Have you ever really thought about the Lord’s Prayer? Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray correctly, but within that same chapter (Mt 6) there seems to be a contradiction… In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray “Give us today our daily bread” (Mt 6:11), but a few verses later Jesus tells his disciples “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Mt 6:31-32)… Huh? Didn’t Jesus just teach us to pray for our daily bread? And isn’t that worrying about ‘what we shall eat’?
But maybe this isn’t a contradiction…maybe we just have to correctly understand what Jesus meant when he taught us to pray “give us today our daily bread.”
In John 6 Jesus refers to himself as the “bread of life” (Jn 6:48). What else was Jesus? Jn 1:14 says that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is referring to Jesus, he was the Word made flesh.
If Jesus is the ‘bread of life’ and also the Word made flesh, what is this bread that we are supposed to eat in order to have life (Jn 6:51)? It is Jesus’ spiritual flesh, which refers to Jesus’ words. Hearing and accepting them (eating his flesh, which is the bread of life) is what leads to eternal life.
However, if this is misunderstood, or understood literally it can cause great confusion. Many people have turned away from Christianity because of this very teaching, in fact it is even recorded in the Bible that some of Jesus’ followers “turned back and no longer followed him” after hearing this teaching (Jn 6:66). Why? Because, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60)
As for the “today” and “daily” parts (“Give us today our daily bread”)… They are both referring to a timeframe. When is the best time to eat? I can’t eat tomorrow’s lunch today, that is in the future, and I can’t eat yesterday’s breakfast today either, if I missed it I missed it. So when is the best time to eat a meal? Today! Basically this is telling us that we have to eat the bread at the proper time. We cannot eat it before we are supposed to, and if we miss the proper time to eat, the time has passed. Mt 24:45 talks about a similar thing: “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants of his household to give them their food at the proper time?”
At Jesus’ first coming the food was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies. They were all physically fulfilled through Jesus, and he testified about their fulfillment, yet the Pharisees did not accept his testimony. They did not eat the “food at the proper time,” and therefore did not receive life (John 5:36-40). However, the Bible does not end after Jesus ascends to heaven.
There are promises and prophecies in the New Testament that have to be fulfilled. The physical fulfillment of the New Testament prophecies becomes the “food at the proper time” for us. If we refuse to ‘eat’ this food, if we do not accept the testimony of the one God sends to testify (like Jesus at the first coming), then we are no better than the Pharisees 2000 years ago.
Let’s make sure we keep praying for our daily bread, so that we can eat at the proper time and receive life.
Have you ever baked your own (homemade) bread?