what He sees there of our attitude toward the withered hand types—the homeless, the mentally ill, the poor, the sexually broken, the addicts?

Dear Jesus, please help me to see my heart as You see it, and to recognize any hard-heartedness. I need You to replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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