The Lord’s Prayer July 1-2, 2023
“Bread…And More” Matthew 6:11
Rev. John R. Larson Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Telling the truth is good policy, isn’t it? You’d rather have someone tell you how things really are than to sugarcoat a lie, wouldn’t you? Of course. Well, last Sunday, following the service one of our dear folks had this remark about the sermon I had preached. They said, “I think you went right over a ten-year-olds head in today’s sermon.”
I bet they were right. The last three weeks I bet I went over the shoulders, ears and heads of a number of ten-year-olds. Maybe some twenty-year-olds. How about some seventy-year-olds? Maybe even for that person who told me I missed my mark. The first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer can be a little complicated. “Hallowed be Thy name.” “Thy kingdom come.” “Thy will be done.” They seem so other-worldly. They are very spiritual, but are they understandable?
In today’s sermon I’m going to get much more down-to-earth. Those past weeks could be understood as dealing with the big things, now I’m going to talk about the little things. Last week the great things; today the small things. Today – “Give us this day our daily bread.”
I’m glad that God can take our soul and make it immortal. He has cleansed us from all sin through the death of Jesus Christ. He assures us that we are eternal because Jesus rose from death. Big things. Soul. Body. Heaven.
He cares for the soul. He cares about life after death. But He also cares about our belly. He cares about today. Daily bread. God is so practical. He cares about the “petty” things like:
- Will I be able to put food on the table?
- Will I be able to afford an apartment or a house to live in?
- Will I be able to pay Xcel Energy, Denver Water or my frightening, and unknown, property taxes?
- Will I be able to find employment that matches my skills and allows me to pay my debts?
Our God doesn’t live in an ivory tower but in our kitchen and garage. He cares about our checkbook and our savings account. He cares about the smallest things and the daily things. He tells us that we need to ask our heavenly Father, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
In the same chapter as the Lord’s Prayer Jesus talks about how our heavenly Father cares about the little things. By telling us these things Jesus is assuring us that because He cares about the little things He’ll care about the big things – that is, you. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important 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 more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Later Jesus would say, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-27, 33-34) Lilies of the field, birds of the air, the little things – God takes care of them. And he tells us that we are more valuable than them. Last Sunday, once again, talking about something quite insignificant (and more insignificant to some of us than to some of you!), Jesus says, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30) He cares about the “little” things which really aren’t little at all. That is why we are told, “Cast all our cares (anxieties) on him because he cares about you.” (I Peter 5:7)
In the Small Catechism (1529), Martin Luther asks “What is meant by daily bread?” He begins, “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body.” “Food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home…” He goes on to include such things as a loving family, good government, peace, good weather and wonderful friends. God is so practical. He gives us our bread and so much more. He is our Father and He cares for His children.
As you pray this prayer know that it is not a selfish prayer. We never pray for “me” or “mine” in any of these prayers. It is always “us”. Daily bread – needs of body and life, including good government, peace, good weather is our prayer for the countries in distress in Africa, for Pastor Mike’s orphanage and school in Haiti, for an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine, for the homeless, for the panhandlers at the corner of just about every corner in our city. We pray for bread and so much more for us and also for them.
At times God uses us to be the answer of this prayer. John has some convicting words: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words and tongue but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3:16-18)
There is one more way to see “Bread…and More” in this petition. In John 6:1-13 Jesus performs one of the great miracles of mercy for thousands of people. 5,000 men, plus women and children, had spent a whole day listening to the teachings of Jesus. They grew hungry and Jesus knew that they had not eaten for some time. He performed a miracle feeding the whole bunch with two fish and five loaves of bread. They had their fill and had twelve basketfuls of left-over pieces of bread. Do you know what you get when you feed people for free? You get very popular. You get folks who follow you. You get folks who know when breakfast or lunch should be served. And the same thing happened with Jesus. That crowd of 5,000 found Jesus once again and He addressed them, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:26)
Jesus used that miracle to tell them about something greater than daily bread. “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus then said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:32-35) Later, Jesus would make it even clearer, “Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:49-51)
Jesus wants to give us daily bread and much more. He wants us to receive Him and His deep and abiding gifts. Jesus would say, also in John 6, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” (John 6:53-55) When you come to this table you receive the bread of life – Jesus Christ.
I don’t know if a ten-year-old can comprehend all that. I don’t know if any of us can comprehend all of that. But I know that our God has given to us our daily bread and so much more.
Finally, you must use good manners when you ask for His gifts and after you receive them from God’s generous hand. Do you know the words, “Please”, and “Thank you”? Use them. Please is a polite word asking that if it is God’s will, He would provide such gifts. “Lord, please give us our daily bread.” And never forget the word of response!! Thank you!! “I have not taken Your generosity for granted, Lord.” “I stand amazed at how You, Lord, fill my cup to overflowing and keep on pouring!!” “Thank You, Lord, that You delight in giving us daily bread and so much more.” Amen!!