Today’s Lectio Divina: After Jesus returned, He walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took His place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus’ feet to see what He would do with them. He healed them. When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them. But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called His disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with Me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.” His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are You going to dig up enough food for a meal?” Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” “Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, He divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. After Jesus sent them away, He climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills. Matthew 15: 29-39 (MsgB)
I’ve been a fairly successful pastor for over 30 years, but sadly I never had the opportunity to study New Testament Greek on my own. So, over the years, I’ve had to rely upon other scholars to give me the behind-the-scenes look at the ancient Greek words used within the New Testament and how they translate, (or don’t translate!) into English.
One of the many examples where Greek scholars just can’t agree is Matthew 6: 11:
Give us today our daily bread. (NIV)
You see, the Greek word used here for our English word daily is epiousios. And the only two places this unique word appears in ancient Greek literature is here in Matthew and over in Luke 11: 1-4, the two places in Scripture we find The Lord’s Prayer. This makes it very hard for translators to find an exact meaning since the word is not found in other writings, leaving it hanging there without any other context. Over the centuries, most scholars have come to the conclusion that the word epiousios, when parceled into its base words, literally means “super-essential” or “necessary for life.”
So, with that in mind, Jesus is saying, pray this way…
Give us today, our super-essential, life-sustaining bread.
When you think about, when we add in these more descriptive words like super-essential or life-sustaining, The Prayer now takes on a much deeper meaning, don’t you think?
Now, we’re not just asking God for a ham-n-cheese sandwich so we can make it till dinner-time, but we’re asking our Loving Father for literally everything we need in this life; food, clothing, shelter, oxygen, loving relationships, good health, adequate provision, etc. so that we cannot only survive down here but thrive.
If you recall our conversation last time, you’ll remember that Jesus told His friends that He came to earth to fulfill the complete will of the Father.
I (Jesus) came down from heaven not to follow My own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent Me. This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to Me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what My Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who He is and what He does and then aligns with Him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time. John 6: 38-40 (MsgB)
So, it’s not surprising then, when we look at today’s passage from Matthew 15, to find Jesus having deep compassion on those around Him who are hungry and have no daily bread to feed themselves.
You see, Jesus of Nazareth isn’t just interested in saving souls, but caring for the complete person; body, mind, soul, and spirit. It’s never enough for the Master to teach a great sermon that addresses the poverty of our souls, then walk away, ignoring our poverty in earthly provisions. For Jesus, all of these earthly poverties must be addressed if He is to completely fulfill the perfect will of the Father.
So, take heart, my friends.
When we pray…
Give us this day our daily bread…
…we are asking our Loving Father to provide for every one of our super-essential, life-sustaining provisional needs in order for us to live fully into this day…
Amen and amen.
My Prayer: Jesus, it’s apparent from all You said and did that God, our Loving Father cares for everything in our lives and wants to be our Perfect Provider for every need. Forgive me when I fail to trust in Your complete provision, taking things into my own hands, acting as if You don’t care. Holy Spirit, indwell and empower me to live freely and lightly, knowing my Father in heaven sees all my needs and will care for me. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions To Ponder: How have I failed to trust God for all of my super-essential, life-sustaining needs? What might it look like for me to walk in a daily trust for daily provisions, and how might Jesus ask me, like He did His first-century disciples, to freely share my God-supplied provisions with others who are in need?
So, what is God speaking to you as you ponder on The Lord’s Prayer?
Over a period of four weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take you on a journey (12-sessions) we call Contemplating The Prayer: Pondering Anew The Prayer of Jesus. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read. Each session also ends with a few thoughts to ponder on. I look forward to hearing some of your insight as we journey together!
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!