Audio Worship, 4/21/2024, "Ample Bread - Abundant Forgiveness" Matthew 6.9-15, 25-34

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1634

April 21, 2024

Matthew 6.9-15, 25-34             Click here for audio worship.

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)


“Ample Bread – Abundant Forgiveness”


9Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.



  • Three Petitions


So far in our series on the Lord’s Prayer we have covered the first three petitions. All three of these petitions concern the Lord: His name, His kingdom, and His will. We seek to honor His name, hallow it, revere the sacred nature of the Name of God. In so honoring His name we praise and adore God for who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Next, we pray for His kingdom to come and rid us of all the evil and sin and darkness that currently prevails across the earth. We are praying for the return of Christ that He might take His place in the promised reign bringing all the promises of God to completion. The third petition is praying for God’s will. Our hope is that God’s will would be done on earth as in heaven. One of the ways this is accomplished is by God helping us submit to His will, to do His will in our lives that others might see God.

Three petitions begin the Lord’s Prayer, to honor and praise God’s name, to pray for His kingdom to come, and to pray that His will be done. Today we begin our reflection on the petitions that regard our well being.


  • Our Daily Bread


The first is “give us this day our daily bread”. That kind of prayer has a different meaning between us and what it could have meant for the disciples or any common person in biblical times. We live in a context of abundance, you and I, but there have always been those who lived with a limited amount of food. People in Jesus’ day and people today who are impoverished in some manner, and even more so outside of the USA who search for food every day to survive. To pray for daily bread when one’s next meal is in question is very different from those of us who have planned for the week out of the abundance in our freezer or a door dash order away. For us to pray for our daily bread is to remember those who may not have daily bread and to lead us to a life of gratitude for what God has provided for us.

So we still pray for our daily bread, because we know that God provides for both those in situations of abundance and those in scarcity. It is not just about bread, not just about food, but about all that sustains us in life. It is about daily life and it is asked in the middle of more grand themes of a hallowed name / kingdom coming / God’s will being done and that which will follow, leading us not into temptation but deliverance from evil. Sandwiched between such large themes is bread. No pun intended. Our daily existence is important as we await the fruition of the God’s kingdom to come and as we seek protection from evil. We have to eat. We have to have shelter. We have to have clothing and heat and life giving means.

Our daily bread is a reminder of Bible stories and Bible miracles of manna in the wilderness, feeding of 5000 with two loaves and five fish, of bread broken in the presence of two disciples whose eyes were opened to recognize Jesus, and that Jesus is the bread of life. Our daily bread, in those reminders, also reminds that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4.4). Jesus said that He had food that the disciples did not know about (John 4.31-34). That food was to do God’s will and accomplish His mission. Our daily bread is bread and Word. Our daily bread is physical sustenance and spiritual nurture. Our daily bread is our expression of gratitude for what God has done to provide for our entire being. In praying this part of the prayer we are putting ourselves under the care of God, not under ourselves, our own power, not any other outside entity, but to God alone because we recognize that all our blessings are generated in the heart of God. Therefore, all praise and thanks is due His hallowed name.



  • Forgiven – Forgive


One of the most difficult practices we might face is to forgive those who have wounded us. In the next petition we seek to be forgiven and to forgive those who have sinned against us. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In the same way that Jesus assumes we will pray as in Luke 11, “when you pray, say,” so too this section of the prayer assumes we will forgive, “as we forgive our debtors.” The Apostle Paul teaches that we are to forgive others as we have been forgiven, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4.32). Some might argue that Paul is referring to forgiveness within the church, among brothers and sisters in Christ. This might be true but there is plenty of evidence that we are to forgive all people who may have sinned against us because Jesus died for all who sinned against Him. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. Jesus calls us to be a people who forgive because we have been forgiven in Christ.

On a side note: We pray debts and debtors partly because we owed a debt we could not pay, that of sin, and Jesus paid that debt on the cross. There is nothing wrong with praying trespasses or sins in the Lord’s Prayer, it simply is the tradition in most Presbyterian Churches to pray debts and debtors.

The Larger Catechism teaches that in this petition we acknowledge our sinfulness, both in inheriting the sin of the fall in Adam and Eve and in our actual sins we have committed. We are thus debtors to God’s justice. Through Christ’s atonement, His obedience and sacrifice, we may know the forgiveness offered in repentance and know fully the peace and joy that comes through His grace. We can know this peace more fully when we have also forgiven those who have sinned against us and God.

When we forgive others, it is as much for us as for the offender. Forgiving others lightens the load of anger and vengeance that we might harbor in our soul and spirit. Forgiveness helps us know more deeply God’s forgiveness of us, for we, like those who have offended us, do not deserve God’s grace freely given in Christ. Jesus has loved us and forgiven us, so too we are to love others and forgive them as well. The disciples struggled with this as we might. Peter, after hearing Jesus teach about forgiveness, asked how often should we forgive. Matthew 18.21-35, “Then Peter came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” It is not about the number, not about any limit to forgiveness, but about a heart of forgiveness. Imagine how many times God has had to forgive us! Most likely more than seventy-seven times. Jesus then tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven. A king who wanted to settle all his accounts of all who owed him money sent for them to pay their debts. He forgave the debt of one servant and then that servant went out and demanded payment from someone who owed him money. When that person could not pay, the servant had him thrown in jail. Word got back to the king. We pick up the parable in verse 32 where the king confronts the servant he had released from debt, “‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”


It is no small discipline or blessing to forgive others. It is part of what we are called to do out of gratitude for what has been forgiven in our own lives, our own debt to God for sin. When we pray forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, we are seeking to act toward others as God has acted toward us. When we fail to forgive, we are like the wicked servant who ends up in jail.


  • Two Disciplines of Faith


As I contemplate this part of the Lord’s Prayer, I see two disciplines that come out for us to consider for deeper practice.


1) To seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness according to Matthew 6.33. In that seeking we are trusting in God’s provision. We are trusting for daily bread and all daily provisions for all that we need in life and faith. When we seek the kingdom and righteousness of God we are trusting that all these things will be added unto us.


2) Practice repentance and forgiveness of others. I know it is difficult to forgive. The greater the offense, the more difficult the pardon. But this is the cost of discipleship. This is the cost of following the One who has already forgiven us our sins, our trespasses, our iniquities, and our debts. There is no greater joy and peace than knowing that we are set free from the sins we have committed and there is not greater joy and peace in offering that same forgiveness to those who have sinned against us.


May we gain a deeper understanding of what we are praying in the Lord’s Prayer, that it might grow our faith as we seek to understand the power of what Jesus has taught us both in reciting this particular prayer and in all that we might pray. Amen.