Holy Wednesday is the day of preparation. Based on the gospel story, the liturgy of this day speaks of the preparation of the Easter meal of Christ with the disciples. In the light of the New Testament, this preparation for the Last Supper becomes the approach of the Lord's farewell to the world, which He loved so much that He gave His Life (John 15:13). For the Church throughout the universe, preparations are coming for the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, which, according to Paul's word, will be carried out all the days until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26).
One of the most important hymns of the first days of the Holy Week and Great Wednesday, in Orthodox worship is sung at Matins: “I see Thy chamber, my Savior, adorned. But I do not have worthy clothes to enter it. Enlighten the clothes of my soul, giver of Light, and save me”.
According to tradition, it is performed in the middle of the church. In the hand of the chanter, in the darkness of the pre-dawn silence of the temple, a candle burns alone.
The image of the supper, the wedding feast and the celebration has always been very important to the Lord. He spoke about it more than once in his parables. So, in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 22; 1-14), the Savior told the disciples about the master who made a supper for many invited. The same parable, with slight differences in the narrative, is also contained in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 14:16-24). Under the image of the Lord - the host of the supper - Jesus Himself is revealed.
When the Hour of the Supper came, the master commanded his servant to call those who were invited. But “they all, as if by agreement, began to apologize” (Luke 14:18). "I bought land, I bought oxen, I got married...". These were ordinary, human, important excuses in their own way. In their human authenticity, they were worthy of acceptance.
So, as an excuse for their refusal to participate in the supper, each of the invitees brings something of his own. This is the purchase of a large new estate, professional duties, under which that biblical time meant the acquisition of livestock, or, finally, a recent marriage, marrying a young wife. Such are the biblical images; they are repeatedly found on the pages of the Scriptures.
At the same time, it is very important that the justifications given for refusal have a biblical basis. Thus, the Book of Deuteronomy, which is very strict in its legislation, commands: “If someone has recently taken a wife, let him not go to war, and nothing should be laid on him” (Deut. 24:5). The heart of a person will not be with the Lord, and therefore the newlywed should be freed from war. This is the logic of Scripture.
However, the same Scripture teaches to listen to God. Hear the essence of His message and in no way distort it. Because the Lord invited not to war, but to the Supper. The law in the Bible spoke of war.
In response, the Lord of the Supper became angry and said to his servant: “Go quickly through the streets and lanes of the city and bring here the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” (21). "Fulfilled as you ordered, and there is still room" (22). Then the Lord said to the servant: “Go along the roads and the hedges and persuade me to come so that my house will be filled. For I tell you, none of those called will taste my supper, for many are called, but few are chosen” (23-24).
In response, the Host of the Supper became angry and said to his servant: “Go quickly through the streets and lanes of the city and bring here the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” (21). "Fulfilled as you ordered, and there is still room" (22).
Then the Lord said to the servant: “Go along the roads and the hedges and persuade me to come so that my house will be filled. For I tell you, none of those called will taste my supper, for many are called, but few are chosen” (23-24).
In the New Testament perspective, the image of the supper means an invitation to the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus came as the True Messiah. His enemies, citing the biblical commandment as their justification, condemned the Lord to death. You can't justify renunciation of God by the Law of God. This explains the divine wrath.
On Great Wednesday, the narration the Gospel of Matthew (26:6-16) is also read during the liturgy. This text also speaks of a supper - a meal to which Jesus Himself was invited along with the disciples.
According to the gospel text, “a woman came to the Lord with a vessel of precious perfume” (7). Perfume was a treasure of the ancient world. Therefore, such an offering was undoubtedly a great gift. Matthew himself, who had been a tax collector before his calling by the Lord, did not fail to mention this.
The wife poured the perfume on his head as Jesus was at the table. And this met with the indignation of the disciples. “Seeing this, His disciples were indignant and said: Why such a waste?” “For it would be possible to sell this ointment for a high price and give it to the poor,” then the voice of the disciples sounded (8–9).
The gospels complement each other. So the Gospel of John, which gives a similar story about the evening, but under slightly different circumstances, we learn that in fact Judas was behind the disciples. It was he who, in indignation, called for giving the price of the precious incense to the poor. John adds: "He did not say this because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief." (John 12:6).
From the combination of the Parable and the story of the Supper, understanding is born. In fact, the entire earthly life of Jesus Christ was an invitation to the Kingdom Supper. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” he said (Mt. 11:28). But, according to the testimony of the Gospel, as the Pharisees asserted in their pride, “none of the princes and rulers believed in Him” (John 7:50). The invitation of Jesus the Messiah was rejected. Those who refused to follow the Lord cited God's Law as their justification (cf. 5:16,18).
Then the Lord Himself chose His disciples. Not those who stood at the head of the religious and social life of the people, but those who, according to the ideas of the powerful of this world, were “poor, crippled, lame and blind” (Lk.14 ,21). Like the Apostles, who, like Peter, Andrew and John, and others, were fishermen, or Mary Magdalene, from whom, according to the Gospel, "Jesus cast out seven demons" (Mark 16:9). “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has given you the Kingdom,” said Christ Himself in the Gospel (Luke 12:32).
“Not many of you are wise according to the flesh, not many strong, not many noble; but God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong; God chose the lowly things of the world, and the lowly and meaningless things, in order to abolish the things that are significant,” Paul wrote (1 Cor. 1:26). Significantly, the Epistles of Paul became the first authentic Christian written source in history, which, as a text, began to be called the New Testament. His Epistles appeared before most of the Gospels. Therefore, this testimony of Paul about Christianity as a Community of the Dispossessed is especially important.
Thus, it becomes obvious that Jude, speaking of the poor, had in mind the Apostles. But like many avaricious preachers, when he meant the good of the Church, he meant himself. This is how it often happens to those who, under the pretext of caring for Christians, betrayed Christ. “He had a cash box with him and wore what was lowered there. He did not say this because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief. (John 12:6-7).
The gospels complement each other in a mysterious way. In the same parable about the supper, as it is given in the Gospel of Matthew (22:1-14), it is said about a certain person who was not dressed in wedding clothes (11). Finding Him, the Lord of the Supper, commanded to cast him out. “Then the king said to his servants: Bind his hands and feet, take him and cast him into darkness” (22:13).
Judas was one of the Apostles. He followed His word, but in his heart, and it is the true clothing of man, he ran towards betrayal. “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). From forgetting Christ for the good of the Church, may the Lord preserve us all.