Point of Reference
by Fred Price
When asked to teach his disciples how to pray ( Luke 11:1), Jesus modeled a prayer that was both practical and far-reaching, powerful and effective. ( James 5:16) Last week we looked at some lofty aspects of what has come down to us as the Lord’s Prayer, this week we’ll start with “Give us our daily bread”; which seems pretty straightforward, but as with much else in scripture has a depth of meaning not perceived at first.1
The Greek word epiousion is translated here as daily bread, but could just as easily be rendered the food needed for existence. Bread being emblematic of what we need to survive as well as the sustenance we need to thrive. Jesus reminding us that, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 Then warning us to, “…not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…” John 6:27 He then claiming to be that, “…bread of life.” John 6:35 That which satisfies our hungering and thirsting for righteousness. ( Matthew 5:6)
Next would be, “Forgive… as we forgive” The Greek word for forgive – aphiemi – means to let go, release or send away. It does not excuse sin, eliminate its consequences and may not effect reconciliation; through it can and should. But while God’s forgiveness and reconciliation is sure, it is dependent on our repentance of sin accompanied by a change of our hearts and minds. (See 1 John 1:9) Forgiveness between individuals, on the other hand, is more a process – a choice; Jesus linking our forgiveness with our willingness to forgive. ( Matthew 6:14,15)
Forgiveness and redemption are scripturally seen as two sides of the same coin. Redemption was originally used to signify the paying of a debt – someone else’s debt. The one doing so becoming the debtor’s redeemer. This practice came to represent the debt we owe God through sins of omission and/or commission; and the redemption made possible by Jesus sacrifice on the cross. The old gospel song summing it up nicely when it says, “He paid a debt he did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay.”2
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” (or the evil one) speaks to the human condition of temptation. We’re all tempted by selfishness – to get what we want when we want it – regardless of long-term consequences or the needs of those around us. The devil knows this and uses that inclination to sin to tempt us to do just that; while just as often we are careless or arrogant and place ourselves in harm’s way.
The somewhat perplexing aspect of this petition can be quickly solved when we realize it’s not “Lead us not into temptation” but “Lead us – not into temptation – but deliver us…” (A subtle but real difference in emphasis, comparing opposites as a means of highlighting the positive.) God tempts no one. ( James 1:13) He does, if allowed, guide us in the ways of righteousness. ( Psalm 23:3) In fact, the Greek word for deliver us corresponds to the English word for rush; as in rush to save, rescue and snatch away from evil.
The final proclamation in this prayer may have been added as a doxology by early Christians, as it is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. But the ideal has been accepted, repeated and depended on for centuries. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” It’s almost a pledge of allegiance to His kingdom, an acknowledgement that He is in control – which means we are not. In attributing power to God (the Greek word for power being dynamos – dynamite) we proclaim Him as the power by which all things were created and exist and that God is the rightful authority over all thigs.
Last, but not least, is the glory of God; the reputation, splendor and majesty of His being. Our role is in reflecting and magnifying that glory. Our lives and voices mirroring the Psalmist, who wrote “…ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2
1From Adam Hamilton’s The Lord’s Prayer – The Meaning and Power of the Prayer Jesus Taught ; Abingdon Publishing
2 He Paid A Debt , Ellis J. Crum, Ellis J. Crum, Publisher
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Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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