Introduction: Here we see a group of disciples whose hearts have become hardened. They had grown spiritually insensitive to the miracles of Christ. They had just observed and participated in perhaps the most spectacular of all of Christ's miracles. Thousands of people were fed with only five loaves of bread and two small fish.
Afterwards, Jesus tells them to get into a ship and sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus goes off to a secluded area for prayer, and later joins them in the midst of a storm. He stills the sea, and takes them safely to the other shore.
This is perhaps the most miserable condition that a Christian can ever be in. Spiritually insensitive to the work of God. Please note: These men had not turned their backs on Christ or His service. They were very much involved, and yet their hearts had become hardened.
I. The Evidence of Hardened Hearts.
A. Panic in times of trouble.
1. These men were not novices when it came to travelling across the sea.
2. They were unfamiliar with the Sea of Galilee and its frequent and violent storms.
3. In chapter four we have the account of Jesus stilling another storm and rebuking His disciples for their lack of faith.
4. However, they were not living by faith, they could not claim God's promises.
5. When we allow our hearts to become hardened toward the things of God, we also will begin to panic in the midst of trials!
B. Frustration and failure.
1. They had entered the ship before evening had begun.
2. By the time evening had come, they were in the midst of the sea.
3. They were unable to fulfill the command of Christ.
4. We cannot obey God if our hearts are hardened toward Him.
5. We render ourselves ineffective in His service if we depend upon the flesh, rather than being led by the Spirit of God.
C. Fruitless labor. Note: v48
1. It is now the fourth watch of the day, which is between 3:00am and 6:00am.
2. They had been out there for hours "toiling and rowing", but they weren't getting anywhere.
3. Have you ever felt that way in your service to the Lord?
4. Beating the water to a froth, but not accomplishing anything?
II. Why Our Hearts Grow Hard.
A. Failure to consider the blessings of God.
1. They had grown accustomed to His miracles and had lost their excitement.
2. God admonished His people in De. 6:12, "Beware lest thou forget the Lord which brought thee forth out of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
3. When we forget what God has done for us, it is a sure sign that our hearts have become hardened.
4. I have met some Christians who have forgotten what it was like before they were saved.
5. Others I have met had the attitude that they were doing God a favor by accepting Christ, and that they deserved all of His blessings!
6. If God gave us what we deserveed, we would all burn in Hell for eternity!
B. Failure to give attention to Christ. cf. v48
1. They were so busy in the ship that they just barely noticed Jesus as He started to pass them by.
2. He would have passed them by if they had given Him no attention at all!
3. It is a tragic situation when we, who have been redeemed by His precious blood, can't find time to give attention to Him.
4. Note: Luke 10:38-42
C. We make time for what we love!
1. The rebuke to the church at Ephesus was this:
2. "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." (Re. 2:4)
3. Where is your heart tonight? Mt. 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
4. Col. 3:1, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
III. The Cure for a Hard Heart.
A. We must first recognize that our heart isn't right.
B. Start spending more time in God's Word and in prayer.
C. Meditate on the blessings of God in our lives.
Conclusion: What about our hearts tonight? Our worship and service to God is a natural outgrowth of heart that is right with God. Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."