Why Does Jesus Say the Disciples Have Hardened Hearts?

When Jesus called his disciples to follow him, he knew that he would be leading them on a difficult journey. They would face persecution, rejection, and even death for the sake of the gospel. Despite this, he was surprised to find that their hearts had become hardened.

Jesus’ words to his disciples about their hardened hearts can be found in Mark 8:17-21. Let’s take a closer look at what he meant.

What Does it Mean to Have a Hardened Heart?

In the Bible, the heart is often used as a metaphor for the innermost part of our being – our thoughts, emotions, and will. A hardened heart refers to a heart that has become resistant to God’s voice and unwilling to respond to his commands.

When we allow sin and disobedience to take root in our lives, our hearts can become hardened. We may become calloused to God’s promptings and deaf to his voice. Like an athlete who becomes desensitized to pain through repeated injuries, we can become desensitized to sin through repeated disobedience.

Why Did Jesus Accuse His Disciples of Having Hardened Hearts?

Jesus accused his disciples of having hardened hearts because they failed to understand the significance of the miracle he had just performed – feeding 4,000 people with just a few loaves of bread and fish.

Despite having witnessed Jesus’ previous miracles – such as healing the sick and raising the dead – they still struggled to grasp the full extent of his power and authority.

The Dangers of a Hardened Heart

A hardened heart can have serious consequences for our spiritual lives. When we refuse to listen to God’s voice and obey his commands, we miss out on his blessings and protection. We also put ourselves at risk of falling into temptation and sin.

In Hebrews 3:7-8, the author warns us not to harden our hearts as the Israelites did in the wilderness. They had witnessed God’s miracles and heard his voice, but they still rebelled against him and refused to enter the Promised Land.

How Can We Avoid a Hardened Heart?

The key to avoiding a hardened heart is to remain sensitive to God’s voice and obedient to his commands. We must be vigilant in guarding our hearts against sin and cultivating a spirit of humility and repentance.

We can do this by regularly reading and meditating on God’s word, praying for wisdom and insight, confessing our sins, and seeking accountability from other believers.


Jesus’ warning about hardened hearts serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of remaining sensitive to God’s voice and obedient to his commands. By cultivating a spirit of humility and repentance, we can avoid the dangers of a hardened heart and experience the fullness of God’s blessings in our lives.