They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:51-52
The disciples didn’t always understand God’s ways, some days neither do we. Yet Jesus didn’t give up on them, nor does he give up on us. The explanation for their lack of understanding was that their hearts were hardened. How did their hearts become hard?
The disciples had seen Jesus doing miraculous things—healing the sick, feeding the five thousand, calming a storm and now he walks on water. The disciples were familiar with the prophesies concerning the Messiah and, as Jesus told John, he was doing those things which were consistent with being the Messiah, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:5).
There was some expectation that the Messiah would feed his people like Moses had, but it wasn’t prophesied that the Messiah would multiply food, calm a storm or walk on water. The disciples hadn’t understood Jesus’ complete power over nature.
Yet Jesus expected them to have learnt from his teaching and his miracles. He expected them to apply the truth they had seen and heard, and to grow in their understanding of the Messiah. But often the disciples were stuck in their preconceived ideas and often we are too. If we haven’t seen Jesus do miracles in our lives, we may not expect him to do miracles for others. Nevertheless, as the day of his second coming approaches, it’s foretold that we will see more of the miraculous.
The disciples didn’t have heartened hearts forever. God was able to soften their hearts and he will soften ours too, as we learn from his teaching.