Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Luke 13:22–30 22He went on his way from one town and village to another, teaching, and making his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone said to him, “Lord, are only a few going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. 25Once the master of the house gets up and shuts the door, you will begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open for us!’ He will tell you in reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27And he will say, ‘I don’t know where you come from. Depart from me, all you evildoers.’ 28There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown outside. 29People will come from east and west, from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30And note this: Some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.

I learned about the Keto diet from Stacy. If you haven’t heard about the Keto diet, it is very low on carbs and very high on fats and proteins. This was good information to have because, as part of my pastoral mentoring duties, I took Pastor Scoggins from New Hope to breakfast this week. We ate at the Blue Bear restaurant down the road.

I was interested in their signature breakfast, the Blue Bear Benedict. For $4 more, I could have it Keto style. I asked the waitress what that entailed. She said, “You will still have the poached egg and Berkshire ham, but your potato pancakes will be made with cauliflower.”

“Whoa!” I said. “That’s not happening. You are not substituting wonderful potatoes for the worst vegetable on earth.”

Stacy loves the Keto diet. Where I love bread, she struggles to even pray for “daily bread.” She would much rather substitute “give us this day our daily kale, cucumber or cauliflower.”

In the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, we have prayed for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives – that God’s Word be preached purely and lived rightly, that God’s kingdom come through Word and Sacrament, and that God’s will be done and the devil’s will be thwarted. We call these spiritual blessings because they have to do with the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening of faith, and the delivering of God’s salvation to us.

But God is not only concerned about our soul. He is also concerned with our body. He teaches us to first pray for our soul – which is eternal, and then to pray for our body – which is temporal. Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther answers what asking for daily bread means:

God surely gives daily bread without our asking, even to all the wicked, but we pray in this petition that he would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

Both Christians and non-Christians receive physical blessings from God. Jesus teaches, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). The Christian’s lawn receives rain and so does his anti-Christian neighbor. The believing farmer is blessed with good weather and so is the unbelieving farmer. The Christian worker enjoys the same job as the atheist worker.

It is different with salvation. Jesus gives physical blessings to both the righteous and the wicked. Spiritual blessings are reserved for the righteous, though. Jesus teaches that the door to salvation is open to all, but only a few enter. “Strive to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). The pagan, the unbelievers, the wicked will not receive the blessings of salvation. They reject God’s gift of Jesus as their Savior. They choose not to enter through the narrow door.

The door is narrow. That doesn’t mean that we have to squeeze to fit in. It means there is only one way to enter. But the door is open wide for you. Jesus has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Trust in him – only him – and you will be saved.

Luke tells us numerous times in his gospel that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem (Luke 13:22). Luke isn’t just giving us directions. He is telling us that there on a skull-shaped hill outside Jerusalem, Jesus’ arms were extended far and wide upon the cross. Those divinely-human arms bore the full weight of the world’s sins upon them. Those perfectly scourged arms opened wide the doorway to heaven so that all who believe in him might be saved. Those crucified and resurrected arms are waiting to embrace you into his heavenly kingdom.

This is reserved for the righteous – those who believe in Jesus. The door is slammed shut on the wicked – those who reject Jesus’ gift of spiritual blessings.

Until that time, Jesus opens his arms to pour out his physical blessings on both the righteous and the wicked.

Jesus teaches us, “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). “These things” are our daily bread – food, clothing, shelter, income, health and the necessities of life. Jesus teaches that it’s good for us to pray for these things. But only after we have first prayed for God’s things – his name, his kingdom and his will.

Don’t let earthly possessions become your obsession. Don’t be anxious about them. Don’t worry about them. Jesus teaches, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).

So don’t worry. Trust your heavenly Father to take care of you. He will!

I want you to consider the Fourth Petition as the antidote to worry.

Scripture teaches that God supplies every physical need for all people. God doesn’t wait to be asked before he supplies our needs. Jesus teaches, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).

That means that the Fourth Petition is not a “give me” prayer. It is rather a “thank you” prayer. Jesus doesn’t need to teach us to pray for our daily needs. We do that naturally. “God surely gives daily bread without our asking.”

Rather, we are praying in this petition, “that we would realize this and to receive daily bread with thanksgiving.”

Praying this petition reminds us that our daily bread doesn’t come from Aldi or Wal-Mart. It doesn’t come from the farmer or baker. It doesn’t come from your employer who gives you your paycheck. It comes from God. Just like the manna that came from heaven to feed the Israelites during their wilderness wandering. (Although, I personally think that manna was Hawaiian sweet bread. I love bread!)

God is the one who gave bread from his hand to feed the Israelites. God is the one who gives bread from his hand to feed you.

Martin Luther asks “what is meant by daily bread?”

Daily bread includes everything that we need for our bodily welfare, such as food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, a godly spouse, godly children, godly workers, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good weather, peace and order, health, a good name, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

Wow! That’s a lot of ingredients to go into a loaf of bread! Imagine if they listed all those on the package!

Everything we have. Everything we buy. Everything we own. It all comes from God.

Bread is eaten by people all over the world. It is a mainstay of many people’s diets. Bread is also a biblical way of describing how God sustains life on earth (Isaiah 55:2). Luther explains this in his Large Catechism:

Here, now, we consider the poor bread basket, the necessaries of our body and of the temporal life. It is a brief and simple word, but it has a very wide scope. For when you mention and pray for daily bread, you pray for everything that is necessary in order to have and enjoy daily bread and, on the other hand, against everything which interferes with it. Therefore you must open wide and extend your thoughts not only to the oven or the flour-bin, but to the distant field and the entire land, which bears and brings to us daily bread and every sort of sustenance. For if God did not cause it to grow, and bless and preserve it in the field, we could never take bread from the oven or have any to set upon the table. (Large Catechism, Part III, The Lord’s Prayer, par. 72)

When we pray this petition, we are recognizing all the blessings we receive in our daily life are not from how great or smart or talented we are. They come from God the Father Almighty. Do not take these great gifts for granted. They are blessings of God’s mercy. Instead of patting ourselves on the back, we fold our hands and thank God.

Give us “this day” our “daily” bread. We’ve talked about what Jesus means with the word “bread.” Notice the emphasis Jesus puts on bread for this day. Not bread in the pantry or the freezer. Not bread for next month or next year or the next ten years. Bread for today – this day. Like the manna in the wilderness. Enough for each day. Jesus teaches us to trust in him, rely on him, find our security in him. Oh, it will be wise for us to invest in the stock market and our 401k. It is good for us to do some wise financial planning and exercise good judgment. But it is even better for us to have confidence in God. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

With this petition, Jesus teaches us to pray for greater confidence in our loving, heavenly Father. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32)? If the Father gave you the greatest spiritual gift of his Son, don’t you think he’s going to take care of your lesser physical gifts, too?

The Father has provided you with the spiritual blessings to get you to eternity. He will surely provide you with the physical blessings here in time – one day at a time.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” It may seem like a simple petition, or even an unnecessary one. But really, there’s a lot here involved in this petition. Thanksgiving. Trust. Confidence. The antidote to worry. Daily bread to overcome our obsession with possessions. Recognizing everything that goes into daily bread. Praying for everyone from the Case factory worker who makes the tractors, to the farmer who uses the John Deere tractor, to the truck driver who delivers the food, to the baker, stocker and clerk in the store, to the police officer, military soldiers and government officials who provide peace … and so many more. Giving thanks to God that he involves so many people – both the righteous and the wicked to provide daily bread to us and our neighbors. Giving thanks to God that he uses us in this process to feed our family, our neighbor and the needy.

Yes, there are certainly a lot of ingredients baked into this daily loaf of bread! Amen.

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time (Psalm 145:15) Amen.