Food for thought
Part seven of a series of studies on the Lord’s Prayer
“ ‘Give us today our daily bread.’ ” Matthew 6:11 (NIV)
The fragile human bodies we inhabit need constant maintenance, constant feeding. Without a regular supply of food, we become weak, ill and unable to carry out all the activities involved in just being human. For a relatively short period of time the Creator of all, inhabited that same, temporary, fragile body. He knew what it was to be hungry: ‘After fasting forty days and forty nights,’ as recorded in Matthew 4:2, there is the massively understated comment: ‘he was hungry.’ In that weakened state, Satan tempted him with food.
Right from the beginning, the Creator God had provided food for the beings that bore His image, and He explained to Adam: “…I have given you every herb that yields seed…and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” (Genesis 1:29 NKJV).
Later, when the Israelites found themselves wandering through a barren wilderness, between leaving Egypt and entering the Promised Land, God miraculously provided them with daily food in the shape of manna – enough for each day’s needs and no more. It was ‘daily bread’. The Greek word used for ‘daily’ carries the sense of ‘necessary’ or ‘sufficient’. When they entered the Promised Land, the manna stopped because it was no longer ‘necessary’. God had provided a land to live in that was described as ‘a land which flows with milk and honey’ and it was ‘sufficient’. (Numbers 14:8).
Throughout the gospel accounts of his ministry, Christ was keenly aware of this heritage – that food was faithfully provided by his Father, just as it always had been. He was frequently recorded as thanking his Father for the life-giving food that his human body benefitted from. He recognised the provider of the food with which he fed about 5000 people. He ‘took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples…’ (John 6:11). The disciples whom he met on the road to Emmaus, after His crucifixion, recognised him when he offered thanks for the food they were eating. It was all about recognising where the food came from – and we are reminded not to take that for granted, to pray for it, and to be grateful for it.
There are discussions over whether the instruction to pray for ‘daily bread’ refers to physical or spiritual food. We are regularly brought back to the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection through food and drink – the bread and the wine of communion. It doesn’t really matter which it is since both are necessary for our day-to-day existence, if we are focused on looking to God and the establishment of his kingdom. Whether spiritual or physical, we are following in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour.
Heavenly Father, please provide each one of us with the food we need to live today and accept our thanks for it. Amen.
Study by Maggie Mitchell
About the writer:
Maggie Mitchell attends the Northampton congregation of Grace Communion International and is Chair of the Pastoral Council
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