When I was a young boy, I would often hear the Lord’s Prayer recited, and I noted the request humans are to have of God: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-13 Matthew 6:9-13 9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×). Food was important to me as a growing teenage boy.It is important to us all because it nourishes us and is necessary for life.
When Jesus said to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” there is both the physical and the spiritual intent of that prayer. We cannot live without physical food for nourishment and we also cannot live spiritually if we do not have Christ in our lives every day.
The word “bread” in the prayer struck a strong chord in my young mind because sometimes my mother would stay up late at night baking bread for our family. On those special nights, she would wait until we were all in bed. Dough requires a little time to rise before it is baked. One night, just about midnight, the fresh bread had just been baked and I came out of the bedroom. My mother cut me a slice of the best bread I have ever eaten with a pat of butter that melted right into it. Along with that hot slice came a cup of coffee. That was her reward to herself for a job well done. I do not think I ever missed getting up another night when she was going to bake bread. I could pretty well time the moment it came out of the oven since we had an old wood and coal burning stove and opening the doors or adding fuel made some noise. The bread needed just a little time to cool and then it was perfect. With fresh homemade bread, butter and a cup of coffee, life just did not have anything better to offer me at that time.
God uses memorable symbols
There are some themes in the Bible that God seems to have placed more emphasis on than others. He knows how our minds and our memories work. The theme of bread representing deeper concepts is used in a number of different ways in the Bible and the word has a number of meanings in scripture. When Jesus explained how to pray, He used the word to mean good physical and spiritual food and He was also conveying a deeper spiritual message about our daily bread. He used the word bread in reference to Himself when He said He was the “bread of life” (John 6:48 John 6:48I am that bread of life.
American King James Version×).
Bread in the Bible can also refer to a meal. It is used to describe something special as in the “bread of affliction” as well (1 Kings 22:27 1 Kings 22:27And say, Thus said the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.
American King James Version×). There is often much symbolism when bread is discussed in scripture.
When Israel left Egypt in haste, there was no time for the dough to rise for the daily bread they would usually bake. They ate unleavened bread at the beginning of their journey (Exodus 12:34 Exodus 12:34And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes on their shoulders.
American King James Version×). During the 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness, God supplied them with daily bread (Exodus 16:4 Exodus 16:4Then said the LORD to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
American King James Version×, 33). It was called “manna.” They were to eat it for a period of seven days during a season called the Days of Unleavened Bread by a statute that God gave them (Leviticus 23:6 Leviticus 23:6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
American King James Version×).
God did not originally intend to feed them manna every day for 40 years; He did not intend for Israel to wander in the dry and arid region of Sinai for 40 years. But because Israel continually defied God and disregarded His commandments, He was forced to punish them. His punishment was that nobody over the age of 20 would see the Promised Land and they would wander for 40 years until all those over that age would have died. During the trek,He would supply them with manna for each day even if they were not obedient to Him (Numbers 14:1-4 Numbers 14:1-4 1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said to them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And why has the LORD brought us to this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
American King James Version×; Numbers 14:27-34 Numbers 14:27-34 27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. 28 Say to them, As truly as I live, said the LORD, as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do to you: 29 Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me. 30 Doubtless you shall not come into the land, concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. 31 But your little ones, which you said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your prostitutions, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know my breach of promise.
American King James Version×).
The command to eat unleavened bread this first annual Holy Day, was designed by God to be an everlasting command that is still in force today, long after those 40 years in the wilderness. Each year the observation reinforced the understanding God wanted to relay: that they were to be a pure, clean, undefiled people among all the nations of the earth. They were to be “unleavened.” In this case leavened bread was likened to having sin present or being like all others in the world.
Continued symbolism in the New Testament and for us today
When the Father sent His Son Jesus to be our sacrifice and Savior, the meaning of the manna and the days God gave were symbolic of what God was doing. Jesus died on the 14 th of Nisan on the Passover Day the day before the start of the Days of Unleavened Bread. He was the pure undefiled Passover Lamb. Israel had gathered a pot of manna and kept it inside the Ark in the Temple. There was great significance placed on that. Since the Ark was a replica of the Ark that is before God’s throne in heaven, we can easily see that Christ was the symbolic manna of that heavenly Ark (Hebrews 8:5 Hebrews 8:5Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount.
American King James Version×, 9:4).
All sacrifices of grains that were brought before God during the period of time that the Levites were to be the acting priests, were to be unleavened (Leviticus 2:1-7 Leviticus 2:1-7 1 And when any will offer a meat offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense thereon:
2 And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take out of there his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it on the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet smell to the LORD:
3 And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.
4 And if you bring an oblation of a meat offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
5 And if your oblation be a meat offering baked in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.
6 You shall part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering.
7 And if your oblation be a meat offering baked in the frying pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
American King James Version×; Leviticus 2:11 Leviticus 2:11No meat offering, which you shall bring to the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for you shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.
American King James Version×). When we come before God in prayer, we are also “unleavened” through Jesus’ sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 6 Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×). Not all the members Paul wrote to in Corinth were acceptable to God – some were “puffed up” (1 Corinthians 4:18 1 Corinthians 4:18Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
American King James Version×). Paul likens the “old leaven” to malice and wickedness and being “unleavened” to sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×). The decisions and actions in our lives show whether we are living in a manner that pleases God or in a manner that embarrasses Him.
Jesus referred to Himself as the “living bread” for a reason (John 6:51 John 6:51I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
American King James Version×). All who wish to be saved must come to God through Jesus Christ. We are to symbolically eat His flesh and drink His blood whenever we take the Passover (Matthew 26:26-28 Matthew 26:26-28 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
American King James Version×). He said we are to symbolically eat His body that was broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:24 1 Corinthians 11:24And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×). Each year at the Passover, unleavened bread is taken as the symbol of His sacrifice for us along with a little wine that represents His blood that was shed for our sins and payment of the penalty of sin for us. We are to be as closely bound to Christ as if we were one (John 17:21-23 John 17:21-23 21 That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
American King James Version×). The bread represents His body, and a converted person understands that Christ dwells within him. We are to walk according to His example every day.
Ask God for your daily bread
When Jesus said to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” there is both the physical and the spiritual intent of that prayer. We cannot live without physical food for nourishment and we also cannot live spiritually if we do not have Christ in our lives every day. To be the pure and undefiled people of God we have become “unleavened” through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 15:3-7 John 15:3-7 3 Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you.
American King James Version×). Just as bread is the staple of our everyday lives, so too, Christ is intended to be the daily staple of our spiritual lives. The dual lesson of needing bread to live physically and needing Christ to live spiritually is reinforced by the lesson of the Passover.
Israel did not learn the lessons God had planned for them and were left to wander until God decided it was time to work with them again. For converted people, the precious and high cost of the spiritual bread does not give anyone the option of leaving salvation until later. We dare not turn away from the gift of Jesus Christ once we have accepted it. Christ will not die a second time for anyone (Hebrews 10:26-29 Hebrews 10:26-29 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace?
American King James Version×). Paul noted the words of Jesus on the night of His betrayal. Jesus said: “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24 1 Corinthians 11:24And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×).
I loved my mother’s bread. It tasted good, it was healthy and good for me and I have always been thankful for the good feeling of family that it gave. Jesus told a group of Jewish followers that they should never hunger or thirst if they took the bread that represented Him (John 6:32-35 John 6:32-35 32 Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.
34 Then said they to him, Lord, ever more give us this bread.
35 And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
American King James Version×). We are spiritually nourished with Christ in us just as we are physically nourished with good bread in us. His offering leads us to becoming part of the family of God (Galatians 3:26-28 Galatians 3:26-28 26 For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×). God’s gift satisfies and makes our life better (Matthew 11:28-30 Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×). Jesus said His yoke was light and easy and we would find rest for our souls.
To be part of the family of God is something that our dreams and imagination cannot grasp completely. Jesus used the lesson about bread to drive home the way of God so we can understand it. We are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Jesus said those who did yearn to be close to God would be blessed because they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6 Matthew 5:6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
American King James Version×). Remember to take Christ into your life every day. We need Him dwelling in us continually in order to live eternally. If we do so, we will never be hungry or thirsty again.
If you want to learn more about how the “bread of life” really lived, read our Bible study aid booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story . For more information on the symbolism of bread in God’s holy days, see the Bible study aid God’s Holy Day Plan .