“GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD”
Sermon Text, St. John 4:31-34, 19:28-30
Lord Jesus, we thank You for everything, but our thanks are nothing compared with Your boundless love. Give us Your righteousness, and let Your mind be in us. Give us this grace that Your will more and more may be our food, our joy, and our strength. Amen. (Book of Family Prayer, p. 115)
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ, who is our meat and drink indeed, faith lives upon no other:
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus puts in order the things we should pray for. “Give us this day our daily bread” comes halfway down the list in fourth.
If we were making the list we wouldn’t put it fourth. Daily bread – all that’s needed for this life – never comes in fourth place when we pray. It’s often the first thing we pray for, and sometimes it’s the only thing.
Should we feel guilty about that? Not really. God wants you to ask Him for your daily needs. But it’s a little dangerous. If you have a direct line to God, can’t it become selfish? If everyone needs something, how is it not a free-for-all, with everyone trying to budge in front? There’s always a new worry or a new problem. So praying the fourth petition can turn into a self-serving, self-centered activity where you don’t look beyond yourself.
This explains what Jesus is doing in these verses of John 4. When they said, “Rabbi, eat,” He responded, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Their minds are on food and He turns it into a teachable moment. They looked at each other quizzically and said, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus could be frustrating that way. Sometimes you just want to eat, you don’t want a lesson or a pop quiz.
But what did Jesus say? “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish the work.”
Jesus is not saying that He never needed to eat bread or drink water. He did need that. One of the ways the Bible shows that Jesus was fully man is that it shows Him needing daily bread, having the same physical needs. He had His disciples gather grain on the Sabbath out of need. It even says in Luke’s gospel, about the women who followed Him along with the 12 disciples, that they “provided for Him out of their substance” (Lk 8:2-3), they helped provide things for Jesus’ basic daily needs, like food and lodging (things the disciples, being men, wouldn’t think of until the last minute).
So Jesus did need food to eat, He needed sleep, He needed His mother’s love, He needed friends, He needed quiet and time to think, He needed money to buy things. This is love, that He came down to need what you need, to sanctify your daily needs. He prayed this and trusted God with a perfect heart, which you need too; He takes away what’s lacking in our trust.
But here He makes us think more deeply about what’s needed. Recall how He told poor care-worn Martha: “One thing is needed” (Lk 10:42). As Savior of the world, Jesus says His daily bread consists of what He’s doing for others, all people in the world. His food, His meat and drink, is to “finish the work,” carry out the plan of salvation, “the will of Him who sent Me.”
We know where this would end: on the cross, when Jesus said, “It is finished!” Now you know why He said, “I thirst,” right before that. He tells His disciples that His meat and drink was to finish the work of salvation for all who could not drink this cup of suffering.
He could feed 5,000 every single day and still there would be more poor, more hungry, more lonely, and everyone would be unsatisfied. He came to make satisfaction. He came to finish the work. “Finish” means to complete but it also means to perfect.
It’s not far from the meaning of Shalom, the Hebrew word that we translate “peace” when the risen Jesus says to the disciples, “Peace to you.” It means that everything is put back together, there is wholeness and soundness, tranquility and peace, safety and rest, no being out of sorts or agitated, everything in perfect harmony.
This is what Jesus came to provide – to “finish the work,” not just have lunch or provide it. He has in mind the establishment of shalom – wholeness and soundness, tranquility and peace, safety and rest, everything in perfect harmony, nothing out of sorts or agitated. Now isn’t this more than you have on your mind when you pray for your daily bread, or for a specific need?
This is what Jesus is pushing His disciples to see. Those who follow Jesus don’t spend all their time looking inward. They look up – to the cross. They look outward – to see all whom Jesus sees, for whom He says, “I thirst,” and then says, “It is finished!”
Let this enter your prayers. Pray for your daily bread to the cross and from the cross. Pray not only for your daily bread but for others – when you see your parents worried, when you see your child needing a friend or a good result in school, when you see what your spouse wants and needs, as you’re aware of a homeless person, or a person struggling with depression, or a grieving widow or widower. Pray for them to receive what they need. Jesus is here pushing you to see that your daily bread is connected to everyone else’s daily bread. We pray for our daily bread, that all our wants be satisfied.
His words “It is finished,” His “Peace to you,” gives you confidence that in Him all your wants are satisfied, and gives you the heart for others to receive all good in Him. He leads us in this prayer for our bread as a “we” who are together in Him. Amen!