This year, our brothers and sisters among Jehovah’s Witnesses will be ‘observing’ the Lord’s Evening Meal, also called the Memorial of Christ’s Death, after sundown. This is the most important event of the year for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so they should give more than the usual attention on this occasion.
To help our brothers prepare for the Memorial, the January 15, 2015 Watchtower includes an article entitled “Why We Observe the Lord’s Evening Meal,”. This study article lists a few factors that identify those who should and must partake of the Memorial emblems of bread and wine. These are the factors:
- They are absolutely sure they are parties to the new covenant. (Paragraph 14)
- They have stuck with Jesus, sharing in his sufferings. (Paragraph 15)
- They have the witness of the spirit that they are God’s children and refer to God as ‘Father.’ (Paragraph 16)
- They are certain that they will be Jesus’ joint heirs in the heavenly Kingdom. (Paragraph 16)
- When they read scriptures directed to the anointed sons, the holy spirit moves them to say in their heart ‘that applies to me.’ (Paragraph 17)
For the benefit of those who are unsure whether they should partake at this year’s Memorial Supper, we will consider each of these factors individually under the bright light of the Christian scriptures.
They Are Parties to the New Covenant
According to the Watchtower article, the ‘new covenant’ was first spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah.
“Look! The days are coming,” declares Jehovah, “when I will make with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their forefathers on the day I took hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, ‘my covenant that they broke, although I was their true master,’ declares Jehovah. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Jehovah. “I will put my law within them, and in their heart I will write it. And I will become their God, and they will become my people. And they will no longer teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know Jehovah!’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them,” declares Jehovah. “For I will forgive their error, and I will no longer remember their sin.”
– Jeremiah 31:31-34
So in deciding whether you are in the new covenant, ask yourself: When I read these verses, do I believe they apply to me? Is God’s law in my heart? Has Jehovah become my God? Do I ‘know’ Jehovah? Has Jehovah forgiven my errors and my sins? If you answer no, then we wonder: Who are you? To whom do you belong? Who is your God? And if God has not forgiven your errors and your sins, then you remain in your sins and are on the sure path to death and extinction. But if you answer yes, then you are in the new covenant and must partake!
They Have Stuck with Jesus and Share His Sufferings
It is clear that those brothers and sisters in the 1st century who personally knew Jesus or suffered persecution and death for openly confessing union with Jesus were indeed ‘sharers in his suffering.’ But who today fit this description? Who are the ones today suffering persecution and literal or spiritual death because they openly confess union with Christ Jesus?
We know that many Christians in the Middle East are suffering literal persecution and actual physical death because of being identified as Christians. But among Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are the ones suffering persecution because of being a Christian?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted for a lot of reasons such as refusal to accept blood transfusions, refusal to celebrate holidays, and refusal to participate in civic or social activities. They are suffering for their stand against governments and for their bad policies in the handling of accusations of child abuse. But none of this persecution arises because they are Christians or because they profess union with Christ.
According to Watchtower writings, only about 19,500 out of nearly 9 million Jehovah’s Witnesses qualify as those who are sticking with Jesus and are sharing in his sufferings. The rest are apparently not sticking with Jesus, but are mere spectators. They may be following Christ, but not all the way. They stop short at the doors to the heavenly kingdom. So you must ask yourself: Where do I stand? Am I a mere spectator, standing apart from the Christ? Or do I view myself as sticking with Jesus, openly confessing union with him despite any persecution that might come upon me? If you answer yes to these questions, then this Memorial Supper is for you! And you must partake!
They Have the Witness of the Spirit as God’s Children
The Apostle Paul wrote about those who have the witness of the spirit. The Watchtower article points to the following verses:
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs—heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ—provided we suffer together so that we may also be glorified together.”
– Romans 8:15-17
According to Paul, we either have a ‘spirit of slavery’ or a ‘spirit of adoption.’ Which spirit do you have? Paul also wrote:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit are indeed God’s sons.”
– Romans 8:14
Are you led by the flesh or are you led by spirit? If you are led by spirit, then you a child of God. If you are not led by spirit, then you do not belong to God, but are a child of someone else, as Paul explained:
“However, you are in harmony, not with the flesh, but with the spirit, if God’s spirit truly dwells in you. But if anyone does not have Christ’s spirit, this person does not belong to him.”
– Romans 8:9
On the other hand, do you feel a closeness with Jehovah, the closeness and security a child would feel when in the presence of their own loving father? Do you have confidence that Jehovah will protect you as a parent would protect their own child? When you pray to Jehovah, does your spirit compel you to refer to Him as ‘Father?’
Even now, as you read these words, does your heart compel you to yearn for the Father, to cry out to the Father, to seek the comfort and security of the Father? If so, then at this Memorial, you must eat the bread of the children, not stand silently until after the supper, and beg for the crumbs fit for the little dogs? (Matthew 15:26-27)
They Are Certain They Are Joint Heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom
The children of God believe the promises of God and accept as true Paul’s words:
“If, then, we are children, we are also heirs—heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ—provided we suffer together so that we may also be glorified together.”
– Romans 8:17
If we relate to Jehovah as a child to a father, then we are, in fact, heirs to the heavenly kingdom whether we know it or not. There is no way around this. Children are heirs!
“Now because you are sons, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, and it cries out: “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then you are also an heir through God.”
– Galatians 4:6-7
Perhaps you do not feel that you are entitled to the Father’s heavenly inheritance. But does that mean you are not a child of the Father? Many children do not know what they will inherit from their parents, yet they are still their children. If you cannot comprehend that the Father’s heavenly kingdom is for you, perhaps that is simply humility not a sign that you are a ‘slave of another.’ Remember what Paul wrote happens to slaves:
“Nevertheless, what does the scripture say? “Drive out the servant girl and her son, for the son of the servant girl will by no means be an heir with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman.”
– Galatians 4:30-31
There is no place in the Father’s house for slaves. Either you will take your place at the table as a child of God and partake of the ‘bread of the children’ (Matthew 15:26), or you will be driven out along with all other slaves. But all of the children who remain in the house must partake!
When They Read the Scriptures, They Know it Applies to Them
When you read the scriptures where God expresses His love for His spiritual children, do you say “No, that doesn’t apply to me. God doesn’t love me like that.” When you read Jesus’ promise that he is going to prepare a place for you, do you say. “No, he’s not preparing a place for me.” When you read Jesus’ direction to those who have been approved: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world” (Matthew 25:34), do you say, “No, he is not talking to me!” If so, then what scriptures in the Christian writings do apply to you?
If Jesus’ promises don’t apply to you, do Paul’s writings apply to you? Do Peter’s writings apply to you? Do John’s writings apply to you? And if the Christian writings do not apply to you, what writings do apply to you? Are you living under the Jewish system of things, reaching out for fleshly goals? If you are living according to the Jewish pre-Christian writings, then it is the Passover you must celebrate. But if you do not celebrate the Passover, and you do not partake at the Memorial Supper, who are you? And to whom do you belong?
The Watchtower article speaks of those who want to live forever on earth, not in heaven. They hope to remain in their fleshly bodies and continue enjoying life on earth forever. They are the ones Paul referred to in his letter to the Romans:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit, on the things of the spirit. For setting the mind on the flesh means death, but setting the mind on the spirit means life and peace; because setting the mind on the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not in subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be. So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God.”
– Romans 8:5-8
If you find yourself hoping for an eternal future in the flesh, you are not in harmony with God. As the Watchtower correctly asserts, those who are seeking a fleshly future should not partake, because they do not belong to Christ and cannot please God even if they do partake!
Those Who Should Not Partake
To emphasize our point, we repeat: We agree with the January 15, 2015 Watchtower that those with the ‘earthly hope’ should not partake. They are not in the new covenant, their sins and errors have not been forgiven, they are not in union with Christ, they do not have the witness of the spirit, they are not led by spirit, they are not God’s children, they are not Christ’s brothers, they are not baptized into the Christ, they are not a part of the Body of Christ, they are not in the Christian congregation, which IS the body of Christ (Colossians 1:24), they have not picked up their torture stake, they are not following Christ, they are not drinking the new wine and the Christians writings do not apply to them. They are those Jesus described when he said:
“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’”
– Matthew 7:21-23
The presence of these ‘slaves of another’ at the Lord’s Evening Meal, the Memorial Supper, is nothing more than a hindrance to the children of God and an affront to the Christ. They get all dressed up so they can gawk at the emblems and spy to see who has the courage to ‘stick with Christ.’ They are not content to avoid the occasion and be indifferent to the commemoration. No, they want to make sure the Christ knows they did not forget his Evening Meal. They want him to know they were present, and rejected his invitation to ‘take, eat.’ (Matthew 26:26)
Those slaves are taking up space and causing the Watchtower organization to waste many bottles of wine and many portions of unleavened bread. While some will surely take the leftovers, as would scavengers, they will consume these emblems, not for Christ, but as part of their common mundane activities, adding further insult to injury.
No, these slaves should not partake. They should not even be present on this most holy night. Common decency should tell them to simply stay home and allow the children of God the opportunity to commune with their Father and His Christ in peace on the one night set aside for this purpose.
On the other hand, if you recognize that you are in the new covenant, then your sins and errors have been forgiven. Although you may be persecuted and ridiculed for partaking of the emblems, know that you are sharing in the sufferings of the Christ. You have the witness of the spirit of God that dwells in you and the spirit of truth that Jesus sent that confirms in your heart you are a child of God and an heir to the heavenly kingdom. You know that the promises of Jesus as set forth in the Christian writings are meant for you, and therefore you must partake.
Whether you choose to participate in the Memorial Supper in the company of the ‘slaves’ or in a private setting with ‘your brothers in Christ,’ the important thing is that you do partake, for by doing so, you are standing with the Christ and commemorating all that he has done for you and for the whole association of his brothers throughout the world.
As always, we welcome your comments.