Danny Bush entitles
a chapter in his book, Invitation to the Feast, “Dinner on the Grounds.”
One of my earliest memories is a “dinner on the grounds” at an associational
meeting some 45 years ago. That Tuesday afternoon there were four wagons parked
beside that small country church, each loaded with an abundance of food. Indeed,
it was a feast on the grounds!
Long ago there
was another feast, which literally was a “dinner on the grounds.” There were
no wagons loaded with food, though. This particular feast required some ingenuity.
There were more than 5,000 people – well over 10,000 in all likelihood – on
the grounds that day and there were only a couple of fish and a few loaves of
The miracle of
the Feeding of the 5,000 is the only nature miracle recorded by all four Gospel
writers. It symbolizes Jesus’ concern for human needs and His power to meet
those needs. In multiplying bread and fish, Jesus suggests one would always
get back more than one gives when faith is genuine.
Resources in Limitations (v. 17)
Jesus had compassion
on those who were sick and offered healing. When evening came, the disciples
urged Him to send the people away so they could buy food in nearby villages.
Yet Jesus suggested there was no need for the people to leave, commanding the
disciples to give them something to eat. They said to Him, “We have nothing
but five loaves and two fish” (v. 17).
We have nothing,
but . . . Oh, what God can do with the “but.” We are to see resources in limitations.
Fives loaves and two fish limits us, but not Christ. There are things we can
do with limited resources, which are at our fingertips, if we’ll hear Jesus
saying, “Bring them here to me”(v. 18). In other words, give
Jesus what you have.
Carroll spoke in seminary chapel more than 25 years ago. In that service I
heard him tell an incredible story about driving to a village in Uganda to secretly
minister there during the terrifying reign of Idi Amin. On the way he came
upon a roadblock where soldiers were checking for materials that had been forbidden,
like Bibles and hymnals. He figured he would be shot for carrying illegal items.
Figuring his life
was about to end, he humbly prayed, “Lord, help me be brave and do the right
thing, even if it costs me my life.” As he neared the roadblock, he said immediately
he pulled over to the side, reached into the backseat and got a box of hymnals.
He got out of the jeep with the hymnals and said to the soldiers, “Come on fellows,
we are going to sing.” He couldn’t believe what he was doing. He couldn’t
believe what they did! Those soldiers put down their guns and walked over to
a shaded area with him. He gave each a hymnal and he taught them to sing songs
like “Amazing Grace.” That went on for a good while.
It was sort of
a “dinner on the grounds,” even though the food was spiritual. In that moment
God offered a kind of “daily bread” to Web Carroll through the resource of Ugandan
hymnbooks, which saved his life and brought salvation to others.
Perhaps in the
back seats of our lives can be found resources that will not only save our lives
but will save the lives of others. People need some grace that is amazing. This
grace comes through literal bread and fish for there are those who suffer from
hunger. There are those who are starving and wounded who need a bit of amazing
grace. Take what you have and watch Jesus multiply it for a great dinner on
Jesus Uses His
Followers to Serve the Dinner (v. 19)
After Jesus took
the fish and loaves, and offered a blessing, He “gave them to the disciples
and the disciples gave them to the crowd”(v. 19). Jesus doesn’t do
ministry by Himself. He uses His disciples as instruments in meeting the needs
of others, wherever they are, as they wait to be served dinner on the grounds,
even if they are unaware of their wait and need for food. The church is His
eyes, His ears, His hands, His feet, His voice, and His miracle workers. We
are to provide food, physical and spiritual, for a hungry humanity.
The task of ministry
is entrusted to those who have responded to Jesus’ invitation to an everlasting
feast. God uses us to bless others in need. Don’t be afraid to serve dinner
on the grounds. Don’t be afraid to eat with those you serve on the grounds,
Jesus used His
disciples to multiply the fish and bread. He uses Christians today as God’s
instruments in meeting the needs of others – Habitat for Humanity, Salvation
Army, The Soup Kitchen, and through other means.
God uses whatever
we bring to him. What will you bring?
Sermon brief provided by: Jimmy Gentry, Pastor of
Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, GA