The Memorial season is upon us! Jehovah’s Witnesses will be observing the Memorial of Christ’s Death. Millions will join them to listen to a lecture and observe what happens. Most, by far, will refuse to participate in the Supper and will reject the bread and wine as it is passed. But in among them will be those who are ambivalent. They are not sure whether they should follow the crowd, or whether they should obey Christ.
The uncertain ones have come to understand that ‘unless they eat and drink of the Christ, they will not gain life, they will not be resurrected, and they will not be in union with Christ.’ (John 6:53-56) They know that there is only one Christian hope (the hope to be with Christ in heaven), one spirit (the anointing), one baptism (into Christ’s death), and one God who is Father of all of them. (Ephesians 4:4-6) Yet, the fear of men will challenge their faith. Some will overcome their fear and do what Jesus asked of them. (Matthew 26:26-28) Some will not.
What can we do to assist our brothers and sisters to act in faith, and not recoil in fear? How can we help them to stand up as mature men and women who will ‘obey God as ruler rather than men? (Acts 5:29)
Reinforcing our Faith
One way to help is by reviewing our commentaries to the January 2016 Watchtower study articles, “The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit” scheduled to be studied a few days before the Memorial, and the follow up article “We Want to Go With You.” Although these Watchtower articles were designed to discourage participation in the Memorial Supper, these commentaries show that the articles actually provide sound reasons why those who love God, who love Christ, and who love truth must participate and partake of the emblems. Specifically, in those articles, the Governing Body acknowledges that:
1. The anointing can occur at any time in one’s life.
2. One can come to either a sudden or a gradual realization of their anointing.
3. One can be anointed even if they previously held the “earthly hope.”
4. One who is being led by spirit IS a spirit anointed child of God.
5. No one should question the anointing of another.
These clear acknowledgments should remove any doubt about whether one could possibly be anointed, and it should clear up any confusion due to past held beliefs.
Also, reviewing Memorial Articles will help our new brothers and sisters realize the importance of participating, and not merely spectating, especially articles such as A Memorial Of Offense, A Tale of Two Suppers, and Who Should Partake of the Memorial Emblems? And articles such as An Intimate Evening With Jesus, Jesus in our Midst and Our Most Holy Night will help them to get in the right frame of mind.
Once we understand what the Bible clearly says about anointing and partaking at the Memorial, the only thing left that might inhibit a new son of God is the fear of men.
Overcoming Fear of Men
Fear of men is more powerful than knowledge. All the knowledge in the world will not help one who is afraid of the disapproval of men. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, that fear is real and not wholly unwarranted. In the Watchtower organization, a person who faithfully partakes at the Memorial is viewed as mentally unstable, and bordering on apostasy. That is very hard for non-Jehovah’s Witnesses to understand, but it is very true.
One who partakes can be certain that in the weeks following the Memorial, they will be called into a meeting with two or more Elders who will question their right to partake and try to discourage them from partaking in the future. The Elders will inquire if that person has been reading religious material that is not published by the Watchtower Society, such as the information on this website. They will remind them of the Governing Body’s teaching that only a small number of Christians today should partake, and then ask whether the person believes the Governing Body is the channel God is using today. If the partaker admits the truth, that our loyalty is to God and Jesus Christ alone is God’s spokesman today, it is possible that a Judicial Committee will be formed to determine whether such a person should be disfellowshipped as an apostate, which will result in the loss of all their friends and even close family members who are Jehovah’s Witnesses! So the fear is indeed real.
Nevertheless, those who choose to obey God rather than men, must overcome that fear if they seek the approval of the Father and Christ Jesus. Jesus once told his followers:
“Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens. But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.”
– Matthew 10:32-33
“Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.”
- Matthew 10:37
But for those who choose Jesus over men, he said:
“Then Peter said in reply: “Look! We have left all things and followed you; what, then, will there be for us?” Jesus said to them: “Truly I say to you, in the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit everlasting life.”
– Matthew 19:27-29
All those who follow Jesus will be faced with precipice moments where we will have to make hard decisions. But those decisions are the ‘treasures stored in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:19-21) They are the building blocks of a spiritual personality. They seem to be obstacles, but in reality they are opportunities – opportunities to prove what sort of person you are.
It helps if unsure ones surround themselves with persons of like faith – those who also accept Jesus invitation to eat and drink in remembrance of him.
“Let us hold firmly the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another so as to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking our meeting together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you see the day drawing near.”
- Hebrews 10:23-25
Those faithful sons of God and the true brothers of Christ Jesus would never abandon you even if the congregation does. And it is important to remember that there is no need to subject yourselves to the scrutiny of men. You can commemorate the Memorial Supper away from the Kingdom Halls. There is no requirement that you do so in a formal congregational setting. Remember that Jesus and his apostles held the first Memorial Supper not in the temple, but unpretentiously in the upper room of a friend. (Luke 22:7-13)
Having said all of that, we want to remind our brothers and sisters that one’s anointing is between that person and Jehovah. Even the Watchtower magazines admit as much. For example, see The Watchtower, June 15, 2009, page 22, paragraph 15 which says:
“On the other hand, how should other Christians view a person who claims to have received this anointing and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? He or she should not be judged. The matter is between this person and Jehovah. (Rom. 14:12)
See also The Watchtower, January 2016, page 24, paragraphs 10 and 15:
“10 How can we show appropriate respect for those whom Jehovah chooses to anoint? We would not ask them personal questions about their anointing. We thus avoid meddling with what does not concern us. (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:11)”
“15. . . . During the last days, Jehovah has continued to select those who will make up the 144,000.  If he chooses to wait until late into that period to select some for that privilege, who are we to question his wisdom? (Isa. 45:9; Dan. 4:35; read Romans 9:11, 16.)  We must be careful not to react like the disgruntled workers who complained about the way their master dealt with the 11th-hour workers. —Read Matthew 20:8-15.”
So a brother or sister who has accepted the one true hope is under no obligation to prove their anointing or explain why they partook to anyone. The Apostle Peter did write that we should always be ready to make a defense for our hope (1 Peter 3:15), but the wise King Solomon also advised that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. (Ecclesiastes 3:7) So if you are approached by the Elders to talk about your hope, you can share those excepts from Watchtower articles and respectfully decline. You can tell them that it’s a private matter and you want to leave it that way.
Do What You Know To Be Right
In the final analysis, however one works out his or her faith in connection with the Memorial Supper, what is most important is that you do partake. Participating in the Memorial Supper is the only commemoration Jesus asked of his followers. It is, in essence, his death bed request. Shall we deny Jesus the one thing he asked of us? Shall we cower in fear of men who cannot add one second to our lifespan and lose our honor before God who offers everlasting life? The choice is easy, though the action may be difficult. Find the faith and the courage and be a shining light. Perhaps others who are fearful will gain courage through your courage. (Matthew 5:14-16)
Also, keep in mind what the Apostle James wrote:
“Therefore, if someone knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.”
– James 4:17
We all know what is right. Jesus asked that we remember him by eating the bread and drinking the wine. That is the right thing to do. But if one rejects his body and his blood when offered the opportunity to partake, what is to become of such a person? How would Jesus view a person who refuses to ‘take, eat’ and passes on the opportunity to remember Jesus as he requested? Nothing good can come of such a sin. It is far better to act in faith and with courage, and confess union with Christ before men so that he will confess union with you before the Father in heaven. Yes, obey God rather than men.