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  • Writer's pictureRev. Joel L. Tolbert

What do YOU have?

Vacation Bible Worship, week 2 of 2

Two-week series for the children on Baptism and Communion

Preached June 28, 2020 for the 9:30am Virtual Worship


Scripture/Sermon Matthew 15:32-39

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”

33 The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?”

34 Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”

They said, “Seven, and a couple small fish.”

35 Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces, left overs, seven baskets full. 38 Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children.

39 After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magdala.

(This is the word of the Lord… Thanks be to God!)


Have you ever been with someone when they realized they didn’t have enough money to get something? I’ve seen it happen before to me with someone in the line in front of me at a coffee shop. They order. The cashier punches in their order, and the people behind the counter start making their order. The cashier tells them how much it is, and they realize, they don’t have enough. Maybe it turned out to be a little more than six dollars, and they only brought five. Maybe they start frantically tapping their pockets or combing through their purse just to realize, they forgot their wallet somewhere.

Its an awkward moment when that happens. Usually the person is a little flustered, a little embarrassed. They realize they are holding up the line behind them, but also aren’t sure how to solve the problem.

Now imagine that person who realizes they don’t have enough turns to you and says, “How much do you have?” Can you imagine that? A person trying to get something in line in front of you turns to you and says, “How much do you have?” How would you feel? What would you think? What would you do?

In today's story, Jesus wants something, but he doesn’t have enough to get it. He sees the crowds of hungry people and he wants to make sure they are fed, but he also knows he doesn’t have enough. So he turns to the disciples and asks them, “How much do you have?”

Okay, there are 12 disciples, right? But notice what they say… "We only have seven loaves, and not like full loaves… more like dinner rolls really. Geesh, Jesus its not like we have long French baguettes… ha ha ha ha ha… no, we just have these seven, small, dinner roll sized loaves. That’s all. That’s all we’ve got, handy, available, on us, at this moment. That’s all."

"That’s all?" he asks.

"Well, and a few fish. A couple really. Smallish fish, tiny, not even enough for a lunch, more like appetizer sized fishes. They more like bait for real fish than they are fish. Yeah, just a couple minnows."

I’ve always gotten the feeling the disciples were holding out on Jesus. Jesus sees the crowds, and wants to feed them, but didn’t bring enough to do so. Then Jesus turns to them and asks, “What do you have?” They hesitantly leak out the truth, but I feel sure they don’t really want him to take their lunch. They are hungry too. They worry that if they let Jesus know what they really have, everything they really have, Jesus will take it, give it away, and they will be left with nothing. So they hold back on Jesus.

They were right about him. Once he does figure out what they have, he takes it from them. I can just see one of the disciples slapping one of the other ones on the shoulder and saying, “See! I told you he would take it all. Now, we’re gonna be the hungry ones later tonight.”

What they didn’t yet know, or didn’t yet fully trust, is that when we let go of our things into Jesus’ hands for Jesus’ plans, there’s still plenty for us AND for lots of others around us. He took those seven loaves and those few tiny fish and somehow fed thousands of people with it.

What would happen if we didn’t hold back? What would happen if when Jesus turned to us and asked, “What do you have?”, we got excited, giddy even, willing to vulnerably tell him what we really have, put it in his hands, and watch him set a big wide table where there would be plenty of room for everyone and us too.

That’s how this God we know in Jesus does things. This God could do it without us, but chooses instead to turn to us and ask, “What do you have?”

Let’s be honest. Let’s be generous. Let’s be excited to give it over to him, and watch the miracles he can do with it!

To God be all glory and honor, now and forever. Amen.


Now, Blessing, laughter, and loving be yours, and may the love of a great God, who names you and holds you as the earth turns and the flowers grow be with you, this day, this night, this moment and forevermore.

Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

Pastor, Presbyterian Church of Chestertown

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