Deut. 4:1-2, 6-9; Ps. 119:129-136; Eph. 6:10-20; Mark 7:14-23.
Stand, [B]e strengthened in the Lord, that is, in his mighty strength. Let yourselves be clothed with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (vv. 10-12).
We continue to advance in “understand[ing] about the loaves” (cf. Mk. 6:52). Though women and children were present at Jesus’ feeding the 5,000, some wonder at their absence from the count. Unlike the modern state of “Israel” that conscript women for combat, ancient Israel exempted women and children from battle, partially picturing the feeding.
5,000 males (v. 44), in ranks (v.40) around Jesus, scripturally recalled Israel’s departure out of Egypt, and tribal line-of-march through the desert around the arc of God’s presence.
At Jesus’ Baptism, God anointed his “new Israel”, champion in one man; whereon the Spirit drove “the Man” into the desert for temptation. Battle ensued; Jesus, trusting in God alone, prevailed against Satan on his home turf (1:12, 13).
Jesus traveled to Galilee, Israel’s northern perimeter, to begin enlisting a gospel army (1:15, 25). Later Jesus would observe the power of his preached word, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Lk. 10:18). In course of their march, Jesus and his Apostles fed the 5,000.
All people are under devilish attack; but in warfare, men exercise “headship”, defining male submission and service to God and family (Eph. 5:21 ff.); Adam’s failure toward his gift, “the woman”.
On the other side of the cross, Jesus rose from death, bringing God a hungry and thirsty array for feeding in the church’s Eucharist, our spiritual Food out of heaven (Jn. 6:51).
All of us come out of Baptism’s anointing endued with martial gifts for heaven’s warfare. Like Israel, passing through the Red Sea, we are snatched by Christ from death, to leave Satan’s horde in the abyss. Baptism imprints hearts and minds with the sign of God’s victory over Satan, his crucifixion that witnesses our release from captivity and a new martial enrollment.
St. Paul catalogues perverse, untruthful, foolish, and fleshly men who tempt and harass us; still, they are not our real enemies; tools perhaps, even victims. Paul reminds, our struggle is not against “blood and flesh” (Eph. 6:12a); rather, it is devil cohorts who conspire against God and his Christ (Pss. 2:2; 110:1, 2) that attack Jesus’ army on earth (Rev. 14 ff.). On this plain the Baptized stand by faith in battle gear from the HS.
We “stand” in the Strength of the Lord against spiritual terrors; “stand” in his belt of Truth; “stand” in his Righteous breastplate; “stand” in sandals on the Way for our Supper’s foot-washing; “stand” wearing a helmet of Salvation; “stand” with the shield of Christ’s faith; and “stand” in the knowledge of Jesus’ word, his Sword (cf. Lk. 22:36b, 38; Jn. 18:11), that “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). With spiritual armor we “put-on” Christ (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27) for invisible warfare.
Thus, equipped, what are we to do; attack the enemy, form extra church “prayer-chains or breakfasts”; No! none of us are able to fully discern the foe; and if you think you do, then you fail to recognize the enemy, liars masquerading as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13, 14).
Our battle gear is not designed for an offensive that is already won, but for defense in following our Captain; standing and facing the adversary. All that remains in these last evil-days is perseverance in trusting the Lord and his gifts; to pray for strengthened faith, for brothers and sisters, and for your pastor to proclaim Christ’s victory.
When attacked, we hold the line, trusting only in the Lord to dispatch the devil and our sins. Satanic attacks are exhausting; but when the onslaught appears to pause, complacency is a mistake.
Napoleon observed, “An army travels on its stomach”. Jesus miraculous feeding the 5,000, was portent of NT Food; and so, we continually return to our Fortress and Christ for restoration, armor repair, and eating the Victor’s ascended bread-Flesh and wine-Blood uniting us to his cross.
Today Jesus engages Pharisees and scribes beyond their original complaint, his disrespect for “elder traditions”. Stunningly, Jesus, by his “Parable of Digestion” claimed authority over Mosaic law, “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him” (Mk. 7:14, 15); then Jesus taught, “all foods clean” (v. 19).
Eucharist for church exodus to the Father is integral of consummation, to be “one flesh” with the Lord (Eph. 5:31) at the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9).
Eucharist is not ordinary food, that digests and eliminated. Our NT Food, the ascended flesh and blood of Jesus, was forbidden by OT regulation (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 17:10, 11; cp. Acts 15:20); still, our resurrection Food corresponds exactly to Christ’s crucified gospel glory. Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse was beginning of the end of Mosaic dietary regulations, “[U]less you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn. 6:53).
The church’s exodus Food changes hearts, whose every inclination is evil, opposing God’s will (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Ps. 51:5; Mk. 7:21). Our L oaf, received in faith (Jn. 6:53-58), binds, shapes, and re-makes whole hearts (Mk. 5:28; 6:56).
Eucharist restores man’s incorruptibility like unto Christ. Jesus is God’s true Son, his will being one with the Father (Jn. 4:34). Subordinated to our new Adam and Head, we are being restored to true humanity at the Father’s begetting. (Jn. 3:7).
Pursued by Saul, David fed his army with tabernacle loaves reserved for priests (1 Sam. 21). In the Resurrection our Showbread in the mass, is reserved for Christian warrior-priests.
Abraham celebrated victory over despot Chedorlaomer, receiving bread and wine blessed by Melchizedek, Salem’s king-priest (Gen. 14:18). Today the church celebrates Christ’s victory over Satan, with heaven’s Bread and Wine from Jesus, our King and High Priest. Amen.