Ring the Bell
November 26, 2020
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I’m not sure what the dinner ritual looks like at your house, but we call our kids to the dinner table when the food is almost ready to be served. If we time it right, they have just enough time to wash their hands and pour a drink. Then I pray a short prayer because I believe it’s good stewardship to eat a hot meal while it’s hot.
Never once have I called the kids to an empty table. Of course, now that I mention it, that might be a really good object lesson! It might help us identify with the millions who go to bed with aching stomachs every day. It might also accentuate the absurdity of the fourth miracle. Jesus says:
Have the people sit down.
Jesus rings the dinner bell, but the table is empty! He has everybody take a seat, as if they’re going to eat. He even blesses the imaginary meal. But as it stands, He’s going to have to split two fish twenty thousand ways!
Have you ever had to wait for a meal longer than expected? Or had a waiter tell you they ran out of whatever you ordered?
The longer you have to wait, the hungrier and grumpier you get. It can get very ugly very fast. And anyone who has worked in the food service industry knows what I’m talking about. This may not seem like a dangerous situation, but if dinner isn’t served, this crowd of twenty thousand turns into a mob.
That’s why this prayer ranks as one of Jesus’ most amazing. He is so calm and collected. John doesn’t reference Jesus’ prayer, but the other Gospels do, and it’s the same prayer He prays at the Last Supper. In both instances I’m not sure that my words would be dripping with gratitude. But Jesus gives thanks.
Jesus thanks His Father for something He doesn’t have.
Jesus thanks His Father for something that hasn’t happened yet.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.