LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 22 September 2019
Sermon Text: Matthew 6:11
I. “Give us”
II. “This day”
III. “Our daily bread”
If you pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly, trying to focus on what you say and ask in the form of prayer, then, you’ll be able to notice that there’s a clear division in it. The Lord’s Prayer can be divided into two sections – the first is a petition made in a cosmic sense, that is, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be His name; His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Then, the second section includes invocations for the lives on earth. So far, we’ve meditated on the first section and, from today and on the following two Sundays, we’re going to open up the second section, starting from our text verse for today, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
This shift from the first to the second section, and beginning from the words of v. 11, the change is so significant and that makes us pause and take a breath. Let me read the Lord’s Prayer from the beginning to v. 11, and please note how dramatic this change is: “Our Father in heaven, hollowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread ….” I believe you know what I mean.
In this prayer, we’ve touched the things of the cosmic, spiritual realm as if we were standing before our great and awesome God, seeking His glory. Then, we suddenly come back to where we are, and see our need of bread. So, we begin and ask our heavenly Father for bread for today. In this beginning part of the Lord’s Prayer, we’ve gone up and come down in spirit.
Having said, a few questions arise – ‘What is our Lord’s intention with this sudden change?’, ‘Why did He want us to pray about these two different things?’ More specifically considering this beginning of the second section, why is it “Give us this day,” instead of abundant supply for many days or years, and why “our daily bread,” instead of meat or silver or gold? Why does He want us to pray for our physical needs first rather than seeking our spiritual needs?
Answers for these questions are really important because, when you understand what this invocation means and intends to teach you, you’ll see the heart of Jesus who loves us and wants to give us His heavenly treasures as He says in Mt. 20:4, He’ll give to us ‘everything that is in His vineyard.’ Let me assure you that, although the second section of the Lord’s Prayer covers what we need in this fallen world, this second half reveals to us how deep the Father’s love for us is and how gracious the Son’s atonement for us is and has bestowed on us His eternal blessings in an uncountable measure.
So, today, let us begin with the first petition of the second section of the Lord’s Prayer, namely, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and receive the blessings prepared for us.
I. “GIVE US”
We need to take note of the first two words, ‘Give us,’ which open the second section of the Prayer. But before going straight forward to see its meaning, let us think first about a question whether we, humans, are self-sufficient, whether we have ability to supply what we need for our life.
The eastern part of Australia, especially QLD and northern NSW, is under a severe drought, and most places in the drought-affected area are vulnerable to the danger of bushfire. In such a situation, could people create rain to soak the land, fill up dams and reservoirs, thus, quench the thirst? Or could people stop deadly natural phenomena such as hurricane Dorian that destroyed the Bahamas early this month, and preserve people’s homes and livelihood as well as lives? Or, scaling this question down to our daily living, can people supply what they are in need, such as food, water to drink, fresh air to breathe, clothes to cover, and houses to live in? Are we, humans, self-sufficient?
The answer is, of course, ‘No, we’re far from being sufficient.’ Human beings can never meet our needs even with a tiny thing around us. Instead, we who are insufficient beings receive all things – both visible and invisible things – from God whose name is ‘El Shaddai,’ the all-sufficient God. From breathing air to wisdom, from drinking water to knowledge, everything we receive from God.
So, the very first thing we must know and confess before God is what we are in relation to our all-sufficient God. He is the Giver and we’re receivers; He is the Benefactor and we’re beneficiaries. This is what this phrase, “Give us,” teaches us. Saying, ‘Give us,’ we recognise God as our Giver; saying, ‘Give us,’ we confess that God is our Father and we’re His children.
We’re rather God’s infant children than school-age or teenage children. That’s because, like the way every infant depends totally on his parents, we depend on our Father. About our physical and spiritual needs, we’re exactly like infants before God. Some might think that they’re mature enough to stand alone, but remember what the Lord said through His apostle in 1 Cor. 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Truth is, no one is spiritual; we all are so indulged in the things of this world and unless our gracious God upholds us through His Spirit, we would’ve easily fallen and gone back to the way of sin. Baptismal certificate cannot stop it or church membership has no power to guide us out of it; God alone sustains us to dwell in His righteousness. So, we’re God’s infant children totally dependent on Him who sustains us and supplies to us all things we need.
This is why our Lord Jesus taught us to pray and say, ‘Give us.’ By all means, we ought to begin and repeat this in our prayer, ‘Give us.’ ‘Give us’ is a reaffirmation of the confession we made in the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, namely, “Our Father in heaven.” God is our Father; He is our supplier; He loves us and hears us, He sustains us and takes care of us. After all, He gave His Son Jesus to us to save us which is our greatest need.
So we say, ‘Give us.’ Give us, Father, in Your love for us in Christ. By saying it, we confess that we depend on Him totally and completely, not only now but also eternally. So, Father, ‘Give us.’
This request also indicates a truly important point – that is, our confidence in God’s supply. Saying, ‘Give us,’ we reaffirm our confidence in our great and gracious Father! Listen to the Son Jesus who explains this great confidence with an illustration in Lk. 11:11-13, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” That same Lord teaches us to say in full confidence, ‘Give us.’ The apostle Paul brings the same message in different words in Rom. 8:28, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Our heavenly Father will give His children – His infant children – all things we need. Whatever we receive from Him is good for us, even though it sometimes looks differently to our eyes and unsatisfactory to our heart. After all, our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask for anything or even before our mind takes note of any need.
What does this mean to you and me? It urges us to always remain calm in our heart and soul, and joyful and happy because of the Father’s goodness toward us. It teaches us to not doubt our heavenly Father’s faithfulness. Also, it warns us not to think that we’ve earned anything, even our life in Jesus. God gives to us all things according to our need. This is what we say and pray, ‘Give us.’
II. “THIS DAY”
We move on from ‘Give us’ to the next point, ‘this day.’ I wonder why it is ‘this day’ and not ‘our entire life’ or, at least, ‘this month or year’? Have you thought about that?
To consider this, you and I need to go back in time and reach the Arabian wilderness where the OT Israel wandered for forty years. And I want you to go precisely to the moment of Ex. 16 where we read about God’s supply of Manna to His people. God gave them a direction for how to collect it daily. He commanded them to go out each day and gather enough for each day. Also in Num. 9, we read that God led Israel in the wilderness over that forty years by the cloud day and night. Num. 9:21-22 are quite interesting, and let me read those verses to you: “sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out.”
In this way, Israel was totally dependent on God, day by day, on that barren land over forty years. So, Jesus’ words recorded in Mt. 6:34 is a complete commentary of what happened to the OT Israel in addition to an admonition for us all to remember. There, in Mt. 6:34, Jesus tells us this: “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” We must content with God’s faithfulness and goodness and walk with Him daily basis.
To accept the Lord’s provision for this day without doubting for tomorrow is our contentment in God’s providence. Just like the bread baked fresh and supplied to our table that day is the most fabulous and enjoyable bread, God’s daily guidance and provision for His infant children is fresh and greatly enjoyable.
III. “OUR DAILY BREAD”
Then, our final point to contemplate is “our daily bread.” Here, ‘bread’ means all necessities of our daily existence. The Greek word translated as ‘bread’ is also symbolic of all our physical needs – such as food, health, good weather, home, family, good government, peace and so on.
Regarding these all daily necessities, we need to consider two points. Firstly, it is ‘OUR’ necessity. It’s not only for me and my family we pray and seek. Rather, it is ‘our’ needs – the needs of our Church, our society, our nation, our kingdom of God. Like God sent Jesus to save the ‘world’ – meaning, whoever in the world that believes in the Son of God, Jesus our Saviour and Lord – we’re obliged to extend the boundaries of our prayers from ‘I’ to ‘we’ and from ‘mine’ to ‘ours.’ Such is the teaching of this prayer that Jesus taught us to say – ‘Our daily bread.’
Secondly, this bread – that is, our necessity – is ‘daily’ bread. We pray to God to guide us and lead us ‘daily’ in our walk on earth. Like Abraham who did not know which way he was going, but followed the Lord’s guidance, we ask our Heavenly Father to guide us throughout our life on daily basis. We’re sojourners in this world, travelling heavenward. By praying ‘daily,’ we’re asking God to make us humble all the way, not to be greedy for luxuries or unnecessary things.
In case you plan for doing a long-distance bush walk, you would not put any unnecessary stuff in your backpack. If there’s anything unnecessary for your walk, you would surely discard it because that would drain your strength and make your walk more difficult and unsatisfactory. You wouldn’t care for keeping it at all. Just like that, what is necessary for our heavenward journey is what we ask in prayer. Jesus showed us His life as a clear example of this. He said that He had nowhere to lay His head. Yet, He was the richest man ever lived on earth as He prayed to His Father daily for a ‘daily’ provision.
R. C. Sproul points out that we’re in this modern age not to live from day to day basis. We tend to store up not just food but almost everything. So he diagnoses and says, ‘Given this custom, we have a powerful need to pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer and to grasp our constant dependence on the provision of God to sustain our very lives.’
So, the conclusion for us to remember today with this invocation in the Lords’ Prayer is that, saying, “Give us,” we must remember God is our Father and He supplies all the needs for us, His children. As we continue and say, “this day,” we remain confident on what the Father gives to us, and we remind us repeatedly of His good and sufficient providence. After all, we’ve received His greatest gift, His Son, Jesus our Saviour!
Then, by continuing and saying to God, “our daily bread,” we recognise our duty to expand our prayer boundaries and include in our petition the wellbeing of our fellow Christians as well as all people in the world, seeking the Lord’s mercy for all. This is what we mean when we pray to God, “Give us this day our daily bread.” ***