Title: Give Us Today Our Daily Bread _ The Lord’s Prayer Sermon Series, Week 7
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Good morning. May you feel deeply that God loves you and guides you as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
Last Sunday, we explored the fourth line of the Lord’s Prayer. I said, “When it comes to God’s will, we always should be able to check to see whether or not God’s will we discern reflects God’s desire to love. Today, we are thinking about the fifth line, “Give us this day our daily bread.” As we do every Sunday, let us start by taking ten seconds to see what images or thoughts come to our mind about that line.
First of all, the word which stands out the most from the fifth line is “bread.” Everyone needs something to eat every day. Let’s see what bread people all over the world eat for breakfast. Some people eat a baguette, some tortilla, some pita bread, some ciabatta, some bagel, some naan, some steamed rice or noodle soup rather than bread, or some biscuits with gravy which is now one of my favorites. But, as we know, not all people can easily earn their daily bread. Some people still experience hunger frequently. And some people even starve to death. Have you been famished? Actually, my generation has been enjoying the prosperity that the generations before us achieved. So, I don’t know well about what hunger is. I only experienced inconvenience when I served in the army seventeen years ago because not always I could eat what I wanted. That’s all. But, because my grandparents suffered the ravages of the Korean War, and my parents were born at the end of the war, they experienced poverty and hunger. There are still countless people who are suffering from extreme poverty and starvation. Anyone who has experienced or has been experiencing hunger cannot help but pray for their daily bread desperately. For some people, the fifth line of the Lord’s Prayer might not be a noticeable one while, for some, it is the most important prayer in their lives.
Then, is all we need just bread in our daily lives? We also need emotional support. We all need friends who can listen to us and empathize or sympathize with us. Many people experience depression which is usually mild but sometimes severe. We do not always know what causes depression. But, according to researchers, there are several common causes: genetics, brain chemistry imbalance, poor nutrition, stressful life events, grief and loss, etc. Obtaining appropriate professional treatment is important. But, we can also support each other in times of difficulty. “[T]hat feeling [helpless and alone] can be overcome by the empathy and compassion of others.” So, that we pray, “Give us our daily bread,” means that we also desperately want to be supported emotionally.
What else do we need in our lives? We need wisdom. Interestingly, the Aramaic word which is translated as bread is derived from a more basic word which means wisdom. We need wisdom from God. In other words, we need God’s guidance and help so that we can realize what God’s will is and obey it moment by moment. This is connected to the previous line that we dealt with last Sunday. The wisdom from God is not just knowledge. It is God’s power that can help us to live out God’s will which is to love God and our neighbors. So, when we pray, “Give us our daily bread,” we are praying that God gives us the strength to be a blessing to our neighbors.
In summary, that we ask for our daily bread means that we ask God to satisfy our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We believe that God will answer our prayer. God knows what we need and will supply all our needs. But, surprisingly enough, God’s answer is not always “I’ll meet all your needs.” Today’s reading which is well-known for a story of Jesus feeding the five thousand shows us another answer. One day, the crowds were following Jesus to listen to him and to be healed. But it started to get dark, and the disciples of Jesus wanted to dismiss the people so that they could feed themselves. But, just then, Jesus said something odd. Let me reread verses 15 and 16: “As evening approached, the disciples came to [Jesus] and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” What? We need to give them food? The disciples might have been puzzled. Anyway, even though today’s text doesn’t show, we know how the story goes. As we see in John chapter 6, a boy brought five small barley loaves and two small fish to some of the disciples and Jesus fed the crowds with them.
At this point, let’s talk about two different interpretations on this miracle briefly. One is that Jesus performed a miracle, so fish and bread were created continually in the baskets that Jesus and the disciples held while they were distributing them among the crowds. I believe that such a miracle could come to pass. But, here is the other interpretation with which you might already be familiar. Even though the Bible doesn’t say about this, we can imagine that some of the crowds brought something to eat with them like the boy. But, they didn’t want to share food with others willingly. But, just then, a boy was willing to start sharing his food. His action moved the people’s heart. So, they also began to share their foods with the people sitting next to them. In the end, “[t]hey all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Matt. 14:20). In another sense, this is also a miracle, not the miracle happening in the fish and bread basket that Jesus was holding but the miracle happening in people’s heart and action.
Let’s rethink about the fifth line of the Lord’s prayer in light of this latter interpretation. When the disciples reminded Jesus that the crowds needed something to eat, Jesus replied, “You give them something to eat.” What Jesus said touched a boy’s heart, so he willingly shared his food. Then, it touched the heart of the others who also brought something to eat, so they began to share their foods as well. God will answer our prayer for our daily bread. God will supply people’s all needs. But what we need to remember is that God will do so through those who are willing to supply each other’s needs. God will comfort people through those who are willing to comfort each other. God will give people strength to obey God’s will through those who are willing to encourage and inspire each other to obey it. Therefore, the fifth line of the Lord’s Prayer challenges us this way: You, be a blessing to somebody. You, satisfy someone’s need. Does someone need something to eat? You, feed them. Does someone need empathy? You, empathize with them. Does someone need inspiration and encouragement to live out God’s will? You, be an example of fulfilling God’s will. When we do so, they all will eat and will be satisfied, and we will pick up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that are left over.
Today is World Communion Sunday on which we are invited to remember that people all over the world are interconnected in God’s love. The different types of bread placed on the communion table remind us of it. Various languages that we spoke at the beginning of worship today remind us of it. Though we are living here in Burlington, New Strawn, or Gridley, an imaginative power that God gives to human beings helps us to be aware that we are all interdependent. Imagination helps us not only love our neighbors near us but also love our neighbors even far away from us. Imagination helps us to empathize and sympathize not only with those who are similar to us but also with those who are different from us. Imagination helps us to be willing to supply the needs of people not only in our community but also on the opposite side of the earth. It is to be reminded of it that we celebrate World Communion Sunday every year.
In short, when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are reminded not only that God satisfies our needs, but also we can satisfy others’ needs. So folks, why don’t we willingly support each other materially, emotionally and spiritually not tomorrow but today? Amen.