Dinner On The Grounds! Jimmy Gentry May 1, 2005 Matthew 14:13-21 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 bread. 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. Discovering 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. Missionary Webster 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 the grounds. 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, either. 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 Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.