Fr. Dale Matson
In our Lectionary Gospel Lesson for Wednesday in the third week of Easter Christ states, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35, NASB). “Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:49-51)
What is our daily bread? In Luther’s catechism speaking on our Lord’s Prayer, Luther defines it thus:
What is meant by daily bread?--Answer. Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
I believe it is here that Luther misunderstands what Jesus is teaching us in the Lord’s Prayer by understanding our daily bread as support for the body. That is the kingdom of this world. Luther is interpreting our daily bread in the sense of the Old Testament wilderness experience of the manna God provided daily for sustenance for the Israelites. That is not however what Christ is referring to.
In Matthew chapter 6, Christ provides both His prayer and the context for understanding our daily bread. Following his presentation of the prayer (6:9-13), He then discusses the unnecessary and material concerns of the world in verses 19-32. “So, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. These are the material concerns that Luther incorrectly refers to as our daily bread. In verse 6:33 Christ states, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The daily bread Christ is referring to is the daily bread required for sustenance in the Kingdom of God. He is referring to Himself.
“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." (John 6:57-58).
My brothers and sisters, there is no purer gospel than this. Christ has brought us back into the Garden of Eden. We again may partake of the tree of life. He continues to feed His people the church with His body and blood and has done so for two thousand years. In the Eucharist, we are given the bread with these words spoken, “The body of Christ; the bread of heaven.” When we are given the chalice, we are told, “The blood of Christ; the cup of salvation.” In Him we have eternal life and in Him we are more than conquerors. Just as Yahweh provided daily manna in the wilderness to the Israelites, Christ offers himself as our bread daily in the Kingdom of God. Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Amen