I have been focusing on the Lord’s Prayer in a series of articles. After acknowledging God, Our Father who is in heaven, and praying that Gods’s kingdom come, and for God’s will to be done, Jesus instructed us to pray that His will be done on earth as it is heaven. But then, Jesus gets to where we live, instructing to pray that God give us our daily bread.
The daily bread for which Jesus taught us to pray is what we need for our support, but what exactly is “our daily bread”?
We think of sustenance, as in literal bread; we think of more figurative applications like food, resources, maybe even money, shelter, etc. It certainly can mean that, but Jesus did not mean that – at least not just that.
In fact, He certainly meant more than that!
We need bread for our physical bodies to live on a regular, ongoing basis, no doubt. We need support, shelter, clothes and other basic necessities. All of those things are supplied by God, ultimately. He sustains and maintains the universe and everything in it. It is all from God and sustained by God. But there is more.
After Jesus fed the 5000 with a few loaves of bread and fish (Jn. 6:1-13), He crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The next day the crowd, realizing where Jesus had gone, jumped in their boats and caught up with Him. Jesus knew they had followed Him because of the signs He performed and the food He provided. (Jn. 6:26) In that context, Jesus said to the crowd:
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal[iv] life, which the Son of Man will give to you….” (Jn. 6:27)
The people, no doubt, related these words to the provision of manna in the desert, but Jesus was getting at something else. He was pointed them to the Father “who gives you the true bread out of heaven” (Jn. 6:32), but they were not getting what Jesus was saying.
This where Jesus dives deeper. This is where Jesus says that He, Himself, is the bread of life! (Jn. 6:35) Jesus is the Living Bread! (Jn. 6:51)
“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” (Jn. 6:57)
To His disciples, Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (Jn. 6:63) Jesus, of course, is also the Word. (Jn. 1:1-11)
We cannot mistake what Jesus is saying. For the believer, God Himself and His word are the real sustenance that we need. The words Jesus spoke the crowd echo what Jesus responded to Satan when He was tested in the wilderness:
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Mt. 4:4 (quoting Deut. 8:3))
We must continually, daily, regularly go to God, read His word and seek Him in prayer and meditation. When the crowd asked Jesus what they must do to “work the works of God”, Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (Jn. 6:29) We believe in Him by taking to heart what He said, taking in to ourselves as sustenance His word and the free gift of life He offers us.
There is nothing we can do, like the Israelites in the wilderness, to manufacture what we need. What we need is to go back continually to Jesus, the source of life, our daily bread, and be filled each day. It is an understatement to say that we do not need anything more critically in our lives than the daily bread that is God and His Word.
The next place we stop on the tour of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray is forgiveness of sins, which is the next article in the series.
[i] 740/ártos – literally, bread; (figuratively) divine provision; the full sustenance God supplies to yielded believers to live in His preferred-will (cf. 2307/thélēma). Christ Himself is the bread (ártos) of life, so all true provision (bread) comes by knowing Him, through faith (Jn 6:35; 1 Cor 10:17).
[ii] The phrase “daily bread” is emphasized in the Greek. The emphasis of the sentence is on “daily bread”, meaning that the focus and crucial elements of the sentence are in those two words.
[iii] The original text conveys an emphatic contrast, i.e. an opposite idea (what is emphatically not intended) that should (mentally) go “in the box”. [The “opposite” idea can mean: “Not just a little!” (when expressing an intensification like “God is great!” = very, very great . . . not just a little!] Contrast-emphasis re-directs to the opposite of what is literally (actually) said. In doing so, it intensifies the meaning. In this case, meaning not just some days, but every day.
[iv] The emphasis in the original sentence is on the word “eternal”.
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