Friday, May 30, 2008

Our Daily Bread

Smack in the middle of the Our Father the Lord Jesus placed the Fourth Petition: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

What did the Lord Jesus mean by this? We usually hear from this the wonderful explanation that Dr. Luther supplies in the Small Catechism.

However, considering the context of the entire prayer, could it be that the Lord was teaching much more to us as His disciples?

Consider His declaration to the Jews in John 6:26-35.

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

With this declaration from the lips of the Lord, does the Fourth Petition sound richer and fuller? Is there a reason that this sits in the middle of the prayer that He gave, saying, “When you pray, pray this”? Could it be that the Lord means for us to receive this petition as more than the center of the prayer but also the very foundation of our life of faith?

Since Jesus declares that faith in Jesus is the work of God, does it not seem fitting that He would teach us to pray that our Father in heaven would daily give us this bread of faith for our life in Him?

Wouldn’t you agree that this is “food” for thought?


Anonymous said...

Daily bread certainly includes everything we need to support this body and life. It may also include the idea you present; at least, I don't think we can exclude it. Consider the liturgical use of the Prayer immediately prior to the Verba. Implicitely, Lutherans recognize this connection.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

I continue to marvel at the richness of the divine liturgy. Indeed the Lord's Prayer precedes the words of Institution in recognition of God's gifts being ours not by what we say and do but by what HE says and does through His Word.

I had earlier thought of including the Lord's response to Satan in Matthew 4:4 in this connection:

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Here the Lord declares plainly that our perception of daily bread is a false perception if it is in any way separated from the Word by which all things exist. For by God's decree we live and breathe and have our happiness. Truly the Word, Christ, is our daily bread, as all things exist through Him and by Him and all connection with God's goodness and blessing are in communion with Him in His body.

Even our "right" or authorization to call God "Our Father" is only in connection with Christ Jesus.

Fogiveness of sins follows immediately upon the petition for daily bread, as though the Lord were explaining what our daily bread really is, followed by the petition that God would lead us so that we wander not into temptation.

Truly this is our daily bread by which we live, both now and even forevermore.

As Satan rightly acknowledged, if necessary, God can command the stones to become bread for us. Satan presented this as a temptation, but Jesus, acknowledging the true daily bread was not dependent upon anything but the Word.

What a strange way the Lord walks for us. Jesus, being both God and Man in one person could be tempted to doubt Himself (the Word), yet as the very Word He could not fall into sin. He could only become Sin for us by God's decree, by the power of the Word, and thus He who knew no sin became sin for us and conquered sin according to His own everlasting righteousness.

That truly is a lot to digest. It truly is a feast that fills a person and satisfies both body and soul.