The crown of thorns was firmly place on our Lord’s head. The head is the origin of thoughts. “A Penny for your Thoughts” is a Twilight Zone episode about a mild mannered bank teller who has been endowed with a gift to read other people’s minds. I think it would be frightening but even more frightening someone knowing what goes on in my mind. Jesus taught us the true understanding and use of God’s Law: If you look lustfully at someone else, you have committed adultery, if you are angry with your brother, it is murder. The true use of the Law is spiritual and it does not take much imagination to guess what goes on in the minds of sinners.
In our increasingly secularized society, in stead of a prayer, it is: “I’ll have a good thought for you”. Well meaning, but it easier said than done most days, hours, minutes, seconds. The sharpness of our thoughts are as piercing as these thorns, like the ones sunk into the Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, weighed done with our grief and shame. His thorns can remind us of evil thoughts and remind us of the One who bore the vain imaginations of the people He created to be His own. These thorns remind of His blood pouring down upon head that He redeemed us as temples of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, these temples of our heads, are His, He bought them back with thorns piercing His flesh, and bearing our shame in His heart, soul and mind. Pray without ceasing, anytime, anywhere and the Holy Spirit will cleanse this temple in faith in Christ by God’s grace. Let us pray…
Let the incense of our repentant prayer ascend before you, O Lord, and let your loving kindness descend upon us, that with purified minds we may sing your praises with the Church on earth and the whole heavenly host, and may glorify you forever and ever. Amen
COLLECT OF THE DAY
Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Psalm 22 (antiphon: v. 1)
or Psalm 31 (antiphon: v. 1)
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Is. 53:4)
But if any honest Christian wants to know why the Lord suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He “become a curse” otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written “Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree.” Again, the death of the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it “the middle wall of partition” is broken down and the call of the Gentiles comes about. How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched? Here, again, we see the fitness of His death and of those outstretched arms: it was that He might draw His ancient people with the one and the gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself. even so, He foretold the manner of His redeeming death, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Myself” Athanasius of Alexandria
“… in times past this sacrament was so properly used, and the people were taught to understand this fellowship so well, that they even gathered food and material goods in the church, and there—as St. Paul writes in I Corinthians 11: 23—distributed among those who were in need. We have a vestige of this [practice] in the little word “collect” in the mass, which means a general collection, just as a common fund is gathered to be given to the poor. Those were the days too when so many became martyrs and saints. There were fewer masses, but much strength and blessing resulted from the masses; Christians cared for one another, supported one another, sympathized with one another, bore one another’s burdens and affliction. This has all disappeared, and now there remain only the many masses and the many who receive this sacrament without in the least understanding or practicing what it signifies.
There are those, indeed, who would gladly share in the profits but not in the costs. That is, they like to hear that in this sacrament the help, fellowship, and support of all the saints are promised and given to them. But they are unwilling in their turn to belong also to this fellowship. They will not help the poor, put up with sinners, care for the sorrowing, suffer with the suffering, intercede for others, defend the truth, and at the risk of [their own] life, property, and honor seek the betterment of the church and of all Christians. They are unwilling because they fear the world. They do not want to have to suffer disfavor, harm, shame, or death, although it is God’s will that they be thus driven—for the sake of the truth and of their neighbors—to desire the great grace and strength of this sacrament. They are self-seeking persons, whom this sacrament does not benefit. just as we could not put up with a citizen who wanted to be helped, protected, and made free by the community, and yet in his turn would do nothing for it nor serve it. No, we on our part must make the evil of others our own, if we desire Christ and his saints to make our evil their own. Then will the fellowship be complete, and justice be done to the Sacrament. For the Sacrament has no blessing and significance unless love grows daily and so changes a person that he is made one with all others.
(From Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, edited by Timothy F. Lull, “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, and the Brotherhoods”, 1519)
Note about the word, “Maundy”: It is derived from the Latin “mandatum”, or commandment (as in “mandate”). On this 1st of the 3 days of our salvation, the Lord Jesus gave 2 commandments.
1. When He washed His disciples feet He said, A new commandment that you love one another. The sense of the Greek is that the new commandment is SO THAT you love another, which would mean the new commandment is to wash each other’s feet. IN that way we love each other and show forth His love to all.
2. When He broke the bread and gave the Cup, He gave us His body and blood with the words, “Do this”. The Holy Communion is not optional, but a command. In Jewish tradition the 2 candles on the dining table represent: Command and Remembrance. Yes! “Do this, in remembrance of Me.” As we are serve one another the Lord serves us His Body and Blood till He comes again in glory. His Church is called to serve the Dinner: the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Mass and serve one another.
The two sets of readings for this holy day are about the vertical and horizontal dimension of the Holy Communion of the Church: kneeling to receive the Sacrament of the Altar and kneeling to wash each other’s feet. In many of the icons of the Lord washing Peter’s feet, Peter has his hand to his forehead as if he saying, “Oh, my!”. This is the Lord who knelt to wash His disciples feet. The Lord who knelt to feed us His Body and Blood. The Lord who knelt in prayer. He calls us to Himself as His kneeling Church.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
1 Corinthians 11: 23-32
St. Matthew 26: 17-30
1 Corinthians 11:23-32
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare Your only Son but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Reading’s: Isaiah 62:11-63:7 Psalm 70 Romans 6: 6-11 St. John 13: 16-38
It was on this day that Judas made his arrangements with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and at the last Passover meal on Thursday Judas left the Passover meal in order to complete the betrayal (John 13:25-27). Therefore, Holy Wednesday has also been called “Spy Wednesday”.
Leonardo Davinci’s famed painting, The Last Supper is the portrayal of the moment at the last Passover meal in which Jesus announces that one of the disciples will be a traitor and they ask, Is it I? Dr. Paul Kretzmann in his Popular Commentary on the Bible comments on the events of Spy Wednesday:
He would give a morsel (of bread) which He was just then dipping into the sauce (charoseth) , which was one of the dishes of the Passover meal. And suiting His action to His word, Jesus took the sop which He was just then dipping and gave it to Judas Iscariot. This incident revealed the traitor to John, and probably also to Peter. But as for the rest, it is probable that most of them did not notice the incident at the time, or did not attach any importance to it. For the entire matter was taken care of so quietly, almost secretly, that it attracted no attention from the rest of the table-round. Then, also, Judas dipped into the sauce at the same time that Jesus did, Mark 14, 20. He, of course, knew to whom Jesus had reference, but he was brazen-faced enough even to ask Jesus whether it was he that would perform the dastardly deed of betraying the Master, Matt. 26, 25.
…In all His dealings with Judas, in all the warnings which the Lord sounded, He still had the object of winning him from his way of sin and damnation, if possible. But in this crisis Judas decided the wrong way, he rejected the admonition of the Lord. After he had received the sop, the devil entered into him, took complete possession of his heart and mind, hardened both against the influence of Jesus, and forced Judas to do his will. That is the final result of yielding to evil influence in the first place; the ability to turn to good is lost. and in the crisis the devil steps in and takes hold of such a person as his own property. Now Jesus distinctly, so that all the disciples could hear it, told Judas to do as quickly as possible what he had in mind, what he intended to do. The traitor was not directing the turn of events, for this was altogether in the hands of Jesus; he was the devil’s tool, but his devilish work resulted in the serving of God’s plans. The fate of Judas was hereby decided; his heart was hardened; he was deserted by God forever: forever given into the will and submission of the devil. That is the terrible judgment which finally strikes the backslider, the apostate that denies the accepted truth: he is the tool and instrument of the devil to work his will, to commit one sin after the other, and finally to end in everlasting damnation
…Immediately after Judas had received the sop at the hand of Jesus and had heard the remark which accompanied the action, he left the room. It was now about the time of the evening when twilight gave way to complete darkness, when night fell, about seven o’clock or somewhat later at that time of the year. Judas belonged to those that hate the light, that prefer the cover of darkness for their deeds. For that purpose he had left the upper room. There was night in him, and there was night about him; he was a child of darkness and damnation.