Our Daily Bread
23 May 2009, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
OUR DAILY BREAD
The cry in many parts of the world today is to 'Give us this day our daily bread'. Throughout history there have been millions who have lived and died without having once experienced enough food to satisfy their hunger.
In Lamentations 1: 11 (NIV), the weeping prophet, in speaking through his tears for the nation of Judah, says, 'All her people groan, as they search for bread…'
Who can hear the cry for bread and not be touched?
For those that lived through the 'Great Depression' of the 1930s the cry for bread was to be seen in the long queues of people in the soup lines as they waited to be fed. Without this provision many would not have survived those dark, dark days that were to impact on all levels of western society.
However, the issue of not enough bread is often seen as less tragic than when men suffer from fullness of bread. The prophet in Ezekiel 16: 49 says: 'Behold, this was the iniquity of…Sodom, fullness of bread,…neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.'
There is a common danger to be found in both these extremes. It is difficult to think of spiritual bread when the body is starving, yet when one suffers from fullness of bread he often refuses to think of his spiritual needs (Campbell, 1972: 49).
It needs to be recognised that while physical bread is important it should be balanced with the spiritual. In replying to the great tempter, Jesus, in Matt 4: 4 says: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'
To live in full holistic health we need to have both. Not only 'temporal bread', but also the spiritual bread that John 6: 38 says '…came down from heaven.'
If God loved us enough to give us the 'living bread', it is fair to suggest that He would not forget our daily temporal needs. Paul, in Romans 8: 32, makes that abundantly clear when he writes to the Christians in the city of Rome. He says to them that 'God didn't spare his own Son but handed him over [to death] for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him.' (God's Word Translation) In the words of another translation, 'If He spared not His own Son, how shall He not also freely give us all things?'
In Jesus' model prayer He taught men to pray for temporal bread so we know that God would not withhold this promise from us. He also has us pray for spiritual bread and this promise is given in Matt 5: 6 when Jesus says that: 'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they will be filled.'
However, it takes some effort to provide either of these forms of nourishment. Jesus likened Himself to a kernel of wheat that when planted dies, grows, and is finally garnered by cutting and flailing. To prepare it as food, it needs to be ground, made into dough, kneaded, baked and then broken into fragments suitable for eating. This is a description of both temporal and spiritual bread.
Keeping this idea in mind, the Lord's Supper should take on new meaning for us as Jesus was not only tempted, but He was tried, and broken for us.
Paul says in 1 Cor 11: 23, 24 that 'The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.'
That broken bread, physical or spiritual should always remind us of the Giver. As such, every meal is believed to become a sacrament. Author Ellen White in her book 'The Desire of Ages' p. 660 makes this suggestion when she says that 'The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf…All this Christ has taught in anointing the emblems of His great sacrifice. The light shining from that Communion service in the upper chamber makes sacred the provisions for our daily life. The family board becomes as a table of the Lord and every meal a sacrament.'
Mankind has been given a second opportunity to come into one accord with heaven and the strength that is needed to take this on board is offered through the 'living bread'. This special privilege was made possible by the death of Jesus and this is commemorated around the Lord's Table.
Amos 8: 11 tells us that a famine is coming but we are assured that we need not have any lack. However, these promises are conditional on whether we have let loose the bands of sin that surround us and broken every yoke. We also need to give both temporal and spiritual bread to the hungry before we can enter into the full joy of our Lord. Let me tell you that the Lord has a place in His kingdom for those who share their bread with others.
Jesus in Matt 25: 24-40 says: 'Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and ye gave me meat… He goes on to say, 'Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'
It is important that we learn not to hoard the 'Living Bread' but to pass it on to others. We are told in Eccl 11: 1 to 'Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.' One of the important pleasures in eating is sharing. The good and gracious host plans desirable food for the table and then eats with his guests when they arrive. Thus, he becomes their companion, and, interestingly enough, when the word 'companion' is defined, it means 'to share'. There will always be enough if we learn to share. The lad who gave his five loaves and two fishes to feed five thousand discovered that the supply was limited only by the need.
It is within this context that we find a deeper meaning in the symbols of the broken body and the spilled blood of Jesus. Today as we take part we need to recognise that the 'Living Bread' is for us and any feelings of unworthiness that we have become our recommendation to God.
As one writer says, 'Without bread, there is no feast, with bread, there need be no famine' (Richards, 2004: 111).
'The Lord's Supper - the feast of commemoration, the feast of communion and love, represents all this (1Cor. 10: 16,17). As believers we eat and drink of Christ's bounty (Isa. 55: 1,2). We taste of the Lord's goodness (Ps 34: 8). We sit down as guests at His banqueting house (Song of Sol. 2:4). We are 'abundantly satisfied' with the good things of the Lord's house while we drink of the river of …[His] pleasures' (Ps 36: 8) (Ibid). And we do this until He comes again.
Let us recognise this morning the importance of forgiveness and the opportunity we have to rid ourselves of pride as we move into the preparatory service. Let us now break for the 'lesser baptism', the washing of the feet.
Dear friends, this morning we have taken part in this wonderful service that reminds us of Jesus' death on Calvary. By His sacrifice He became the bread of life for us - our daily bread. We are told that once we have tasted the true bread we should have no more desire for the things of this world. We will always pray as suggested in John 6: 34, 'Lord, evermore give us this bread. We serve a wonderful Saviour and it is my prayer this morning that we never lose the hunger for this bread that our Lord has so willingly given to us all.
Campbell, P. O. (1972) The Water and the Spirit. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
Richards, H.M.S. (2004) 'The Promises of God'. Hagerstown: Review & Herald Publishing Co.
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