Monday, January 18, 2016


During my visits to relatives in the Czech Republic, someone in the family left the house early every morning before breakfast to bicycle to the neighborhood bakery. They returned with exactly the number of still warm, freshly baked, large, round, fragrant loaves of rye bread the “Babicka” (grandmother) of the home ordered to provide for her family and any guests or relatives expected that day. No more—no less.

And all the bread that came through the door that morning was consumed that same day. Baked without preservatives, the next morning she would not consider serving yesterday's bread, the leftovers. It would have become hard and stale, inedible. Perhaps it would be fed to the chickens. Nothing rivaled the fresh bread we consumed at breakfast, still warm, spread with home churned butter and preserves from their own orchard. It was always accompanied by freshly ground and brewed coffee with heavy cream from their own cows.

I got so fond of eating that bread that the morning I left for my flight home, my relatives bought me a fresh one, packaged it up, and I carried it as hand luggage on board...the fragrance permeated the plane. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived home, the loaf was as hard as a rock!

It is the same custom in the Land of the Bible. Fresh bread is expected daily. In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples, He told them to ask our Father who is in Heaven, “Give us this day our daily bread...” (Matthew 6:11). It is a petition with a double emphasis: “this day” and “daily” bread, to be sure we get the point. It was a reference to whatever describes our current day's needs, not only for food but whatever is needed to sustain us in any culture. Equally it pertains to Himself, since Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life that came down from Heaven.” A flashback to God's provision for the Israelites in their wandering through the wilderness toward the promised land. That bread (or manna) divinely provided had to be gathered daily—not too much, not extra in case of lack tomorrow because it would spoil by the next day. It was meant to be used up “this day” and “daily.”

It made me wonder whether the miraculous multiplication of the loaves to the multitude by Jesus might not have been a double miracle. The multitude had already been with Jesus attentively listening to His life-giving words for three days (Matthew 15). I'm trying to get my mind around the logistics of that! If the people had initially brought bread with them, they would already have consumed it all, since they probably had no intention of being away from their homes so long. (The "bread" they would have brought would not have been the large loaves my Czech relatives relished, but probably small bun-like loaves or small flat breads. And doubtless the fish were more like sardine-size.

It was obvious that the people would have been nearly starving and in danger of fainting. The disciples had obviously taken a survey of what was available and came back to report to Jesus that all that remained was the remnants of one young boy's lunch, which for some reason he had not finished. Perhaps his mom had been overly generous when she slipped it into his lunch bag. By now what he offered Jesus would probably have been hard and stale.

Do you think that when Jesus multiplied the boy's bread, He multiplied it into more stale bread? Wouldn't you suppose that He multiplied the bread fresh and fragrant for the people? Surely two miracles would not have been too many. Would not the bread Jesus multiplied have been the best both in quantity and fresh quality?

I'm still pondering why Jesus insisted on the disciples gathering and conserving the leftovers which were many. What did He want done with the leftover baskets full? Did He perform still a third miracle to divinely preserve the leftover bread fresh as Wonder Bread and other brands that use additives to retard spoilage? I am only speculating and will wait to ask for an explanation directly from Jesus someday in Heaven.

The point is, however, that Jesus instructed us to pray each day for the provision of “this day” our “daily” bread, for the supply of our various current needs of sustenance and of Himself. He makes available to us everything that we need for our present moment, for today. What He gives us is ample, abundant, and generous and meant to be used up this very day. His marvelous grace is available for today. Tomorrow He wants us to repeat our prayer because there is a bountiful, sufficient supply waiting for us tomorrow and the next day—always available daily and not in advance! He wants us to trust Him without seeing the provision for tomorrow. 

Do I trust Him in this way?


A fresh touch from You
I long for it, Lord!
My spirit grows stale
since I'm so fond of trying to eat
yesterday's bread or
spiritual glazed donuts
and junk food.

Each day I need to taste
fresh Bread of Life
prepared by Your hands
in the early morning
baked upon a charcoal fire
as You provided breakfast
fish and bread generously spread
for those who followed You
beside the Sea of Tiberius.

Give me this day my daily bread
Homemade Bread of Your Word
prepared by nail-pierced hands
kindling love in me
while I am fed.

Since I belong to You
I cannot live on instant food
no, cannot walk or work
sustained by man's baked goods alone
even if freshened in a microwave oven.
I must have Your wholesome Word
delivered fresh each day
from Your heart to mine.
Only that will nourish me.

“When they got out upon the land, they saw a charcoal fire 
already laid,
a fish placed on it and bread...
and Jesus said to them,
'Come and have breakfast.'” (John 21:9, 12)

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