Thursday, August 18, 2005

Give Us Today the Bread of Tomorrow

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
No doubt, you will recognize this verse from the Lord’s Prayer. But I think it may be greatly misunderstood. Most Christians think of it as a request for God to take care of the little everyday necessities of life. For example, The Message has it as beggarly “Keep us alive with three square meals.”

There must be more to it than that. Just a few verses down, in Matthew 6:33 (another often-quoted verse) Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

This is in response to the questions, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What clothes shall we wear?” God has already promised these to us. So the way to get our daily needs met is to seek God’s kingdom, and these things will follow as a matter of course. We don’t have to ask for them, we just need to believe God’s promise for them.

So what does “Give us this day our daily bread” mean? Let’s look at the word “daily” for a moment. The Greek word is epiousios. It is found only twice in the Bible — in Matthew's and Luke's versions of the Lord’s Prayer. Many Bible commentators believe that it actually means “for the morrow.” This is supported by the translation of a related word, epiouse, as “the next day” in Acts 7.26 and 16.11. The “daily bread” is not the bread of today but the bread of tomorrow.

So what is the “bread of tomorrow?”

To understand that, we must recognize that the Lord’s Prayer is a kingdom prayer. It comes in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). On the other side of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God.” And in the middle of the prayer itself, right before the part about “daily bread,” is this powerful petition, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

You see, it’s all about the kingdom of God. This kingdom is not primarily about a place but about an authority — the rule and reign of God. And it is about the coming age that is breaking forth into this present one.

The prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” is actually set in the imperative mood. That is, it’s a command: “Kingdom of God, come! Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven!” This may seem startling, but Jesus actually gives us the authority to call forth the kingdom and will of God upon the earth.By this prayer, we are actually calling forth the reality of the next age — the age when God’s kingdom and will are fully in manifestation on earth just as they are in heaven — into this present one.

Then comes the next line, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is the bread of “the next day,” or “tomorrow.” Young’s Literal Translation calls it “our appointed bread.” It is the portion that belongs to us in the kingdom age.

The kingdom of God — His rule and reign — has been breaking into this present age ever since Jesus came, and it will continue to come until it is completely fulfilled. Our part is to pray and command it to come, just as Jesus taught us.

We no longer belong to this present age. We may be in it, but we are not of it. Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to it, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are kingdom people, and we require the provision of the kingdom. The resources of this present age simply will not do. We need the provision and power of the next age in order to see the kingdom come into this one. We need the bread of tomorrow — today!

Give us today the bread of that coming day, the provision and power of God’s kingdom. Amen.