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Wednesday before Easter.
THE EPISTLE, as a whole, is plain in its meaning, carrying on the contrast of the first and second Covenants, brought out in the Gospel for Fifth Sunday in Lent; dwelling on the conse. cration by blood of the solemn Covenant of God with Israel under Mount Sinai (Ex. xxiv. 58), and of the Tabernacle and the Priests (Lev. viii.); then contrasting with this blood of bulls and goats, constantly offered, and availing only to cleanse ceremonially the earthly copies of heavenly things, the blood of Christ offered by Himself, on His entry for us once for all into the Holiest Place of Heaven itself, there to remain till He comes again, to complete the salvation which He has won. But the first clause, both in translation and idea, is difficult. The word rendered "testament" is the same which has been throughout translated "covenant" (see Heb. viii. 6-ix. 15); and the proper idea of a testament, as the will of a
dying person, seems to have no connection with the Covenant of God at all. Probably, on the whole, it is best to render them literally, "Where a covenant is” (between God and sinners as such) "there must be brought forward" (or represented) “the death of the covenanting person; for a covenant has force over the dead; for doth it ever avail while he that made it liveth?" The reference will then be to the sacrifice of the sin offering, representing the covenanter with God as really dead before Him in penalty of sin, and by death of the victim delivering him through the mercy of God, and restoring him to unity with God. The coherence with all that goes before and follows will thus be maintained.
THE GOSPEL is the first part of the "Passion of St. Luke," and should be compared carefully with the narratives of St. Mat
Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, say
right hand, and the other on his
The Epistle. Heb. 9. 16. HERE a testament is, there
Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
us; nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest
W must also of necessity be the entereth into the holy place every
death of the testator: for a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all whilst the testator liveth. Whereupon, neither the first testament was dedicated without blood for when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people, according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament, which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover, he sprinkled with blood both
the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for
year with blood of others: for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
The Gospel. St. Luke 22. 1.
Now the feast of unleavened
bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. Then came the day of unleavened
thew and St. Mark, with which, on the whole, it agrees closely, not however without many notable omissions and insertions. Like the Third Gospel generally, this narrative of St. Luke is marked by special beauty and depth of pathos.
Following the same divisions as in the Gospel for Monday be. fore Easter, we observe that,
(a) THE FEAST AT BETHANY is altogether omitted, and the resolution of Judas to betray his Master referred simply to the temptation of Satan, without notice of the occasion which may first have suggested it.
(b) THE PASSOVER FEAST is described with special fulnessOur Lord's earnest desire to eat it with them, which may be connected with His apparent anticipation of the ordinary time; His refusal to drink of the Paschal Cup at Supper, in anticipation of the "new wine" of the Kingdom of God; the fact that, only when the last Paschal Supper was over, did he break the bread and give the cup to His disciples. Moreover, in the Institution of the Holy Communion St. Luke adds the important words, "This do in remembrance of Me" (or literally, "so as to be My memorial"); containing the authority for that continual celebration, "till He comes" (1 Cor. xi. 26); which supersedes the ancient "memorial " of the Passover. It is remarkable that St. Luke's account agrees almost verbally with the record given by St. Paul (1 Cor. xi. 23-25). Again, in the discourse after the Supper, St. Luke alone tells us of the strife for greatness in His Kingdom among the disciples,
which is at once rebuked by Our Lord's own example, becoming the Law of that Kingdom on earth, and which yet in its highest aspiration is satisfied by the promise of the "twelve thrones" in the Kingdom of Glory. The phrase, "I am among you as he that serveth," is curiously explained by the washing the disciples' feet just over, which is recorded to us only by St. John (John xiii. 1-17). From St. Luke again we read of the command to provide for their own needs and safety (in contradistinction to the practice of their former mission), and of the unintelligent literalism of obedience in the Apostles in respect of the "two swords," which explains how St. Peter came to be armed in Gethsemane.
(c) In relation to the AGONY St. Luke (the physician) alone tells us of the bloody sweat wrung forth in the intensity of mental struggle, and of the Angel sent down (as at the Temptation) to minister to Him.
(d) In the BETRAYAL we read here of Our Lord's reproof to the traitor, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" and of his healing the ear of the wounded servant by an act of mercy, which in the turmoil probably the sufferer alone knew.
(e) The record of the CONDEMNATION is briefer, omitting the testimony of the false wit
(f) The story of the DENIAL OF ST. PETER varies in detail from the others, and contains
bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guest-chamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper-room furnished; there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come he sat down, and the twelve Apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goeth as it was determined; but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed. And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise autho
rity upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee both into prison and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, That this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives, and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray, that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:
the pathetic description of the look of Our Lord upon His failing disciple, which drew forth the sudden tears of penitence.
Everywhere we see traces of independent narrative and touches of impressive and pathetic detail.
THE PROPER LESSONS. - The First Lesson in the Morning (Lam. iv. 1-21) completes the series from the Lamentations, contrasting the former glory and beauty of Israel with its welldeserved ruin; in the Evening (Dan. ix. 20-27) is the great prophecy (in answer to Daniel's prayer and confession) of the Seventy Weeks, at the end of which "Messiah shall be cut off,
but not for himself." The Second Lessons (John xvi. 1-16, 16-33) complete Our Lord's last discourse, (a) renewing more fully still the promise of the Comforter His office to the convince of sin, world, to righteousness, and judgment "His office to the Church, "to guide unto all the Truth," and SO "glorify the Son;" (b) announcing His approaching departure to the Father, and His future spiritual Presence, turning their sorrow into joy, and their imperfect knowledge into perfection: (c) finally, on their eager profession of present faith and knowledge, warning them of their approaching desertion, and their final victory in Him.
Thursday before Easter,
commonly called MAUNDY THURSDAY, a rendering of the old name, Dies Mandati, which commemorated the "new commandment" (Mandatum) given by Our Lord in connection with the washing of the disciples' feet (John xiii. 34). On this day, accordingly, it became the custom for Popes, Kings, and Bishops to wash publicly the feet of poor men, and accompany the ceremony with alms-giving, which still continues with us in the Queen's "Maundy." The day was also marked by the bathing of the Catechumens preparatory to the Easter Baptism, by the solemn reconciliation of penitents, and by the celebration (disused after the 6th century) of an Evening Communion, in memory of the first institution.
THE EPISTLE is the passage referring to and rebuking the
gross profanation of the Holy Communion in the Corinthian church, probably arising in part from its connection with the Agape or Love-feast. It seems that, instead of unity in "the Lord's Supper," there were divisions, through which each person or knot of persons took what became their "own supper," and that excess and drunkenness disgraced the sacred feast. The rebuke of this sacrilege leads St. Paul, first, to give a record of the Institution, independent of, and probably anterior to, our Gospels in their present form, but closely coincident with St. Luke's narrative; and, next, to warn earnestly against this unworthy partaking," in which the sinner "eats and drinks to himself a judgment" (not "damnation," but, as appears below, a