January 30, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“This then is how you ought to pray, [begin by saying] ‘Father, our Father, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come and Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily portion of bread.” (Matthew 6.9-11)
One picture many of us are familiar with shows Jesus standing at the door waiting for an invitation to come in. Upon inspection, one can see the outline of the “light of the word” around the door. Its shape is a heart. Jesus gives light to the door of our heart. He seeks. He knocks. He inquires. We know that we generally do not receive anything unless we ask for it. Okay, I remember those times when someone said to me, “Okay, you asked for it” while not being able to remember what I asked for. It must have been “something I said” or “something I did.” Usually what they gave me was nothing I would have ever asked for. I think what they meant was that they were going to give me something they believed I deserved. We all recognize that it is most often nothing positive. How many of us think about “getting what we deserved” from God? More likely we are thinking about not getting, hoping more likely, what we deserve. The consequences of sin is death and separation from God. Imagine the huge weight Peter put on his heart when he lived out denying any relationship with Jesus. He didn’t do it just once or twice. Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster’s crow opened the door of his heart, mind and spirit to a weighty accountability. He bore it silently. He didn’t confess it to anyone. He closed off the door of his life and shuttered the windows of his soul. He stayed in the darkness of a corner praying his failure would not come to light. In some fashion, his lack of acceptance of the teaching of “I AM the resurrection and the life” was a benefit. Jesus was dead and now there would be no reason to divulge the source of his great sorrow. He could die with it because he couldn’t live with it. When the Marys returned from the empty tomb of Jesus and reported their finding to the disciples, Peter and John ran to see for themselves. We get the sense that Peter, the older, and John, the younger, had very different agendas. John, the beloved disciple, wanted very much to believe that Jesus was not dead. The love in his heart could not let go of “Jesus received what He did not deserve!” What of Peter? He loved Jesus, too, but his fear of being different from the world had become his stumbling block. What if Peter ran to the tomb not to celebrate the miracle of resurrection? What would the alternative be? Perhaps, if Jesus was alive, Peter would have to face the truth of his own failure to stay the course of faith. If Jesus was alive, Peter knew he deserved whatever Jesus would give to him for his lack of faith. His actions “asked for it.”
It was not what Peter got, however. Peter, like each one of us as mighty ones of God, was the recipient of grace and mercy. He did not receive what his sin had opened the door to. Instead, he received a do over [in golf it is called a mulligan]. Jesus “stood at the door” of Peter’s heart and knocked three times. Inquiring minds want to know. Jesus wanted Peter to know that He still believed in him. He knew the burden Peter bore. That burden had driven him back to the sea and a purposeless life. The water was supposed to bring comfort. Instead, it brought only a tempest of lostness, emptiness and depression. He was at the breaking point. Even though Jesus had appeared to him and the other disciples in the Upper Room, Peter had not made any effort toward reconciliation. He hadn’t said he was sorry. He hadn’t asked for forgiveness. He just wallowed in the empty boat of his life floundering in a direction he was not intended to go. He had no wind in his sails, no current to move him and no sense of true orientation. Perhaps the water looked enticing to him but not for life. He deserved what he had “asked for,” except he was giving it to himself. Such things were not what Jesus had promised. There in that moment recorded by John before Jesus was to ascend into Heaven, the words of the Lord’s prayer were implemented. Before anything else could be done, Peter who was empty, had to be filled. Who can think correctly and act appropriately on an empty stomach? What did Jesus say? When you pray, ask the Father and He will give to you what is needed: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus not only gave Peter bread but fish, too. The word of God is like that. It just doesn’t give us something. It fills us full because it is fulfilling. Whether manna from heaven or fish from the sea, our “daily bread” is the very word of God which strengthens us in body, mind and spirit. God will give us exactly what we need even when we feel we least deserve it.
Remember that picture I mentioned at the start? It reflects the words of Jesus who said “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and break bread with them.” (Revelation 3.20) We even have a foreshadowing of that passage in the resurrection stories of Jesus. There on the Emmaus Road, Jesus appeared to Cleopas and his wife. They were also filled with sorrow and skepticism concerning the death and possible resurrection of Jesus. They carried it with them to their home in Emmaus. Their kindness was extended to this stranger and they invited Him into for a meal and to freshen up from the journey. He had encouraged them and they returned His good work with one of their own: hospitality. They sat down and “broke bread” with this stranger. Suddenly, He wasn’t a stranger any longer. He took bread and blessed it and broke it. It bore the weight of remembrance of the Passover and what the disciples had already disclosed as what happened on the night when Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Their eyes were open to the daily bread they longed for. In fact, what was an “evening meal” would have been the first meal of a new day. In Jewish tradition, the day began at sundown. They had received the promised bread of life. It energized them to “go and tell” the disciples what they had seen and experienced. It gave them meaning, purpose and a hope that would endure. Behold, mighty ones of God, He stands at the door of our hearts knocking. Will we hear His voice and invite Him in and share in the bread of life, the Word of the Living God and be satisfied?
“Father, our Father, hallowed be Your Name; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done…ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” We thank You for the provision of Your Word, the true bread of life which came down from Heaven. Fill us up, Lord and restore us to wholeness in Jesus’ name. Amen.