A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, 11 Sept 2011
6:9 As for y’all, therefore, pray
thus: “Our Father in the heavens,
let Your name be made holy,
6:10 let Your kingdom come,
let Your will happen
as in heaven, so on earth.
6:11 Give us today our bread for the next day,
6:12 and forgive us our debts as we ourselves also have forgiven our debtors,
6:13 and do not begin to lead us into temptation, but rather deliver us from the evil.
6:14 For if y’all forgive men of their faults, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
6:15 but if y’all don’t forgive men of their faults, neither will your Father forgive your faults.
s Οὕτως – Jesus gave us a pattern to use in prayer – we are to take the concepts of the Lord’s prayer, express them in our own words and follow their ramifications in prayer.
s The first 3 petitions align our interests with what God is interested in:
s Concentric circles of application: self, household, community, and to the fullest extent of space and time
Today we come to the second half of the Lord’s Prayer, the three petitions (or 4 as some count them) which address our particular needs. To frame this, let me start with a parable about praying the last three requests in the Lord’s Prayer.
For illustrated PDF version, click here!
Once upon a time, there was a small farmer – the farmer himself wasn’t very small, but his farmland was small, so he could not grow very much food. This farmer would plant what he could and then harvest it and carry it in a wheelbarrow to the market in the village every day. Sometimes, there would not be much to harvest. On those days, he still took his wheelbarrow to the market with just a few vegetables in it, knowing he wouldn’t make much money that day to cover the winter days when no crops would grow.
Well, it was one of those bad days, and this farmer was plodding behind his almost-empty wheelbarrow down the road, when a magnificent carriage pulled by six mighty horses swept around the bend in the road and almost plowed right over him! The farmer heard a yell from inside the gilded carriage and the whole train came to an abrupt stop just beside him.
To his surprise, the king himself emerged from the carriage, craving an audience with the farmer! “Uh oh,” thought the farmer, and he dropped to his knees to grovel upon the gravel, apologizing profusely for upsetting his majesty’s ride and begging forgiveness. He wondered if it hurt very much to have a sword slice through one’s neck. “Quit blubbering and stand up,” said the king, “You’re just the man I’ve been looking for! You see, I am working on an economic recovery plan, and I see from the scarcity of goods in your wheelbarrow that you are in need of capitalization!”
Well, that set the poor farmer’s mind reeling. He began dusting off his threadbare clothes and trying to look like the sort of person worthy of a king’s whatyoumaycallit plan. “My dear man,” continued the king, “here is what you are to do: First, you are to come to my palace tomorrow with an estimate of your family’s daily living expenses. Second, you are to make amends with Duke Crankynose who owns the land hereabouts (You HAVE had run-ins with the old “Crank,” haven’t you? Yes, I thought so!). And, by the way, when you come by my palace, would you remind me to send a hundred brave knights to your county? Very well; good day!”
The poor farmer stood there dumbfounded as the king bowed courteously and returned to his cab with a jaunty wave and disappeared in a cloud of thundering hooves. After a few moments of deep thought, the farmer remembered that he was on his way to the market with his meager harvest, so he continued his cumbersome way to the village square.
All day, he thought about the king’s message as he greeted townspeople and quickly emptied his wheelbarrow, then trundled home with a pocket jingling only lightly with change. At length, some thoughts took definite shape in his mind, “How dare that pompus monarch strut his benevolence in front of me like that! I bet all he cares about is getting re-elected! In a pig’s eye will I ever show up in his throne-room begging for bread! The nerve! I’m doing fine on my own, aren’t I? Well, on the other hand, maybe I’ll just keep his offer in mind in case I ever need it in the future, but I definitely won’t go to the palace tomorrow, because tomorrow is old Crankynoses’ birthday, and every year on his birthday, he tries to talk me out of my farm! I’ve got to be there to stand up to him, and maybe I can think of a good insult I can hurl at old Crankynose when he comes ‘round, just to keep him in his place!”
That night, over a bowl of vegetable soup, the farmer treated his bewildered wife to an elaborate critique of economic recovery plans. The next morning, the farmer went out to pick vegetables from his garden, as usual. True to form, Duke Crankynose came to the farmer’s hovel with his annual solicitation of the farmer’s property, but this year, things were different. The old duke had been particularly upset by the particularly-exquisite insult hurled at him by the farmer at their last meeting. Crankynose had decided that he was done with dickering and it was time to force the farmer’s hand. This year, on his birthday, the Duke arrived with 50 soldiers to drive the farmer and his poor wife off their little bit of land and claim exclusive ownership over the entire countryside!
As Crankynose and his 50 cohorts loomed over the little farm, an icy wind swept over the earth, and the thundering sound of a hundred horses reached their ears. The sun hid behind a cloud and 51 pairs of eyes scanned the horizon for the meaning of this omen. But the farmer chuckled to himself; he remembered the 100 knights the king had mentioned yesterday and he thought to himself, “Now old Crankynose is gonna get what’s coming to him!” and he chose an even more choice insult than ever to shock the ears of miserable old Crankynose.
The hundred horsemen hove into view at that moment, all dressed in black and flying a foreign flag. Like a farmer cutting down wheat with a scythe, the enemy army swept through the ranks of Crankynose’s men slaughtering everyone in sight, including the farmer and his wife.
The fearsome horde continued to pillage their way across the countryside until they were stopped in the next county by 100 of the king’s knights, together with 50 troops supplied by the local duke (a certain Mr. Much-Forgiven). Legend has it that this strategic defense was masterminded by another local farmer who claimed to have been visited by the king himself…
EXPLANATION: We are like the farmers in the parable, and God is like the king who told the farmers to do three things. In the 2nd half of the Lord’s Prayer we are instructed to ask God for our daily bread, to forgive and seek forgiveness, and to ask for protection from temptation and evil.
s Like God, the king in the parable knew the strength of the foreign army; he also knew that the poor farmers and rich dukes needed to be united in order to defend their country, and he also knew that certain actions needed to be taken by the very next day. The first farmer’s failure to trust the king, follow the timing of the king, and petition the king according to his instructions resulted in a horrifying disaster.
s There could have been a third farmer in the story who went to the king the next day but instead of presenting his daily needs, finding forgiveness, and petitioning for armed forces, as the king had instructed, he might have decided to ask the king to build a ship and appoint him as captain over the new vessel. That farmer would have suffered the same fate as the first farmer, because, although he was petitioning the right king at the right time, he was asking for the wrong thing, and the enemy would have destroyed him while he was waiting for his boat to be built.
s All parables have their limitations, but do you see the point? God has given us a list of things to ask of Him in the second half of the Lord’s Prayer, and we will find blessing if we ask for the things He tells us to ask for when He tells us to ask for them, rather than asking for something different or failing to ask at all.
The Lord’s Prayer is for our blessing and well-being, so let’s examine each of the three requests our Lord has taught us to pray concerning our needs:
6:11 arton… epiusia – “daily bread” Epiousia only occurs 5 places in entire Bible outside of Lord’s Prayer, all in the book of Acts (7:26; 16:11; 20:15; 21:18; 23:11), and all indicating “the day immediately following”. There is a different word in Greek for “tomorrow” and it would mean a different thing to pray, “Give us tomorrow’s bread today.” The sense is “give us enough to eat now so that we will have enough to live on until tomorrow.”
1) We humans have physical needs – we need food to eat (the Greek word for “bread” could represent all kinds of food), we need water to drink, and we need clothing and shelter from exposure to harsh weather. Without these things we die physically, so we need care for the physical body that God created for us to use for His glory on this earth. We need to come before God asking Him to provide for these needs.
s But what do most people do? Most people look to human strength to provide the food and shelter they need. “Work hard, work smarter, take pride in your work, it’s a jungle out there and only the fittest survive” – or so they believe. “And if you can’t provide for yourself, then go to Uncle Sam and ask him to see you through, and your fellow Americans will load you up with all you need.”
s This is NOT what Jesus teaches in the Lord’s Prayer. He teaches us instead to look to God’s provision for our physical needs. Yes, our labor and its benefits are part of God’s provision, and yes, God often provides for us through other people, but there is a radical difference between depending upon God to provide and relying upon yourself or relying upon humanity to provide for you without regard to God.
o “All life waits upon God and He gives them their food in due season” Psalm 145:15,
o “Every good gift comes down from the Father” says James 1,
o and so we pray “Father… give us…daily bread.”
s So the first principle is we must cultivate an attitude of looking to God to provide for our needs rather than ignoring Him.
s Two corollaries to this first principle are:
2) There is a second principle imbedded in this petition for daily bread, and that has to do with what NOT to ask for:
So, Let us not be like the self-reliant farmer; let us
ask our king humbly for our daily needs, let us be content with the provision
God does give, and let us use with moderation what He does provide.
Now, not only do we humans have physical needs, we also have spiritual and relational needs, so the next petition in the Lord’s Prayer addresses these spiritual and relational needs:
6:12 καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα [hamartias] ἡμῶν,
First of all, what are the “debts” that we need to be forgiven of?
s Since we’re talking to God in prayer, these are debts we have incurred with God. What sort of debts could we have with God, though?
s Luke’s version of the Lord’s prayer sheds light on the answer: “forgive us of our sins.” Probably Jesus was speaking in the Aramaic language and used a word here which could be translated into Greek as either “debt” or “offense,” and Matthew, as he wrote his gospel in Greek, being a tax-collector, naturally chose the accounting term, “debt.”
s Although “debt” is not the usual word chosen to represent sin in the Bible, it paints an accurate picture of the legal nature of sin.
o You see, we as God’s creatures owe it to our Creator to worship Him (Galatians 5:3 “all who were circumcised are indebted to keep the whole Law.”),
o and when we do not fully acknowledge and worship Him, then we become liable to His judgment. Romans 3:23 teaches that we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” which means that legally as sinners against God, we have a debt of judgment which must be settled. God decreed in the 2nd chapter of Genesis that the judgment for disobeying Him is death. We owe God our own death. Jesus commented in Luke 13:4 “You think the 18 men that the tower in Siloam fell on and killed were indebted to God moreso than any other resident of Jerusalem? No, for unless you repent, all of you will perish...”
o But the good news is that God graciously provided for His son Jesus to pay the death-penalty for our rebellion against God, and now all believers in Jesus who repent of their sin and are saved by Him remain debtors to God, but now in a different way; we become debtors to God’s mercy rather than debtors to God’s judgment, drawing every day upon Christ’s payment for our sins.
s In this second petition, Jesus instructs us to ask God to forgive us for the ways we have deepened our debts to His mercy by breaking His laws and failing to do all that He has commanded us to do. This is different from the initial justification which we receive the first time we repent and believe on Jesus, this is a daily renewal of that relationship with God, just as we ask daily for our physical bread.
s The fact that God is asking us to mend the breaches daily in our relationship with Him – even though He is the offended party – is a staggering show of love for His people. He actually enjoys being close to us and being reconciled to us!
Now, there is an uncomfortable ending to this request which we must deal with: “Forgive us.. as we forgive our debtors” but Jesus expounds more on this in verses 14-15, and I don’t have time to cover this now, so I’m going to try to get to this next week.
But for now:
s “Give us this day our daily bread” covers our physical needs and sets our attention upon God to provide them.
s and “Forgive us our debts” covers our spiritual & relational needs, to be made right with God
s The final petition looks to our future needs and our security.
6:13 καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.
This final petition is stated both negatively and positively, thus some people take it as two separate petitions. It starts with a prohibitive command (“don’t you lead us in”) and follows with a positive command (“deliver us”).
1. Let’s look at the prohibitive first: “Lead us not into temptation”
o This word “temptation” is the Greek word peirasmon, which has a basic meaning of proving the genuineness of a person or thing in question.
§ It could be a test of metallic properties to discern whether a rock was made of pyrite or true gold.
§ It could also be a test performed on a person to prove their loyalty.
§ It can also carry the meaning of tempting a person out of a desire to have them join with you in doing something evil, but I believe we can rule out this latter meaning based on James 1:13-15 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (NASB) God does not engage in perverse desires to trip us up into sinning.
o Yet the O.T. clearly says that God peirazw’ed Abraham (Gen. 22:1) by asking him to sacrifice his only son on an altar in the land of Moriah.
§ In this case, God was not trying to get Abraham to rebel against Him (for Abraham obeyed),
§ nor was He trying to get Abraham to murder his son (for God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac),
§ rather God was confirming Abraham’s loyalty to Himself and creating an opportunity for Abraham to learn more about God and grow in his faith.
o Likewise, John 6:6 says that Jesus “tested” Phillip by asking him where he was going to get bread to feed the 5,000 men.
§ Phillip would have passed the test if he had said, “Well, you told us to pray to our heavenly father to give us our daily bread, so do you want me to pray?”
§ Jesus created an opportunity for Phillip to express faith in God and put into practice things that Jesus had taught him.
§ When Phillip answered anxiously that he despaired of finding people able to provide that much bread, Jesus saw that Phillip’s discipleship needed to continue!
o So, in light of God’s history of testing people, yet not actually tempting them to sin, what does this request in the Lord’s Prayer mean?
1. For one thing, it is a statement of faith in God’s good guidance and protection. We are saying, “God, I trust that You will never lead me or my Christian brothers and sisters into sin, and I trust that You will always guide us well, and if I stray, I recognize it will be my own fault, but I trust that since You have saved me, You will not abandon me and let me chase my lusts to my own destruction as you sometimes allow the wicked to do (Luke 8:13, 1 Tim 6:9). 2 Peter 2:9 “…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (NASB) I trust you to lead me and my family and friends and navigate us safely through the treacherous pitfalls all around us.
2. Secondly, this petition is an admission that we need God’s help to keep our crooked hearts from falling into doing wrong when we are tempted.
a. We need the intervention of the Holy Spirit all the time to remind us of God’s truth, to make sin look revolting to us, and to keep drawing us in love toward Himself so that when we do encounter times of temptation we will not tumble into the pitfalls of temptation but walk on past those pits unscathed.
b. 1 Cor 10:13 - 14. Your testing has not overtaken [you] unless it’s human, yet God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above what you are able, but rather He will make together with the test also the way out for the ability to undergo [it]. Therefore, my beloved ones, keep fleeing from idol-worship.
c. We pray “lead us not into temptation” because we need that loving hand of God who knows us better than we know ourselves to provide the way out and keep the temptations from overwhelming us.
s Trials and temptations should come as no surprise to us (1 Peter 4:12, James 1:2) God has told us they are normal. Therefore our response should be to pray, “Lead us not into temptation” just as Jesus later told His disciples in the garden of Gethsamane "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41 NASB,cf. Luke 22:46) And by God’s grace we will be kept safe, even as He promised in Revelation 3:10 “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing…”
2. The positive command comes next, “deliver/rescue us from evil”
o The Greek word for “deliver” is Rhussai – to rush to the rescue, to deliver – it makes me think of a fireman rushing into a burning building to rescue a helpless child. Our God does that! He is a deliverer: (NASB texts quoted below have rhussai in them:)
§ Romans 11:26 "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."
§ 2 Corinthians 1:10 God who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us
§ 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 …pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
§ 2 Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever…
o And so we pray that our heavenly father will deliver us from what is evil:
§ This evil could be the Devil (as the NKJV & NIV translate, “the Evil One”),
§ or it could be the wickedness of other people or even the wickedness of your own heart which the Bible says is “deceitful” and “desparately sick” (Jer 17:9)
§ Wherever evil lurks, whether in ourselves or in others, we must look to our great God to deliver us from evil. We are not strong enough to take on the horsemen of the enemy without the reinforcements of our heavenly king.
It is traditional to conclude the Lord’s Prayer with the phrase “Because the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.”
s This is not found in any modern English Bibles because it wasn’t originally in the Gospel of Matthew, so I will not be exegeting it word for word,
s but it is perfectly appropriate to develop wording that praises God, and these words are a fine doxology for anyone who wants to use it, because it glorifies God using ideas that are consistent with the rest of scripture.
s In fact, some people think it was adapted from the prayer of King David in 1 Chronicles 29:10-13. I’ll close by reading that prayer to you and let you decide for yourself: “You are blessed, O Lord God of Israel, our Father, from everlasting and to everlasting. To you, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the might… we give thanks to You, and praise Your glorious name.” (Adapted from Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint)
“We incline to take it as a prayer against being drawn or sucked of our own will into temptation.”
“our powers are not adequate to living well, except as far as God supplements them… we are ever on the brink of endless falls and catastrophes, unless God hold on to us… God both allows Satan’s whim to inflame the fire of lust an also uses him as the agent of His wrath when he determines to drive men headlong into destruction, thus in His own way He actually leads men into temptation… not that we are on this account to start to call God the Author of evil, for His sending men along the way of the wicked is not reckless tyranny, but the execution of His righteous – though obscure – judgments.”
“Though it is true that God himself never tempts man to sin, it is also true that there is good reason to ask Him not even to permit us voluntarily to run into temptation; for example by establishing a dangerously close alliance with the world…”
“Lord, to not let Satan loose upon us; chain up that roaring lion, for he is subtle an spiteful; Lord, to not leave us to ourselves, for we are very weak; Lord, do not lay stumbling-blocks and snares before us, nor put us into circumstances that may be an occasion of falling.”
“A man may be tempted without entering into the temptation. Entering into it implies giving way, closing in with, and embracing it.”
“There are various sorts of temptations. There are the temptations of God; who may be said to tempt, not by infusing anything that is sinful, or by soliciting to it; but by enjoining things hard and disagreeable to nature, as in the case of Abraham; by afflicting, either in body or estate, of which Job is an instance; by permitting and letting loose the reins to Satan, and a man's own corruptions; by withdrawing his presence, and withholding the communications of his grace; and sometimes by suffering false prophets to arise among his people: his ends in them are on his own account, the display of his power; grace, wisdom, and faithfulness; on account of his Son, that his saints might be like him, and he might have an opportunity of exercising his power and pity: and on his people's account, that they might be humbled; their faith and patience tried; might see their weakness, and need of Christ, and be excited to prayer and watchfulness. There are also the temptations of Satan; which lie in soliciting to evil, suggesting hard and blasphemous thoughts of God, and filling with doubts and fears; which are cunningly formed by him, and are very afflictive. There are moreover the temptations of the world, which arise from poverty and riches, from the men of the world, the lusts of it, and from both its frowns and flatteries: add to all this, that there are temptations arising from a man's own heart. Now, in this petition, the children of God pray, that they may be kept from every occasion and object of sinning; from those sins they are most inclined to; that God would not leave them to Satan, and their own corrupt hearts; nor suffer them to sink under the weight of temptations of any sort; but that, in the issue, they might have a way to escape, and be victorious over all.”
 Red text indicates same as Luke 11’s account of the Lord’s Prayer. English transliterations [in brackets] indicate variances in Luke 11 from the Matthew account.
 Luke account makes this verb present rather than Aorist
 Red text indicates same as Luke 11’s account of the Lord’s Prayer. English transliterations [in brackets] indicate variances in Luke 11 from the Matthew account.
 See Appendix: Commentators on “Lead us not into temptation”