Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Brian McLaren pointed out that this statement evokes the idea of Moses and Isrealites, hundreds of years before Jesus. God rained down his bread, called manna. And they were not allowed to save or stock pile it. Each day they could only gather as much as they would eat in that one day.
In asking God for daily bread, Jesus seems to be saying that he, like the Isrealites who followed Moses, wants only enough bread for that one day.
I found myself pondering this. What’s so important about the whole thing of receiving bread from God each day?
The answer that immediately comes to mind is trust. It’s all about trust.
But there’s a pretty wide array of things that I mean by trust, of ways that this plays out.
One aspect is that it requires us to trust every single day. If the Isrealites, or Jesus, or us, received a big huge truck delivery of bread, enough bread for the whole year, then we would be able to live off this for quite some time. Faith would not become a habbit. It would be a thing that is only necessary occasionally.
Secondly, receiving daily bread requires trusting that God won’t change. This is an incredibly hard thing to do. So many of our models of how to deal with God are based on how we deal with other people.
And people change. We have a good thing going with somebody, and we have this desire to want to hoard it, out of the fear that the good thing won’t last. To accept enough to only get ourselves through each day is to say, “I trust that you will not change, and that this arrangement will keep going as long as I need it to.”
Thirdly, accepting my daily bread from God each day is important because it reminds me of where all good things come from. It is tempting for me to try to draw a distinction between myself and Moses. There is a part of me that wants to say that I am different from Jesus’ followers.
“After all” I want to say “God never fed me that way; It’s not like I’ve ever seen manna rain down from the sky. It’s not like I’ve ever watched a few loaves of bread mutliply into thousands.”
And yet? I eat every day. And everything that gives me this ability to eat comes from God: the hands that bring it to my mouth, the teeth that chew it up, the abilities that allow me to earn the money I buy it with, the systems which make food so available in our culture… All these things come from God.
And so the real queston becomes: Is there any difference? Is there any difference between my life and the life of the Isrealites. Carefully considering the matter leaves me with the realization that in every important way, God has rained down manna into my life, too.
Maybe the most important aspect of trust related to accepting my daily bread is built around Jesus’ miracle of the fishes and loaves. Both times that Jesus multiplied this food, he did not summon it out of the air.
He certainly could have. The whole universe had been made through Jesus. I’m pretty sure he could have managed a couple footlongs ex nihilo.
But he began with the daily bread that was already there. The meager crumbs, the daily bread, if you will, that was already among them, this was the seed for the feeding of thousands.
Trusting that our daily bread is enough is about knowing that what little we have is all that we need. Even when we look out and see an ocean of bodies, when we are doing God’s will, whatever we bring, if we bring it in the right heart, it will be enough.