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[This sermon is one of a series entitled “Sermon on the Mount, Concentrating on the Beatitudes,” which is being preached on Sunday mornings by Pastor Tim Senter.]

It is a glorious thing to see souls getting right with God. I pray that many of you have been doing that very thing as we study through the Lord’s Prayer. We should be especially mindful of the need for our individual spiritual cleansing and chastening as we consider the words used here in our Lord’s Prayer.  He says, “Pray ye therefore in this manner” and then tells us to demand things of God.

Demanding that God do things for or give things to us takes us to a new level in our spiritual and prayer life. It makes us consider our true heart’s condition. When we opened the discussion of verse 10, we found that we first demanded that God’s kingdom come. Understanding that this is a demand we are making upon God, we realize praying in this fashion calls upon God to bring about His wrath upon the sin filled Earth. This prayer demands that God’s kingdom be established here, now, on Earth. In fact, we found that the believer was actually calling for God’s kingdom to already have been established. In this prayer, with this attitude, believers would be calling for the end times to not just be underway or in process, but completed. Christian, do you realize what people would think if you began praying that God’s kingdom would be established upon this Earth and that the end of this Earth would come about? Even believers would have a hard time with that kind of prayer because they know they are not ready for it. They know they are not prepared to meet their maker. They know they are not worthy of His kingdom. Even to the most penitent, it is a frightful thought.

We then considered “thy will be done” and found it equally as challenging. If we call for the perfect sinless kingdom of God, and then call equally for the perfect, sinless will of God, we call for the perfect judgment of God upon all sin. We never visited Deuteronomy chapter 7, however if we had spent any time there what we find is that God is dedicated to providing a pure place for His chosen people that is free from corruption and soul contaminating sin. God wanted Israel to completely annihilate the Canaanites. This was not because He hated the Canaanites but because they would contaminate the Israelites. They would corrupt the souls, hearts and minds of the Israelites. This would render the Israelites incapable of being in the presence of God. They were already bad enough; they really did not need any help. Eliminating sin and the influence and corruption of sin upon the believer is a consistent theme in scripture. From God’s judgment in the time of Noah, to the end time judgment on the whole Earth, God eradicates sin when it is too prevalent. When His longsuffering has been exhausted, God will judge evil. This is why Jesus tells us He left here to prepare a home for us in Heaven – so Christians, as the chosen children of God, can have a place free from sin to worship and be with God. This perfect will is what we pray for when we call out “thy will be done.”

In the next phrase, we find yet another disturbing truth. We pray for God’s kingdom, and His perfect will to be done in Heaven and on Earth equally. It does not surprise us to call for His will to be done in Heaven, and for most it is not alarming to hear talk of His will being done on Earth. Calling for God’s perfect kingdom to stay sinless in Heaven is not alarming. It does not affect anyone directly on Earth. Calling for His perfect will to be done on Earth is equally as concerting. People experience harmony with both of these thoughts because one deals strictly with Heaven in one aspect and the other with God’s perfect sovereignty on Earth. We are accustomed to either or both of these ideas. We know life happens here, and it is perfect in Heaven. What puts the natural man all in a twist is to think that these two things will meet here on Earth – God’s kingdom and His perfect will.

When God’s perfect will is implemented here on Earth, such that His kingdom can be established here, the Earth as we know it will be destroyed. There will be a new Heaven and a new Earth to fulfill His perfect will. This scares people because it calls for God to take severe action (i.e., exterminate the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 7, destroy the Earth in Genesis 7).

We know from history and from our own recent historical actions as a nation, that we are not willing to do all that needs to be done to eradicate evil. The truth is, man likes evil. He enjoys chaos. Man actually thrives on it in a number of ways. All this will come to an end though when God implements His perfect will and His kingdom on Earth.

This is why we need grace. We need God’s perfect sustaining grace to know His perfect will. We need God’s perfect sustaining grace to be able to enter into His kingdom sinless and spot free. This is where Christ has us go next – to the throne of grace seeking that sustenance for our lives.

Matthew chapter 6 and verse 11 has always been a verse that is quoted for requesting daily physical sustenance.[1] It is used in a way that says we understand He is our provider. He is the one to give us our needed food. This verse has been correlated with the wilderness wanderings and God’s provision there for the Israelites. However, the truth is that we find great instruction in Job 23:12, where Job, in his defense against Eliphaz’s accusations (chapter 22) claims he has hungered and thirsted after the righteousness of God in His word. God’s word, Job says, has been more important than “my necessary food.” This spiritual provision is also the call in Proverbs 30:8 where we read, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches: feed me with food convenient for me.” The call is for us to be absent from sin or the temptation of sin, but given the food good to the body and soul. This is food that feeds the whole Christian (body and soul) bent upon God, and at enmity with sin.

As I was drafting this message, we were traveling to Green River to minister to the folks of Green River Bible Baptist Church and School. Pastor Ted York was gracious enough to extend an invitation for Chris and I to attend their Valentine’s banquet. Pastor York requested I give the challenge for his folks. We got into town a little early and stopped at a restaurant for lunch. As we sat there, I noticed that Tiger Woods, a very prominent professional golfer, was giving his conciliatory speech concerning a drunk driving incident and his infidelity. I noticed a number of things concerning this speech that struck me as very interesting. First, Mr. Woods was reading a speech that an “Image Consultant” helped him prepare. As I understood the reporter, this was the same individual who helped another prominent athlete, Alex Rodriguez (a baseball player) rebuild his image after his steroid abuse problems. Second, I noticed Mr. Woods said things such as “my selfish and irresponsible behavior,” “I alone am responsible for the situation” and he identified his actions as “stupid and selfish.” Another thing he said was that his “real apology will not be in words, but in action.” He stated that he is now, “aware of the pain [he] ha[s] caused everyone…” He acknowledged that his “behavior has been a major disappointment…” He realized he, “disappointed” all those involved in his life. He “stopped living according to [his] core values,” he was “wrong and foolish.” Mr. Woods talked of his career, of the changes he was going to make in his life, of the separate path in his future as opposed to his past activities and choices. Ultimately, Mr. Woods acknowledges a religious teaching. He admits he is Buddhist. This issue alone to this pastor is the problem.

Mr. Woods is like any other person in the world. He is a sinner. Sin—in this case manifested in the offenses he committed against his friends and family, his drinking, arrogance, self-absorption and ultimately adultery– is foretold in our scriptures. Primarily these are sins against God, as rebellious man wants to have things his way for his satisfaction and his enjoyment. Mr. Woods, in his view, is still only accountable to himself and called upon himself to make the changes. He is, in effect, saying in the press conference, “give me this day my daily credibility.” There was no subordination or acquiescence to any other authority. Although he admitted to entering rehabilitation and counseling, those services have no authority over Mr. Woods. Only God truly controls every individual. It is God’s grace that sustains us and we should be thankful for it.

The difference between the Christian who sins, and Mr. Woods who acts in a natural sense is that the Christian has a Savior and seeks His accountability in life. The other seeks no accountability except that within himself or in some dead man and his wise sayings. While one looks to a living person, Jesus the Godman, to help in all things, the other seeks the help of a fallible man, an image consultant or dead philosopher to bolster his appearance to the world. While one is interested only in God’s grace and approval, the other seeks to please man.

Finally, and more importantly, the difference between these two individuals is that one will enjoy eternal life with God in Heaven. The other will not have bliss, but enter torment for eternity. One, the Christian, realizes they have a poor spirit and that it is not within them to achieve Heaven. Their imperfection disqualifies them. The other either does not believe in Heaven, or thinks that they can achieve personal bliss and tranquility or a form of “nirvana” on their own. One has learned from their sin, the other will continue to manage their personal sin and keep it secret to impress man. While the Christian looks to the grace of God for His provision of faith and His eternal salvation of the soul; the natural man looks within himself and makes himself only accountable to himself. This sounds like the world as a whole – it is the way that natural man operates and there is nothing particular about “Buddhism” in it at all. This is exactly the point. We find that everyone outside of Christianity searching for “something” but never finding “anything” because without Christ there is “nothing.”

We have seen in Mr. Woods the normal result of this, just as we have seen others in the past attempt to repair their public image. Mr. Woods was caught by the public and seeks a way to rebuild character and regain credibility. The Christian only reports to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Natural man mistakenly believes that he reports only to himself for if he is not exposed publicly, he will continue to operate in his sin (2 Sam 12:1-8 –David, though a man after God’s own heart, acted as the natural man). While one (the Christian) is truly changed in the grace of God, the other (natural man) changes only as a means to an end–to best display integrity to people.

Once again, as with our previous exposition, you might ask what God’s grace has to do with “our daily bread.” Read and continue that thought.

I. The Bread Given (Verse 11a)

Again we find a demand we are making upon God. “Give” is the command. Jesus, in His prayer to the Father tells us to demand God give to us daily sustenance. This is not just normal bread though, this is the bread of life (Jn 6:35). This is bread that is born of God, this is a daily allotment of grace that ultimately provides for life everlasting (Jn 6:48). This is not simply daily bread on the table, but a daily provision of living grace from the Father of the universe. I submit to you ladies and gentlemen, this bread is the grace of God for life here and salvation eternal. I believe this to be true for a number of reasons. Drummelow writes:

“We are not taught to pray for the bread for many days, but for one day, God thereby reminding us of our continual dependence upon Him. Nor are we taught to pray for luxuries, but for bread, i.e, for necessary food, shelter, clothing, and health. We pray also for bread for our souls, i.e., the grace to confess our sins and to receive God’s pardon, and to persevere, and to know God. But chiefly we pray that we may feed daily by faith on Jesus Christ, who is our true daily bread, and may be worthy partakers of the bread of blessing which makes us one of Him, and Him one with us, and which was to the first Christians literally their daily bread (Acts 2:46).”[2]

First, we go back again to the central theme throughout the Sermon on the Mount which is that man’s heart needs to be changed, it needs to get right with God. Again, we consider the first Beatitude and find a person needs to be empty, beggarly in spirit. This individual has come to the end of their proverbial rope. He is in desperate straits concerning his soul. Next, we see this individual mourning, pouring out their heart to God. This individual knows nowhere else to go except to the great God of all the ages. They seek God for comfort which is promised in 5:4 (sermon on this text here). The recognition of this state, the complete separation from a perfect God, creates a hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is opposed to the hunger and thirsting of the natural man for the worldly things such as success, money, the latest fashions or the most expensive toys. Yes, we could say the Christian seeks only to sustain the body, while the worldly seeks to overindulge with the finest foods, richest desserts and the most expensive steaks. The Christian also exhibits a complete change of heart, born from salvation after seeking and receiving the redemption of the soul, the forgiveness of sins, the release from torment. Therefore, Christians seek daily spiritual sustenance instead of the joy of filling our own individual emotions, passions and worldly desires. One is satisfied having received God’s grace. The other will never be satisfied and continues to seek more and more divergent emotional experiences. Here in this verse today, we find what the soul hungers and thirsts for righteousness. Matthew chapter 5 and verse 6 (sermon on this text here) promises this soul will be satisfied.

The bread that we seek in 6:11 is that sustenance for the whole Christian in both body and soul. It is not just food for the body but equally it is food for the spirit. If we do a search in scripture where the words “spirit” and “bread” are together there are two verses: 1 Samuel 30:12 and 1 Kings 21:5. In 1 Samuel, an Egyptian’s spirit is revived when he is given food because he had been without bread or drink for three days and nights. In the 1 Kings passage, we read about Ahab’s spirit being sad and Jezebel attributes it to lack of food. They seem to oppose one another. In one food revives the spirit, in the other a lack of appetite is blamed on the spirit. Is it food that feeds the spirit; or the spirit that encourages us to eat? The fact is, both are needed. Our bodies need physical sustenance, and our souls need spiritual provision. There are commentators that argue against the interpretation that is proposed here.[3] However, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, in their combined three-volume commentary, describe it as follows:

“…Among commentators, there was early shown an inclination to understand this as a prayer for the heavenly bread, or spiritual nourishment; and in this they have been followed by many superior expositors, even down to our own times. But as this is quite unnatural, so it deprives the Christian of one of the sweetest of his privileges–to cast his bodily wants in this short prayer, by one simple petition, upon his heavenly Father. No doubt the spiritual mind will, from “the meat that perisheth,” naturally rise in thought to “that meat which endureth to everlasting life.” But let it be enough that the petition about bodily wants irresistibly suggests a higher petition; and let us not rob ourselves–out of a morbid spirituality–of our one petition in this prayer for that bodily provision which the immediate sequel of this discourse…”[4]

The entire sermon shows Israel how empty and inept her people’s spirit is. Therefore, the context supports a more eternal, spiritual and heart changing interpretation as we have indicated before. This interpretation is not reached through an attempt to make all of scripture some spiritual experience, but to look at the Sermon on the Mount as an integral message that is self evident inside the whole context of the book of Matthew. Equally, the Lord’s Prayer is given within this sermon as an example of how we can approach God confidently in prayer with that pure heart (Matt 5:8–sermon on this text here). The audience knows Moses and Abraham and their challenges to God. They also know they are unworthy of this position. Just as their forefathers requested Moses go before God in their stead (Ex 20:19), these Israelites would prefer not to confront God. They know where they stand. Jesus is telling them they can have a much closer and more rewarding relationship. They can demand that God would sustain them physically and spiritually by providing for their personal existence. God provided for Jesus for 40 days physically and spiritually. Jesus is telling us we too can realize the perfect provision of God if we are in a position to pray confidently to Him for all our needs, be it physical or spiritual.

Clearly then, this sermon’s interpretation departs from the more common literal interpretations of Broadus and Custer (above), Morris and Phillips among others.[5] Though Bloomberg would also lean more toward physical sustenance as the main emphasis, he does however at least admit,

“Christians therefore should pray daily for the next day’s provision of life’s essentials as they recognize that all sustenance for one’s life comes from God and that He makes no long-term future guarantees.”[6]

Some interpreters have attributed this “bread” to the manna in the wilderness, as though Jesus is reminding the Israelites of that provision. The bread in Matthew 6:11 is only akin to the manna in the wilderness in that it comes directly from God, it is pure and it can only be used for the intended purpose – to glorify God. In all other ways, it is different. Unlike the manna, it is not for the body as much as it is for the soul. The body benefits from a purified soul, just as the soul benefits from a purified body (compare 1 Sam 30:12 and 1 Kings 21:5). However, the primary focus of this sustenance is our eternal soul, not the body. Equally, God does not place this bread on the ground and tell us to gather this daily and in what amounts we will gather it. God told Paul, “my grace is sufficient for thee,” indicating that God determines how much He gives and when. Paul was satisfied with what God gave Him spiritually and physically for his existence. We should never confuse this with the indwelling Holy Spirit received at regeneration (salvation). Where one is given regularly (grace for sustenance), the other is received completely and all at once (the Holy Spirit). God’s grace is given to us each day as, “by Him all things consist (hold together).” Also we find in Hebrews 1:3 that God upholds everything “by the word of His power.” These are great and glaring differences, therefore, between this sustenance, this bread of life and the bread of life given to the Israelites in the wilderness.

Another difference is that part of this bread (grace) is given to all mankind. Any provision, any life, any existence we have either physically or spiritually is by the grace of God and through His specific sustenance (Col 1:17).

We have the provision of salvation as well. We are saved by grace through faith. In Romans 4:16, we read that it is not only through the law, and through the seed of Abraham, but that God is the father of all. In Romans 4:24, we further understand that this grace was not given to us through Abraham only for the Jew, but also for the Gentile through Christ Jesus whom God raised from the dead. This is the grace of salvation and God continues to provide for it daily as men and women find Christ and accept His gift. They are continually provided for, being given the bread of life (Jn 6:48). Romans 5:15 tells us of this free-gift (salvation), given to us through the grace of God is Jesus Christ the bread of life. Christ gave himself for the sins of the whole world. This very grace, provision or bread of life is for all mankind. Every man, woman and child has access to the bread of life which is salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. That is how generous God is with His grace. Just as Christ was given to the whole world, God has graciously introduced himself and His salvation for man through His creation and His revelation.

This grace, this gift, the bread of life is also purely the activity of God without personal merit (Rom 11:6). This has to be an equal part of the daily bread discussed in our passage. It is bread for the soul as well as bread for the body that Jesus indicates we need to receive from God the Father – daily. This grace, given to us, this sustenance provided for our body and souls, the pure light that gives life and our very physical existence is the grace of God. Eternal existence is given by His grace to all who believe. Equally, this is bread for our bodies that is provided daily for our physical needs of every living creature. I believe we find both here.

Do you see? Have you found and can you submit to the initial grace of God to receive His sustenance? The sinner who has sought Christ certainly has. Through His grace, God gave the Christian the opportunity to be redeemed and capable of standing in the presence of God. The Christian has partaken of the bread of life, and thanks God daily for both the physical and spiritual provision of life sustaining grace. The difference between the Christian and the natural man is that the Christian has accepted this grace, sought God for more and received salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ. The natural man simply receives what all of creation receives.

If you have not received Christ as your personal Savior, you stand with every other lost human being on this planet today, yesterday and tomorrow. You will stand among them and be judged with them by God for not seeking further grace. What is that further grace you ask?  It is accepting the atonement of the blood of Christ shed on the cross to redeem your soul. This is the grace of Christ. From that point on you are a Christian. Until you truly bow, submit and give your soul to Christ, you will only receive the sustaining grace God gives every living creature in His creation. If you accept the salvation of His Son, you receive the bread of life. That is food for the soul to live eternally with God.

Just as the bread was given for the heart and soul of man, it is received only there. Man’s heart is changed through this food. The pure spiritual bread of God has one more glaring difference from the manna God gave the Israelites in the wilderness.

II. The Bread Received (Verse 11b)

When we look at the grace given by God, we should note that it is given both to those who are unsaved (chiefly the discussion of the last paragraphs above), and to those who know Christ (2 Cor 12:9). The bread of God received then through the manifold grace of God first sustains the unsaved just as it does for all God’s creation. We could ask, Does not rain fall upon the unsaved man’s crops equally with those who know Christ? Secondly, it sustains the Christian in this temporal world and will sustain him throughout eternity.

In this part of scripture, and that which follows, we see God’s specific activity upon the believer. Where in the two previous verses we considered God’s activity and His kingdom, now we turn our attention to the believer and our temporal and spiritual existence.

What is given then, or what man receives from God, cannot simply be bread alone. We are commanding God give bread daily and as a kingdom saint, we should recognize that this is both bread for our bodies and the bread of life for our souls. Man is not to live upon bread (physical sustenance) alone, but by the very word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (spiritual food from God’s word–Job 23:12; Matt 4:4). Truly, this is rather a spiritualization of the passage. In the sense presented in this message though, it is driven by the context. We should seek God’s provision for everything in our lives.

We should note that one word in this sentence “give us this day our daily bread” is unique in all Greek literature. The word we see translated “daily” actually indicates “the next day.” It is a rare word which is contested in other Greek manuscripts, writings or historical documents.[7] The word then indicates we should be proactive in our prayers – we should seek God’s grace for tomorrow’s provision of life.

In the first century, bread was a staple of existence. It is not just something used as a filler at a meal, as it is today. I remember my mother continually telling me that I needed to eat some bread or noodles or something to fill me up else I would be back in just a few minutes for more food. We get many complex sugars or carbohydrates from breads and grains. Complex carbohydrates provide longer lasting energy sources for our body in the physical world. Equally, the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God provides eternal life-sustaining strength to the soul of the believer. Our soul feeds upon this food. The more we meditate upon it, the longer our soul is sustained in this temporal world. Good bread also provides for the use of healthy muscles. The perfect word of God fed properly to our souls provides for strength beyond our physical existence. It takes us to the very throne of God. Jesus, here, is clearly indicating an equal portion of the sustaining power and provision of God for our body and soul.

Have you dug into the bread of life for the sustaining power of God in our soul and in your life? Do you regularly go before God, recognizing His provision for your complete existence? Do you just think that this prayer is for simple bread, or the complex and diverse bread that is the Savior as well as his great grace in physical existence? With one thought, God can bring you home. If He does so, will you find that the bread of life that you have ingested is suitable to sustain you in Heaven? Will God ask you why you did not feast at His table of the Word of God more frequently?

Christian, when you take your daily bread do you just eat without thought to the grace given in the provision? Equally, when you read the word daily, do you take for granted the opulent feast laid before you? You had better give thanks and seek both for survival.

Unbeliever, do you simply think this a request for bread? You do not know what real bread is if you think this is that simple. Life here on Earth is short and not always flavorful. Man lives eternally on the bread of life. Unbeliever, you need some.

[1] Stewart Custer, The Gospel of the King: A Commentary on Matthew (Greenville: BJU Press, 2005), 96.

[2] J. R. Drummelow, A Commentary on the Whole Bible, a One Volume Bible Commentary (Norwood Press, Norwood Mass. 1909), p647.

[3] John A. Broadus, Commentary on Matthew, (Kregel: Grand Rapids, 1990), 135.

[4] Jamieson Robert, Fausset, A. R., Brown, David. A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, Vol III. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Pub Co., 1973), 40.

[5] Where Broadus is referenced above, we should note that Phillips, Walvoord, Blomberg, Phillips, Custer and Morris take a more literal interpretation as well. However, we should note that no current spiritual interpretation matches what is argued here either. Most spiritualization’s have identified Matthew 6:11 as a reference to Holy Communion or in the case of Augustine, “the invisible Bread of the Word of God” (Augustine p. 42–taken from Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew p 146.). Yet, others claim this a reference to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. None of these spiritualization’s are accurate. The argument in this sermon is simple – God’s provision is not limited to the physical. Nor is it isolated to the spiritual, but God provides completely through His grace as He deems sufficient to do so. Clark equally leans more toward the temporal provision of food.

[6] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, The New American Commentary, New International Version, Broadman: Nashville, 1992, 119.

[7] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1992), 146. Here see footnote on epiousios. Morris quotes Chrysostom “What is daily bread?…That for one day” Chrysostom writes, “so that we may not, beyond this, wear ourselves out with care of the following day.”