QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
Regarding Memorial | Lord's Evening Meal
05/19/12 | How many people in history have already partaken of the emblems?
10/19/12 | Do you encourage people to partake in the Memorial even before God's calling?
01/09/13 | On what specific date did Jesus institute the Memorial supper?
01/13/13 | Follow up to Question and Response, January 9, 2013
03/19/13b | Can I commemorate the Memorial alone?
01/09/14 | What do you think about the number of Memorial partakers in 2013?
02/07/14 | When celebrating the Memorial at home, what kind of bread and wine should we use and can our children participate?
02/07/14b | Is it premature to suggest that people not attend the 2014 Memorial hosted by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
02/08/14 | What sort of persons should we invite to our private Memorial Suppers?
02/09/14 | Brother is determined to celebrate the Memorial Supper with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
02/11/14 | Can I celebrate the Memorial alone? (How to invite others.)
02/12/14 | Why don’t we just count ourselves since the Governing Body will not?
02/12/14b | Can I partake at the Memorial if my life is not ‘in order’?
02/20/14 | What kind of meal should we serve at the Memorial?
02/22/14 | Do I need to confess my sins to the Elders before I can partake at the Memorial?
02/24/14 | Since the scriptures indicate that we can celebrate the Memorial Supper whenever we get together, is there a need for an annual celebration?
03/05/14 | Are there any brothers in the Philippines who are having a private Memorial Supper?
03/06/14 | What songs will they be singing at the private Memorial Suppers?
03/07/14 | A brother’s method of publicizing the private Memorial Suppers
04/06/14 | What do I do if the elders try to disfellowship me for partaking?
02/18/15 | Did Judas partake of the Memorial Emblems?
02/22/15 | Visitor believes Judas did partake of the first Memorial Supper
03/05/15 | Is the article Who Should Partake of the Memorial Emblems, why do we say “you must” partake?
03/20/15 | Visitor comments on the glaring omission in the Watchtower’s 2015 Memorial Invitation
01/08/18 | If I have chosen to follow Jesus, can I partake even though I have an earthly hope?
03/08/19 | Could it be that Jesus deceived us, that he made a mistake, that he lied to us, when he said that he would be in he burial tomb for 3 days and 3 nights?
03/10/19 | Did Jesus Lose Faith on the Torture Stake?
03/16/19 | Was Jesus us in the earth for 3 days and nights? - follow up question
♦ How many people in history have already partaken of the emblems?
On May 19, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“How many people in history have partaken of the emblems? How many anointed are there now? Have you been counting? When can we know if all the anointed has partaken of their heavenly position with our father?”
To the author, we thank you for posting your questions. As a general answer to your questions, we direct you to the Apostle Paul’s words:
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29
Here we are told that ALL who belong to Christ are sons of God. We gain that privileged relationship through our faith. There is no distinctions in the Christian congregation such that some are consider slaves and some considered sons. We are ALL Abraham’s seed. When we recognize and have faith in those words, we receive our anointing.
We know many of our brothers are having trouble with that concept. They are stuck on the idea that only 144,000 are sons of God and the remaining 7 million of us are only friends of God and subjects of the Kingdom. We have posted several articles that establish the sonship of every member of the Christian congregation under the section entitled Building Up the Brotherhood.
And we are finding that our most recent series of articles entitled The Cherished Earthly Hope is having a significant impact on our brothers who are having trouble understanding their sonship. We encourage you to read that series for further clarification of the hope held out to members of the Christian congregation.
Really, when we understand the truth that we are ALL sons of God, how can we count the number? And why count the number? In truth, the only number that is relevant is the number that are NOT partaking. Those are the ones who need the kingdom message the most.
Our suggestion is that you not worry about numbers. Concern yourself with people. Make it your mission to share the Kingdom message that we are ALL children of God. That is the good news of the Kingdom.
We hope we have adequately answered your questions. If not, please feel free to write again.
♦ Do you encourage people to partake in the Memorial even before God's calling?
On October 19, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“I had the personal experience of being called by God's Spirit (known as anointing event). These days while reading your site I realize you make the point that everyone is God's son. I agree with it, indeed, I hope and pray our celestial Father calls others/everyone as well. My question is: Do you encourage people to partake in the Memorial even before God's calling? I say that because we are aware the fact that God calls his sons.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are so pleased that you recognize and accept the calling of you. (2 Peter 1:10) And your prayer has already been answered regarding the Father’s generosity!
The Father calls us through his Son and the poured out Spirit of Truth. That was done centuries ago. He stands at the door ready for us to open. The only reason our brothers do not know they are sons is because they have not opened the door. They have not taken that leap of faith of believing that the gift of sonship has been offered to them. You might want to read the article we published, “Am I a Son?” – Conquering Doubt, for further discussion of that matter. Notice also Jesus’ words:
“Look! I am standing at the door and knocking. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his [house] and take the evening meal with him and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
If Jehovah’s Witnesses were preaching the true good news when they called at a person’s door, that visit would constitute an extension of the Father’s calling to that person. Then, the question of “Have I been called?” would be a non-issue. Brother, there is no hope of survival outside of the Father’s calling. (See Who Are Led by Spirit?) Those that do not accept the heavenly calling are sure to die because the flesh is mortal:
“So, then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh to live in accord with the flesh; for if you live in accord with the flesh you are sure to die; but if you put the practices of the body to death by the spirit, you will live.” – Romans 8:12-13
It is truly sad that the Society actually teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses not to accept the calling. Perhaps you know of brothers who believed they had the witness of the spirit but were talked out of it by men. Those men carry a heavy burden for shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven; and those brothers who followed men instead of the spirit must turn back to the spirit if they are to be saved. We are doing our part to let all men know that the door is wide open for all who desire it. The Father’s call is open and welcoming. It is up to us to take life’s waters free. (Revelation 22:17)
We hope that answers your question.
♦ On what specific date did Jesus institute the Memorial supper?
On January 9, 2013, we received the following comment:
“I have a scriptural question that I would like to have answered, if at all possible. The question arises regarding the time of the Passover and which calendar Jesus used to celebrate the last supper. In Exodus 12:6 appears a controversial phrase . . . which means "between the two evenings." I have addressed this question to different Branches in several occasions and the answer I received was none or direct me to a WT article that I have read and is refuted by the information presented in this script. I turn to you as I know and I appreciate the utmost importance that you give to the Memorial as anointed brothers. Let us start: [Then the author sets forth a lengthy treatise on the Passover as set forth in the books of Moses, the historical record of the Essene Calendar, and the practices of the Samaritans, the Sadducees, and the Karaites.]
To the author, thank you for your email. We can imagine the difficulty your treatise posed to the branch offices of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. Aside from a devoted historian such as you appear to be, we wonder who else would have sufficient interest in the details of the matter to afford them the ability to adequately respond. We must confess that neither are we of that number.
Please know that while we do place the utmost importance on the Memorial, we do not concern ourselves at all with the Passover. As the Christian writings repeatedly explain, the Law and the customs under the Law are not binding on Jewish Christians, and certainly not binding on those who were never a part of the Law Covenant:
“Furthermore, though you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcised state of your flesh, [God] made you alive together with him. He kindly forgave us all our trespasses and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.” – Colossians 2:13-14
Furthermore, we can answer your question without the resorting to historical treatises on the Passover and how it has been, and/or is being, celebrated by various Jewish sects.
To us, it appears that Jesus instituted his supper and laid down his life the day before the Passover, on the Day of Preparation (Matthew 27:62), since it is unlikely that so much of the strict-observing Jewish nation would be involved in a trial and execution during the actual Passover night, rather than in solemn commemoration in their homes.
While Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate this day annually according to Jewish custom of annual celebrations, there are no specific instructions in the Christian writings that the Memorial of Christ’s death be celebrated only annually. According to Paul’s words, it appears that the day can be celebrated “as often as” one wants to.
“For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.” – 1 Corinthians 11:26
Therefore, we see no need to be overly concerned about which specific date in history Jesus instituted the meal. Our obligation is to ‘keep doing this.’ (Luke 22:19) And so we do.
♦ Follow up to Question and Response, January 9, 2013
On January 13, 2013, we received a follow-up comment in response to Question and Response dated January 9, 2013:
“Let me address some points about your answer to my treatise: [Author references The Insight Book 2 p. 626.] So Jesus did celebrate the Lord's Meal after celebrating Passover. As second line of proof that the time reckoning that Jesus used was according to the Pharisee's view and then celebrating the Passover and later Lord's meal on the evening ending Nisan 14th is that the outpouring of spirit in Pentecost only works using the Pharisees' reckoning of the Pentecost which count 50 days from Passover unlike the Saducce' and Kararites' point of view counting 50 days from the first Sunday after Passover. The time line in the Books of Acts proves this point. It would be unreasonable to think that Jesus follow a different method from ALL the existing Jews for calculating Passover and later appear on the Pentecost date according to the Pharisees.
“About how often the memorial should be celebrated, I want to point out that in the Memorial we commemorate Jesus' death and no the Lord's meal at least from the JW point of view as the invitations say: " The Memorial of Jesus Christ's Death". The early church commemorated Jesus' death and resurrection on the same day of the Jewish Passover. It was later when the Roman church wanted not to rely in Jewish calculations that they switched to the Friday of the week in which the Jewish Passover was. Then was when the church from Asia Minor followers of the John Gospel's chronology protested. This is a well-attested historical fact.
“About your quotation of 1 Cor 11:25,26 there is a Question from our readers 2003 1/1 p. 31 that in truth answers: [Cite to the article.] This connection with the annual Jewish Passover is further evidence that the Memorial of Jesus' death should be observed just once a year.
“Note: Compare the account at 1 Samuel 1:3, 7. There, "as often as" (in the modern translation of the Hebrew) refers to events that happened "from year to year," or once a year, when Elkanah and his two wives went to the tabernacle at Shiloh."
“Let us face the truth of facts and dwell not, please, in pre-conceive ideas. No matter the changes that this might bring about as you rightly encourage as well to the Governing Body to let go their bias and men-made traditions held by the leaders of our community.”
To the author, in practically all of our emails to you, we have tried to point you to the ‘spirit of the law’ and not the ‘letter of the law.’
“Now through the Christ we have this sort of confidence toward God. Not that we of ourselves are adequately qualified to reckon anything as issuing from ourselves, but our being adequately qualified issues from God, who has indeed adequately qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of a written code, but of spirit; for the written code condemns to death, but the spirit makes alive.” – 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
“But now we have been discharged from the Law, because we have died to that by which we were being held fast, that we might be slaves in a new sense by the spirit, and not in the old sense by the written code.” – Romans 7:6
Yet, in your responses, you always return to the letter. We fear we are not reaching you at all in our responses.
When you read the gospel accounts, surely you see that Jesus was not a strictly-observing Jew. He was a respectful Jew. He was not a slave to their traditions, and he was not ashamed to demonstrate that when necessary. Thus, it would not be out of step for Jesus to celebrate his evening meal a day earlier – on the Day of Preparation as Matthew reported. (Matthew 27:62) But the point is that the actual date is not the important thing. We are counseled against “scrupulously observing days and months and seasons and years.” As Paul wrote, we “fear for you, that somehow we have toiled to no purpose respecting you.” (Galatians 4:10-11)
Yet you seem determined to “give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness.” (Matthew 23:23) In this instance, the more weightier matters is that we do celebrate the meal, and as often as we do it, however often we decide, we ‘keep proclaiming the death of our Lord until he arrives.’ (1 Corinthians 11:26) Really what harm do you suppose would occur if we commemorated the meal more often than once a year? Would it provoke God's anger? Hardly!
Do you not perceive that the actual date is not of real significance to a Christian who was freed from legal bounds? Can you not discern in Jesus’ teachings a true and lasting message of freedom from tradition? What does it mean to you that Jesus came to “preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release”? (Luke 4:18) Is that not a promise of unfettered worship of the Father?
We certainly respect your Jewish heritage. But to a Christian, it is religious history. We all have differing racial backgrounds and histories. But in the Kingdom, we have a new spiritual genealogy that takes precedence:
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one [person] in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29
It is who you were; not who you are now that you have accepted the discipleship of the Christ. We encourage you not to follow the folly of trying to fit the new wine of Jesus’ teachings into the old wineskins of the Jewish system. As Jesus explained, such a joining will not end well. (Mark 2:22)
Dear Brother, take Jesus’ advice and ‘sell everything you own’ and purchase the field and the pearl of high value – the actual, original, plain and open teachings of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 13:44-46) This is the only path to salvation. The path you are on will lead you to several facts for sure, but it will not lead you to truth and eternal life. Nor will you gain the “peace of God that excels all thought.” (Philippians 4:7)
♦ 03/19/13b | Can I commemorate the Memorial alone?
On March 19, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Greetings Brothers, I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 35 years, but left about ten years ago. Since leaving the organization, I have continued to read and love the Bible, and I try to serve The Lord as best I can. I have recently come to realize my need to partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's command. In my reading of the Bible I realize this applies to all, and not just a select few. As a result of telling another ex Jehovah’s Witness about this, I was directed to this site. I found your articles about the Memorial very helpful, and I have noted some of the scriptural points you have made. I have a question I want to ask you.
“Where I live I have no access to other like minded people. My ex-Jehovah’s Witness friend lives hundreds of miles away from me. On Memorial night I dearly want to partake of the emblems. Would it be acceptable for me to do it alone at home? I think it would be, but I would appreciate your feedback, or any suggestions on the matter. Many thanks, and God bless you.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are glad that you have decided that you must partake in honor of the Christ. Because of your faith, you find yourself in the position that many ex-Witnesses find themselves. They want to partake and have a true fellowship of like minded people, but they do not know where to find them. We have a few suggestions.
1. If you have family and friends who are not yet like-minded, why not explain to them the Christian hope and invite them to share the Memorial Supper with you. That includes even your young children, if you have any.
2. You can go to a Memorial Supper hosted by Jehovah’s Witnesses in order to find other partakers with whom you can exchange numbers and develop a friendship. While some may not be like-minded yet, you might find many are, or at least they may be open to further discussion of the heavenly hope.
3. In our modern era, you can share a Memorial Supper with your friends by Skype, or FaceTime, or similar electronic means. Take advantage of these new avenues of communication.
4. And, of course, if there truly is no one to share the Supper with, then by all means, honor the Christ alone, knowing he is with you on this occasion by means of the Spirit of Truth.
If there are no like-minded Christians around you, then you have a wide open ministry. You do not have to go door to door, but you can talk to people in your day-to-day activities about the Christ and the heavenly hope and you can thereby develop a fellowship. You will be a true pioneer in your community!
This is an exciting time to recognize your sonship with God. A whole world will be opened to you, much more so that you now realize. We have so much more to share in this regard. Please stay tuned and let us know how you chose to commemorate the Memorial Supper.
♦ What do you think about the number of Memorial partakers in 2013?
On January 9, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“I have a question. The Yearbook 2014 has been published. What do you think about the numbers of Memorial partakers? It is real? ”
To the author, thank you for your email. You asked if the number is real. We believe you are asking whether the number is accurate. Our answer is NO.
First, we want to make it clear that the number is supposed to reflect those who partook of the Memorial emblems at the gatherings of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world on March 26, 2013. It is not a report of the total number of persons who have accepted the invitation to be anointed as faith sons of God who were living on earth at that time. Nevertheless, the Governing Body and its operatives have chosen to distort the number to suit their own agenda of promoting a false hope of everlasting life on earth. They are fearful of the growing number of the children of God and they believe that by distorting this number, they will somehow discourage them. A steady growth in the number of Memorial partakers is a threat to their central doctrines.
The number of partakers in 2012, as published in the 2013 Yearbook, was 12,604. The number of partakers in 2013, as published in the 2014 Yearbook, is 13,204 – an increase of exactly 600. That fact in itself raises questions about its accuracy. And we know firsthand and through personal emails that more than 600 new sons of the Kingdom partook with Jehovah’s Witnesses on that night.
According to the report we received, the 2014 Yearbook was delayed because the Governing Body and its operatives were distressed at the large number of partakers that were reported by the congregations. So they sent inquiries out to selected congregations where more partook than was expected, asking the body of elders to recheck their figures. They gave them certain criteria to use to decide which partakers were legitimate in their opinion and they were to only report those who the elders believed were genuinely ‘anointed.’ (Our article Defending Our Living Hope gives an account of how one congregation was targeted due to the large number of partakers.) As a result, the reports came in late which delayed the publication of the 2014 Yearbook, and the numbers were significantly reduced. So there was never an intent to truly report the number of partakers, let alone the number of anointed faith sons of God.
What is interesting is that they reported every single attendee, whether they were Christians or not, whether they were ‘mentally unstable’ or not, and whether they even understood the proceedings or not. They also counted those who were coerced to attend by family members, and those who have been disfellowshiped and disassociated, even though they will not allow anyone to speak to them! We wonder if they counted the infants being held in their parents’ arms. Yet, they make it a point to severely scrutinize any who dare to openly confess union with the Christ (Matthew 10:32-33) on the one night we are commanded to do so! (Luke 22:19) We even have reports that in some congregations, the servants refused to pass the emblems to some whom the elders believed wanted to partake! What a travesty! What an abomination to all that is righteous!
However, the most embarrassing thing is that the Governing Body is admitting that of the over 19 million who attended, only 13,204 of their number have a real relationship with the Father. This is nothing to boast over. It is a sad reflection of their impotence and their inability to build a true Christian congregation. (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:24)
We will have more to say about this matter in our upcoming Memorial articles. This is an important year for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but not necessarily in a favorable way, as will soon be seen. It does mark 100 years from their assumption that Christ did not begin ruling as king until 1914. But that is an insignificant milestone and a very small matter. The more important issue is that this is the ‘Father’s Acceptable Year’ (Luke 4:18-21) and the ‘time of their being inspected.’ (Luke 19:41-44) So far, they are not discerning this, and it does not look good. But we shall see.
In the meantime, do not be discouraged by their stubborn and rebellious ways. The faith sons of God are growing exponentially around the world. They are no longer looking to ‘this mountain’ or ‘that mountain.’ (John 4:21) They are not misled into believing the cries that ‘here is the Christ’ or ‘there is the Christ.’ (Matthew 24:23) They are serving with spirit and truth “for the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him.” (John 4:23) In truth, the actual ‘body of Christ,’ the Christian congregation of those who have accepted their sonship and are actively and knowingly pursuing the heavenly hope worldwide, far exceeds the total number of baptized publishers in the whole Watchtower organization!
Brothers, this is a great time to be alive and to confess union with Christ Jesus. And it is a special privilege to have a share in the authentic ministry Jesus started. We encourage all to stay close to the Father and to Christ Jesus and to expect the unexpected!
♦ When celebrating the Memorial at home, what kind of bread and wine should we use and can our children participate?
On February 7, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“I have a question. To partake, does it have to be Unleavened Bread and Unfermented Wine? If so, any recipe/suggestions... etc? Me and my wife are looking forward for it. We are planning on doing a nice dinner as family and then do the honors. We also have something planned for our daughters too. Should they participate as well (partaking), even when they are so little (6 and 8)?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We rejoice in your determination to have a sharing with Christ Jesus without hindrance by having a private Memorial Supper in your home with your entire family. That is how we do it – a modest dinner, followed by prayer, the Memorial emblems, and uplifting conversation. We suspect others are planning to do the same and have questions similar to yours, so we are responding publicly.
As far as the type of bread and wine, we already provided some information on this in the article, Keep Doing This In Remembrance of Me. In the article, we also state that the drink does not have to be wine since many adults choose to strictly abstain from alcohol. We suggest that grape juice or any other type of drink would be sufficient. Please see the article for our reasoning on this issue and if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to write us again.
As far as your little ones, remember Jesus said:
“Then young children were brought to him for him to place his hands on them and offer prayer, but the disciples reprimanded them. Jesus, however, said: “Let the young children alone, and do not try to stop them from coming to me, for the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to such ones.” – Matthew 19:13-14
Our children are also recipients of the blessings and liberty that Jesus brought and proclaimed, and they are also invited to follow Jesus into the heavenly abodes that he has prepared for us. (John 14:2) There is no better way of assuring our children will continue in ‘straight paths’ than to begin early helping them establish a personal relationship with the Father and fostering the heavenly hope as a real living hope. The scriptures encourage developing spirituality in children from a young age:
“Train a boy in the way he should go; Even when he grows old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
“These words that I am commanding you today must be on your heart, and you must inculcate them in your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as a reminder on your hand, and they must be like a headband on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” –Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Just as the entire Mosaic Law was impressed on the Hebrew children, so the ‘new covenant’ should be written in the hearts of Christian children. (Hebrews 8:10-12)
Remember, too, at the Jewish Passover, the children ate and drank with their parents. They even had a special part in the evening. According to the Pesach Haggadah, the book read from during the Passover celebration, the youngest person at the table who is capable of reciting is asked to recite the phrase: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” It is meant to express the child's confusion at the difference between a typical everyday or holiday meal and the unusual features of the Passover Seder. From this point, an adult begins to recite its meaning. This demonstrates how important it was, and is, for the Jewish people to involve their children in their religion.
This is an excellent example to Christian parents of the need to include their children in the Memorial Supper of the Christ. And not just to participate, but to understand its importance. It is a great opportunity to have our children speak openly about the Christ on that evening, if possible, along with the adults, so they will truly feel a part of it.
In time, all of us adults will be released from the body and begin the heavenly ascent, at which time we will be leaving the earth and the ministry to the next generation, our children. By instilling in them the Christian hope and by showing them how to develop a close relationship with the Father and Christ Jesus, our children will be able to bring our world closer and closer to the beautiful conditions prophesied about by the Hebrew prophets, where our entire planet will be inhabited by ‘meek’ people. We, today, are working to bring heaven down. If our children carry on our legacy, what a wonderful world this could be!
Since this type of Memorial Supper will be different for many of our brothers who choose to commemorate the night privately, please feel free to share your ideas for the evening, and also do not forget to share your experience afterward. Last year, one of our most popular pages on our site was Memorial Experiences 2013. So we are very exited about the 2014 Memorial. And we will be publishing more articles on the Supper as the day draws near.
♦ Is it premature to suggest that people not attend the 2014 Memorial hosted by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
On February 7, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“After more than 7 months I am compelled to write to you today. Please know that I check your website for updates everyday and I deeply appreciate the spiritually uplifting effect of your articles. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into them. I hope and pray that more, in fact all, Jehovah's Witnesses are awakened to the plain, open and authentic teachings of Jesus. I hope it is a sign of spiritual growth that my reaction to your John 6:53-56 quote today was "this is so obvious...how did I not see this in times gone by!"
“However, having spent many weeks and months working up the courage to partake at the forthcoming Memorial (and I'm not saying that I have all the courage I need yet), I can't pretend that I wasn't a little disappointed at the suggestion to not take a stand in front of other Witnesses on April 14th. Of course, I agree with you that our current celebration bears little resemblance to the one Jesus instituted but it seemed to me that this was the one thing that might precipitate change in an organization that I believe has tremendous potential for good.
“Surely the Governing Body would not continue to ignore an increase in partakers that called the current understanding into serious doubt? If that is so, would it not be better for Sons of God that are still in 'good standing' to express their conviction in larger numbers so we expose this error for what it is? Rest assured, I do not seek the limelight... in fact I've been thinking about how best slip under the radar but still be counted.
“I anticipate your response might be that they have already ignored a significant increase, but was it truly large enough for them not to take notice? If we could get 1% of the baptized publishers to partake I suspect a change (of some kind) would be unavoidable... don't you think?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are very glad that you are turning to the Christ and the true Christian hope. We have full confidence that you will garner the courage to step up and do what you know to be right.
And we certainly understand your arguments in support of participating in the 2014 Memorial with the Watchtower organization, and we agree that the organization has tremendous potential for good. However, the Governing Body is squandering this ‘talent’ given them, and there is currently no sign that they will properly ‘do business’ with that talent. (Matthew 25:14-30) While we have given up our direct communications with them, we believe the recent call to commemorate the Memorial Supper at private gatherings will provide another opportunity and a wakeup call to the Governing Body that might inspire them to make needed changes. Let us explain.
You suggested: Surely the Governing Body would not continue to ignore an increase in partakers that called the current understanding into serious doubt? If that is so, would it not be better for Sons of God that are still in 'good standing' to express their conviction in larger numbers so we expose this error for what it is? . . . I anticipate your response might be that they have already ignored a significant increase, but was it truly large enough for them not to take notice? If we could get 1% of the baptized publishers to partake I suspect a change (of some kind) would be unavoidable... don't you think?
Dear brother, we believe a large enough number did partake at the 2013 Memorials hosted by the Watchtower organization. Although they reported only 600 new partakers in the 2014 Yearbook, our reports indicate the number of new, first-time partakers reported by the congregations worldwide was almost 20 times that amount. Surely, that is enough new partakers to get their attention. Instead, of publicly acknowledging these developments, the Governing Body hid this information and scrambled to do ‘damage control.’
They sent letters to certain congregations where there was a significant increase in partakers, and they even sent out emissaries to some congregations to speak with these new partakers firsthand with the intent to discourage them and convince them that they could not be anointed. This latter tactic backfired, as we explained in the article Defending Our Living Hope. Instead of discouraging these new ones, the emissaries themselves were profoundly affected. We understand that at least 3 of the brothers who were sent out on these missions were so impressed by the new partakers that they no longer serve at Bethel. Their experience was similar to what occurred when the chief priests and Pharisees sent out officers to entrap and arrest Jesus:
“The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things about him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees dispatched officers to get hold of him. . . . Therefore the officers went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, and the latter said to them: ‘Why is it you did not bring him in?’ The officers replied: ‘Never has [another] man spoken like this.’” – John 7:32, 45-46
It may appear to many that the Governing Body is worried that an increase in the number of partakers challenges their teaching that the number would decrease as a sign of the end. However, their biggest concern is that the growing number of partakers casts a shadow on their “new light” as to the meaning of ‘this generation’ as explained in the January 15, 2014 Watchtower, page 31, paragraphs 15-16:
“15. In his detailed prophecy about the conclusion of this system of things, Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.” (Read Matthew 24:33-35.) We understand that in mentioning “this generation,” Jesus was referring to two groups of anointed Christians. The first group was on hand in 1914, and they readily discerned the sign of Christ’s presence in that year. Those who made up this group were not merely alive in 1914, but they were spirit-anointed as sons of God in or before that year. —Rom. 8:14-17.
“16. The second group included in “this generation” are anointed contemporaries of the first group. They were not simply alive during the lifetime of those in the first group, but they were anointed with holy spirit during the time that those of the first group were still on earth. Thus, not every anointed person today is included in “this generation” of whom Jesus spoke. Today, those in this second group are themselves advancing in years. Yet, Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:34 give us confidence that at least some of “this generation will by no means pass away” before seeing the start of the great tribulation. This should add to our conviction that little time remains before the King of God’s Kingdom acts to destroy the wicked and usher in a righteous new world. — 2 Pet. 3:13.”
This blatant perversion of the plain and simple word “this” has created a whole new doctrine for them. So as a guise and a ruse for achieving their intent to not report the actual number of partakers, they advised certain bodies of elders where the number of partakes was unusually high to exclude from their reports those who could not have been a part of the so-called ‘second group of anointed’ based on their convoluted explanation of ‘this generation.’ This automatically excluded the teenagers, the young adults, and all the adults under a certain age, perhaps under 50. And they can play this game every year so that no matter how many brothers step up and partake, they will not be counted.
So, we thought of another way to get their attention. The Governing Body is clearly not interested in reporting the true number of partakers, but they are certainly concerned about reporting a high number of attendees. Thus, if the number of attendees drops significantly, they will surely take note.
Based on their proclamations that a sign of ‘Babylon the Great’ is the drying up of her waters – meaning a drop in the number of people attending their churches – they will surely be shamed if their own ‘waters’ dry up. For that reason, we believe, or at least hope, that if the number of Memorial attendees drops from 19 million to even 18 million, they will take note. Though we strongly hope the number drops significantly more than that. And of course, with a drop in the number of attendees, that will result in a corresponding drop in contributions. That will get their notice!
But do not misconstrue our words as an attack on the Governing Body or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our goal is not just to move the Governing Body to action. Our primary goal is to honor the Christ and currently that cannot be done at the Memorials hosted by the Watchtower organization. Moving the Governing Body to act is an additional benefit, motivated by brotherly love, that, if successful, can result in the salvation of nearly 20 million people.
We hope our brothers and sisters have the love and the courage to turn away from the Watchtower Memorials for the good of their sleeping brothers and sisters, the Governing Body, and the entire Christian community that takes note. And we hope that they choose to commemorate a true Memorial Supper among their true brothers in Christ in private gatherings.
At this late date, only Jehovah’s Witnesses can save Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any outside influence or pressure will be ignored or labeled as persecution. But what can the Governing Body say when its adherents simply turn to serving Christ and shake the dust off their feet? The most painful act that can be inflicted on a narcissist is for the public to simply ignore them. This may be the last opportunity for the narcissist body of men who lead Jehovah’s Witnesses to be moved to change.
If you, or any of our visitors have comments about this matter, please do not hesitate to write us.
♦ What sort of persons should we invite to our private Memorial Suppers?
On February 8, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“Hi brothers, I think your idea of celebrating the Lords evening meal in private homes is excellent and the right thing to do. Once again thank you for great articles. However I would like to have your second opinion regarding specific matters. For me there seems to be a paradox between how Jesus is including individuals in the Kingdom of the heavens even those considered unclean and outcasts in ancient Israel (tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals etc.) vs. how Paul is excluding those Jesus included (read 1 Cor. 6). In contrast to Paul, Jesus promised the criminal on the stake a place in heaven without conversion and amazingly enough, Judas Iscariot got his feet washed by Jesus himself on the very last supper. My questions are:
“How should we deal with the paradox approach between Jesus and Paul and others?
"How should we deal with individuals who want to celebrate the memorial that presently may find themselves in the category Paul was excluding in 1 Cor. 6?
“Do you think we are celebrating the memorial in an unworthy way if we allow such individuals to be present and even partake?”
To the author, thank you for your email. We want to take this opportunity to thank all of our visitors who are inquiring about celebrating the Memorial. This is one of the most important subjects for consideration at this time. Since we are expressly encouraging our brothers to celebrate the Memorial in private gatherings, we expect there will be many questions. So, we ask all who have questions not to hesitate to write to us. It is most likely that others will have the same question and will be benefitted by your inquiry.
We truly believe that the questions we receive about the Memorial are all spirit-led, even the question that formed the basis of the article Fleeing From Hypocrisy. By that brother’s courage in openly expressing his sincere feelings, many of our brothers who were on the fence or not sure whether it is appropriate to flee from religious captivity have been encouraged and uplifted and know that they must partake at the Memorial Supper if they are to be in union with Christ. So, please brothers, keep the questions coming.
This brother asked: “How should we deal with the paradox approach between Jesus and Paul and others?” We first want to say that whenever there is a conflict between what Jesus said and what any other person said, no matter how honorable, we always side with Jesus. We take this position because when the conflict appears in the Bible, it is often only an ‘apparent conflict,’ and a deeper examination may reveal that there is, in fact, no true conflict.
In the example you give, Jesus was indeed in the company of tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals, etc. Here is one account:
“And as he was passing by, he caught sight of Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: “Be my follower.” At that he rose up and followed him. Later he was dining in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many of them who were following him. But when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they began saying to his disciples: “Does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them: “Those who are strong do not need a physician, but those who are ill do. I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.” – Mark 2:14-17
Jesus’ interaction with those who were disapproved by the scribes and Pharisees was to encourage and uplift those individuals. He was letting them know what he was about and letting his light shine on them, not the other way around. He was not engaging in improper acts with them, nor were these individuals doing anything improper in Jesus’ presence. But change must begin at some point. In order for one to put on ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16), they will have to know what that entails.
“For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? “– Romans 10:13-14 - New International Version
Reconciliation to God begins with spiritual association. Of course, that does not mean that we would engage in, or be spectators of, practices that are not in line with the mind of Christ, but we surely can spend time speaking about the good news of the kingdom with those who are just beginning the race for the real life. We are referring to spiritual, not recreational, association. We believe this is in harmony with Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians congregation. Paul wrote:
“Or do you not know that unrighteous people will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Do not be misled. Those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who submit to homosexual acts, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners will not inherit God’s Kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean; you have been sanctified; you have been declared righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
And keep in mind that sin is sin. Notice greed and drunkenness is viewed by Paul with as much disapproval as adultery and homosexuality. This is an important point to remember. If you are going to avoid association with those viewed as sinners, at least be consistent.
While it is always wise to be selective in our personal associations, we must remember that we do not have Jesus’ ability to read hearts and minds. Some people engage in sinful acts out of greed or an evil heart. But others find themselves engaged in sinful acts for other reasons that are not always understood and that do not arise from a sinful heart. We believe this is why Jesus could welcome the evil doer into Paradise, as recorded by Luke:
“Then one of the criminals hanging there began to speak abusively to him, saying: ‘You are the Christ, are you not? Save yourself and us too!’ In response the other rebuked him, saying: ‘Do you not fear God at all, now that you have received the same judgment? And we rightly so, for we are getting back what we deserve for the things we did; but this man did nothing wrong.’ Then he said: ‘Jesus, remember me when you get into your Kingdom.’ And he said to him: ‘Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.’” – Luke 23:39-43
In three sentences, Jesus was able to discern that this sinner was not an evil man. He was more likely weak or misled in some other way that was reversible. At the end of his life, this evildoer demonstrated a heart that the Father could work with.
You asked: “How should we deal with individuals who want to celebrate the memorial that presently may found themselves in the category Paul were excluding in 1 Cor. 6?' An answer can be found in the Parable of the Wedding Feast. (Matthew 22:2-14) Here, a king prepared a wedding feast for his son and invited those one might call ‘righteous.’ But each begged off and did not wish to attend. In response, the king sent his servants out in the streets to invite all sorts of people, ‘both wicked and good.’ (Matthew 22:10) He only had one requirement, that they come dressed to participate in and honor a wedding feast. (Matthew 22:11-14)
In a similar way, we are free to invite to our Memorial Suppers all sorts of people, including some who fall into the categories you are referring to. But they must come prepared to participate and have a sharing with the Christ. Obviously, they should not bring with them their sinful conduct. That matter must be left ‘outside.’ We should, of course, be discreet in who we invite to our homes or private gatherings. We should make sure those we invite sincerely want to have a sharing with Christ. In other words, let the reader use discernment!
There are many, many people in our society who have good hearts, but for some reason or another find themselves dominated by sin. In our ministry, we discovered that many people who are entrapped by sin are simply weak and not up for the challenge of life as it is lived on earth today. They need help and encouragement, not rejection and condemnation. This change must begin somewhere. Perhaps by being in association with true lovers of Christ and hearing the good news of the heavenly kingdom and testimonies of faith, they will be moved to change their conduct so that it becomes more Christlike – loving the Father with their whole being and loving their brother as themselves. (Matthew 22:27-40)
You asked: “Do you think we are celebrating the memorial in an unworthy way if we allow such individuals to be present and even partake?” For the reasons set forth above, we do not believe having sinners in our midst makes us unworthy. Remember, we are all sinners in some way and are all working to ‘be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:48)
Additionally, choosing to allow or disallow someone to partake of the Christ is not within our jurisdiction. We must stop judging another’s worthiness to have a relationship with the Father. (Matthew 7:1-5) Our obligation is to let our lights shine on others so that they, too, can give glory to God. (Matthew 5:16) We are not middlemen or mediators such that others must first pass our personal inspections before they can have a sharing with Christ. Paul wrote:
“This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of people should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:3-5
So, we must be content to let Jesus choose to whom he will open the door to the heavens, and let Jesus decide to whom he will say “get away from me!” (Matthew 7:21-23) If someone comes mentally and spiritually prepared to share with Christ, who are we to prevent them? In the same way that we have been welcomed to share with Christ, we must welcome others. If someone is unacceptable, let it be the Father or Christ Jesus who makes that determination.
For our part, it seems far wiser to err on the side of tolerance, patience and love, all the while remembering Jesus’ counsel:
“Look! I am sending you out as sheep among wolves; so prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves.” –Matthew 10:15
♦ Brother is determined to celebrate the Memorial Supper with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
On February 9, 2014, we received the following comment:
“I read your [Question and Response 2/7/14b]. I think if I were [Governing Body], I'd be overjoyed. The number of anointed will drop in next yearbook depending on your reach, and they will reinforce their grip on the millions of lost sheep. “See, the anointed are dropping again! False alarm, the end is near!” Jesus continued to go to the synagogue, and even Timothy was circumcised for the purpose of winning the Jews. It's part of our testimony to not deny the Son in front of others. If we are withdrawing, this testimony is not made. I'm ready to make sure all continue to come to me in the hall and ask questions about sonship. This is part of my ministry and I make it easier for others to partake.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are certain your intentions are honorable, but we believe you may be setting yourself up for great disappointment. As we mentioned in the Question and Response 2/7/14b, the Governing Body has devised a method whereby no matter how many new ones partake, the vast majority will not be counted. Since that would be the only reason why a son of God would participate in such a sham Memorial, we have encouraged the sons of God to participate in a Memorial Supper that truly honors the Christ, where the Christ is at center stage, where the joy of the heavenly hope can be discussed out loud and with enthusiasm and freeness of speech. That means, in private gatherings away from those hosted by the Watchtower organization.
Having said that, you are certainly free to do as you choose. But we urge you to take to heart what we have written so that if your method does not produce the fruitage you are expecting, or if you become a ‘spiritual martyr,’ you will understand why. We have learned that those who trust more deeply in the leadership of the Governing Body are the very ones who turn into ‘Sauls’ as mentioned in the article Converting Pauls to Sauls, when their expectations are not met.
From the emails you have sent us in the past, we believe your heart is in the right place. And so we will pray for your courage, strength and endurance, as you will surely need it.
♦ Can I celebrate the Memorial alone? (How to invite others.)
On February 11, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“My friends, Thank you for your kind response to my question. It has only reinforced what I have always believed. Unfortunately during this upcoming memorial season, I am completely alone here in the Northern California area. After reading "A Memorial of Offense", it only seemed too obvious of what has been going on. So many of the friends just take as "Gospel" anything that is printed in the Watchtower publications by the Governing Body without really researching the facts for themselves. They are either afraid of what they will find or what someone might say, or they are too complacent/lazy to research, possibly save themselves, their friends and family. Most will say that "millions of us can't be wrong. Surely Jehovah is blessing and directing our efforts." The next couple of Watchtower studies and Service Meeting parts of which I was supposed to conduct just finally made me make some serious decisions. It would be nice to meet up with those of the same mindset as sons of God for the annual observance. I've tried to be discrete, but there doesn't seem to be anyone here of the same understanding. Do we just do it alone? Would that be acceptable?
“This week I tried to step down as an elder for "personal reasons" and all I could get was, "let's see how you feel about it few weeks/month. The other brothers will just pick up your assignments". I'm trying not to make waves so that I can give food and continue to interject the glorious hope ahead that so many are missing. But it is obvious due to my reaffirmed faith that this will be a permanent decision. At some point though, it seems that it is only a matter of time before we as sons of God are to be united in various localities to bring a shout of praise to our Savior together. I welcome your thoughts. Your brother.”
To the author, congratulations on your courageous stand and your determination to follow the Christ. Last year, we received an email from a sister with a similar question about celebrating the Memorial alone. Please take a look at it, Question and Response 3/19/13-2. Our direct answer is that you certainly can commemorate the Memorial Supper alone. Many did last year. But it is much better and more fulfilling if you can share the evening with others who have a love for Christ and wish to have a sharing with him.
And we would like you to consider these additional ideas:
1. If you have a wife and children, you can make the Memorial Supper the subject of your ‘family studies.’ After explaining the importance of participating, perhaps you can share with them your intentions and see if they would want to participate with you.
2. If you currently have Bible students whom you would ordinarily invite to the Memorial, why not have a series of discussion with them about the important of the Memorial and invite them to share the Memorial Supper with you.
3. Spend the next several weeks leading up to the Memorial in discussion with extended family, friends, and workmates about the Memorial Supper and you can invite those who wish to partake with Christ to commemorate the Supper with you. You will find that your family, friends or workmates who are already Christians, who have not been tainted with the idea of an ‘earthly hope,’ will be honored to share the Supper with you.
In your discussions, be sure to explain that sharing in the Memorial Supper is a natural and normal requirement for a Christian and the entire Christian family, just as the Passover was a celebration that included every member of the Jewish family. The old covenant was for Abraham’s children – the entire nation. The likewise the new covenant is for the entire believing Christian nation, which is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), also, referred to as ‘Abraham’s children.’
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s offspring, heirs with reference to a promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29
By partaking at the Memorial Supper, we are openly confessing union with Christ so that he will openly confess union with us. (Matthew 10:32-33)
One does not need to experience some supernatural manifestation in order to ‘qualify’ to partake. The Watchtower Society has created a false teaching that only 144,000 qualify to partake. This doctrine is so blatantly in error that we wonder how we even believed it ourselves. We show this clear error in the article The Great Crowd of Partakers. The Watchtower Society has also created a false mystique around the term ‘anointed’ such that the average Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot understand its simplicity. See Question and Response 2/23/12 where we discuss this in more detail.
In its simplest term, being anointed means being led by spirit – following its leadings, making decisions based on the will of God. But even if one cannot yet accept this simple truth that the heavenly hope is for all, they should still understand that unless they partake of the Christ, they will not gain everlasting life or a resurrection under any circumstances:
“So Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day.” – John 6:53-54
You have some time until the Memorial, on April 14, 2014, to work these things out. And during that time, your circumstances may change, and you may be blessed with spiritual brothers and sisters to share the evening with.
This year, we encourage all our brothers to expect the unexpected. And whatever happens with you, we hope you will share your experience with us. After the Memorial, we will be posting a page, Memorial Experience 2014, for the encouragement of all who had a share in that most holy night.
♦ Why don’t we just count ourselves since the Governing Body will not?
On February 12, 2014, we received the following comment in connection with the Governing Body’s refusal to count all of the MemorialA partakers:
“Why not count ourselves. Do you think there is any way to count all partakers outside the kingdom hall? One could send the email-address as identifier of each individual. If that is done every year you can measure our growth. Just an idea. Keep up the Good work.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We have thought about this also, but even if we implemented a way whereby our brothers could send us a report of how many partook at their private Memorial Suppers, that would be no guarantee that it was accurate since we would have no way of knowing if every partaker responded. But we do have confidence that Christ Jesus and our celestial family know the number, since ‘every hair of our heads are numbered.’ (Matthew 10:30)
We can share that our current reports indicate that the number of openly confessing ‘sons of God’ and ‘heirs to the kingdom of the heavens’ who understand Jesus’ plain and open teachings has reached 8 million. A little more than 1 million are part of the Jehovah’s Witness community, but not all of them have yet openly participated in a Memorial Supper. That may sound like a lot, but there are a little over 7 BILLION people on the planet, so all who join with the Christ still have a lot more work to do.
As you see, we are not solely concerned about Memorial partakers among Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are hoping that in time, the entire Christian community– and eventually the entire planet – will set aside at least this one day per year to honor our Leader, our Creator, and ‘the one to whom every knee should bend.’ (Matthew 23:10; John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-16; Philippians 2:10)
So rather than implementing a way to count the number of partakers at the private Memorial Suppers, we encourage all, who are willing and able, to share their experiences of the evening with us for the edification and upbuilding of the Jesus brotherhood. That may include the number of participants, but more importantly, we hope it will show the courage and love of our brothers for Christ Jesus and for one another.
♦ Can I partake at the Memorial if my life is not ‘in order’?
On February 12, 2014, we had the following email exchange in connection with Question and Response 2/8/14:
“Thank your very much for your reply. I agree 100 % with your feedback when it comes how to deal with fellow man vs. the memorial. My follow up question is how should we deal with ourselves?
“Let's say that we as individuals feel strongly touched by the message of sonship but at the same time find ourselves in life situations, that by the letters of Paul, in one way or the other, is depicted as reasons for being excluded from the kingdom of the heavens. Shall we as individuals take a personal responsibility to set things straight before we attend or even participate at the memorial, or can this very event be considered as step in the process of fully adopting the mind of Christ?"
Thank you for this email. We want you to know that your emails to us are held in strict confidentiality. We do not and will not divulge any personal identifiable information about our visitors. Additionally, you will find that our responses are more in line with what one would expect from the Christ than what one would expect from the apostles, even Paul. That is because we are not ‘congregators’ (we are not establishing congregations) so we have no need to decide who is and who is not ‘good association.’ This ministry is truly spirit directed – by the Spirit of Truth, the representative of the glorified Christ. We are not saying these things to brag or boast, but to assure you of our utmost concern for your spiritual well being. We are solely concerned with the spiritual growth of our brothers and their developing a strong personal relationship with the Father.
Having said that, we perceive that your question has a specific subject matter in mind. If so, please feel free to be open and frank so that we can provide the best spiritual direction and advice as possible. This ministry is largely driven by the questions we receive from our visitors. If certain questions are not asked, it may be some time before those issues will be addressed here. So again, please feel free to be open with us.
Of course, if we are mistaken, and you are simply seeking general information, we will provide a general response on our site. Before we do so, please let us know if there is something in particular you are inquiring about.
The reply from our Brother:
“Thanks for your reply. I think it's great that you don't have intentions to be congregators, neither do I. Well aware of that, some of us are more or less traumatized by earlier spiritual abuse. Make no mistake I'm not asking for "go or not go", rather guidelines of how to think and reason in the matter. "Congregators” and not the least experiences of Jehovah’s Witnesses have affected our thinking and attitudes for good and for bad. Some of us, which you also have highlighted in your articles, almost lost faith in God and Jesus due to the aftermath when leaving the congregation. Your website has a strong impact. The idea of getting rebooted spiritually or rather getting charged with the spirit of truth, based on the plain and simple teaching of Christ, for the first time in life is indeed refreshing.
“However the thought of participating at the Memorial takes some time to digest due to the doctrine of the selected few of 144 000. Further the illustrations laid out by Paul of being "united in the body of Christ" or integrated in the "temple of Christ" is thought-provoking and Galatians 5 makes me uncertain of how to think.
“I have open discussions of celebrating the Memorial with some friends who also belonged to my former congregation. One question discussed is if we as individuals, provided we know that we don’t meet the admonitions of Paul, have do the homework of setting our life straight before we have a share in the Memorial even if we feel touched by the message of son-ship?
“To be frank: We are talking about an individual who is in the process of divorce and has entered in a new relationship. Another is concerned about his struggle with addiction to alcohol. Of course we can always turn to Galatians 5 and refer to the fruits of the spirit and the works of the flesh and consider "case closed." But again I'm not asking for "go or not go" but rather guidelines of how to think and reason in the matter. Keep up your good work.”
Dear brother, never let your current situation prevent you from having a sharing with Christ. And never, ever, prevent anyone else from having such a share. No matter where one stands on the scale of ‘righteous conduct,’ all are obligated to ‘eat and drink of the Son of man’ or we will have no life in ourselves, we will not be in union with Christ ,and we will not be resurrected. (John 6:53-56) This is our primary priority. Without it, no amount of ‘righteous conduct’ will save us.
We suspect that some will have in mind the counsel from Paul:
"Consequently whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and thus let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. For he that eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment against himself if he does not discern the body.” – 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
But this counsel has to do with how we approach the Memorial Supper, not with our personal conduct. (See the article Eating and Drinking Worthily.) The fact is that we all commit sins of some kind. It is the nature of living in fleshly bodies. As you contemplate the matters described in the 5th chapter of Galatians, you will note that being jealous or having angry outbursts are condemned right along side sexual immorality and drunkenness. Yet, we doubt anyone would turn away from the Memorial Supper because they struggle with jealousy.
We should, of course, all strive to do the Father’s will ‘to be perfect as He is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48), by doing the best and right thing under the circumstances. We should never cease in this endeavor. But neither should we allow our failings to prevent us from the one thing that will give us the opportunity to truly be washed forever clean in the Kingdom of the Heavens. All of the guilt and shame that accompanies our shortcomings can be eased by heeding the Master’s call to take his yoke and place it upon ourselves, knowing that in the heavenly ascent, we will climb to perfection as Christ Jesus completes his ministry as the ‘Chief Agent and perfecter of our faith.’ (Hebrews 12:2)
Everlasting life is dependent upon us choosing to do the Father’s will, as demonstrated and taught by Jesus of Nazareth. When our hearts desire God, our soul knows God, and our mind believes God, then our survival is assured. That is the meaning of the ‘first and greatest commandment.’ (Matthew 22:37-38) So, limitations of intellect, education, culture, social and economic status, even a failure to live up to human standards of morality, as a result of the unfortunate lack of advantages or genetic mishaps, cannot invalidate the future of believing individuals.
Our challenge in the flesh is to keep hoping, keep knocking, and keep seeking knowledge, understanding, wisdom and faith, and ‘love God with our whole being and our neighbors as ourselves.’ In so doing, we fulfill all divine requirements on this side of the real life which can give us the moral strength to conform our conduct and make our minds over to the best of our ability so as to foster good relationships with one another.
And we should never forget, minimize or underestimate the infinite love of the Father and its expression through Christ Jesus. Really, brother, the bar is low. The yoke is kindly and the load is light. (Matthew 11:30) It is man that has made worship so complicated. So, have faith. Love God and your brothers. Confess union with the Christ. And live.
♦ What kind of meal should we serve at the Memorial?
On February 20, 2014, we received the following inquiry:
“I want to say Thank You again for all that you do. I look forward to each Email Alert. I read the last email about the brother getting ready for the Memorial Supper and they were going to have a meal. My question is what kind of food (besides the bread and wine) would someone serve at this most special event? With Christian Love.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We, too, were encouraged by the brother’s email, and we have heard from others who are making similar preparations.
As far as an appropriate meal, what we can say is that it should not overshadow the main event. Special occasion foods, such as what one might prepare for a holiday celebration, might be a bit much. These scriptures might provide some guidance:
“Now as they went on their way, he entered into a certain village. Here a woman named Martha received him as a guest in her house. She also had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and kept listening to what he was saying. Martha, on the other hand, was distracted with attending to many duties. So she came to him and said: ‘Lord, does it not matter to you that my sister has left me alone to attend to things? Tell her to come and help me.’ In answer the Lord said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and disturbed about many things. A few things, though, are needed, or just one. For her part, Mary chose the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.’” – Luke 10:38-42
“On this account I say to you: Stop being anxious about your lives as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not life mean more than food and the body than clothing?” – Matthew 6:25
"With that he called the crowd near and said to them: ‘Listen and get the sense of it: It is not what enters into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but it is what comes out of his mouth that defiles him.’” –Matthew 15:10-11
“Eat whatever is sold in a meat market, making no inquiry because of your conscience, for ‘to Jehovah belong the earth and everything in it.’ If an unbeliever invites you and you want to go, eat whatever is set before you, making no inquiry on account of your conscience. But if anyone says to you, ‘This is something offered in sacrifice,’ do not eat because of the one who told you and because of conscience. I do not mean your own conscience, but that of the other person. For why should my freedom be judged by another person’s conscience? If I am partaking with thanks, why am I to be spoken of abusively over that for which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” – 1 Corinthians 10:25-31
The way we see it, you are free to have whatever foods you like. Just be careful not to get so overtaken by the pre-Memorial meal and find yourselves bloated, imbibed, and incapable of carrying on spirit-filled conversations, thus ‘eating and drinking unworthily.’ (See Eating and Drinking Worthily.) The highlight of the evening should be the mutual sharing with Christ and the mutual encouragement of one another. This is one reason why it is good to share the night with like-minded Christ-following, God-oriented brothers and sisters. Spectators would only serve to stifle communication and create division.
We look at the Memorial Supper as the beginning of a new year where we make our plans for the upcoming 12-month period, becoming more resolute in our worship and our ministry. You might want to take this opportunity to make your own forward-looking plans on how you can develop your own spirituality and have a greater share in promoting and completing Jesus’ ministry.
We hope this helps.
♦ Do I need to confess my sins to the Elders before I can partake at the Memorial?
On February 22, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Hi brothers! Thank you so much for all the great articles you have published. It is truly wonderful to know that our great Father in heaven cares for us, His children! I have a question to ask you. I have sinned (fornicated) and have not confessed it to the elders. My question is: Do I have to do it before the Memorial to be worthy to partake of the emblems? This has tormented me, to be unworthy to partake. I know that the blood of our savior, Jesus Christ, can cleanse my sins. We always have been instructed to go to the elders to set things straight. Is that right? I'm so afraid to go to them.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We publish our response here because we believe others might have similar concerns.
We have already answered a similar question about whether one needs to be sinless or sin-free before one can partake of the Memorial emblems. See Question and Response 2/12/14b. The Father and Christ Jesus knew, before the offer of sonship was made, before the Memorial Supper was instituted, that we were sinners. They also knew we would continue to sin that is why faith and belief is emphasized by Jesus more than works and personal righteousness. (John 3:16; John 6:40; John 6:47; John 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13) This may be a bold statement, but it is quite possible to sin and still believe and exercise faith. You know this first hand or you would not have written this email.
We also direct you to some information we published on the depth of the Father’s forgiveness in Question and Response 4/7/12-3 where we wrote:
“We find the problem with mankind in general is that many fail to appreciate the depth of divine forgiveness. We ask you, how often do you think loving and intelligent parents must forgive their erring offspring? We think, not too often. Not because the children do not err. But because there exists an intimate and understanding relationship between the two that prevent estrangements that necessitate repentance by the child and forgiveness by the parent.
"The parent is able to view the immaturity of the child in the light of the more advanced parental maturity. The child, being immature and lacking in the fuller understanding of the depth of the child-parent relationship, frequently feels a sense of guilty separation from a parent’s full approval. But a true parent is never conscious of any such separation such that repentance and forgiveness need come into play.”
We are the faith-children of a mature, loving and intelligent parent – the Universal Father of All. Many times, when we have sinned, our guilty conscience causes us to separate from Him. But He does not separate from us. Repentance is not for God’s benefit as if we need to coax Him to return His favor to us. Repentance is for us – so that we can abandon the guilt, re-orient ourselves toward the Father and move forward. When we understand the depth of the Father’s mercy, the second part of your question – whether you need to confess your sins to the Elders to set things straight – become clearer.
Confessing sins to men is not for the purpose of setting things straight between you and God, but for setting things straight between you and your brother, or between you and the one or ones you sinned against.
“Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go and reveal his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” – Matthew 18:15
While James does suggest that one can call the Elders to pray with ‘sick’ ones (James 5:13-15), the Elders’ involvement is for the purpose of helping the ‘sick’ one to go to the Father in prayer to seek forgiveness. We read nothing in the scriptures that requires Christians to confess their sins to Elders as a prerequisite to ‘get right’ with God.
However, we do recognize an organization or a church’s right to establish its own rules of conduct. Jehovah’s Witnesses require those who commit ‘serious sin’ to confess those sins to the Elders so the Elders can determine whether the individual is repentant enough and whether the individual can remain in association with the congregation. This is more like a judgment than simply aiding an individual to go to the Father in prayer. And while many may object to this administrative rule, those who become Jehovah’s Witnesses understand this rule and subject themselves to it when they undergo baptism by the Watchtower organization.
Therefore, if it is your intent to remain in association with the Watchtower organization, you may have to submit to their rules. But that would only serve to ‘set things straight’ between you and the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It has no real bearing on your relationship with the Father. You do not need the Elders’ approval in order to gain forgiveness from God. They have no power in this regard. And remember, the Elders are also sinners who have a need to confess their own sins to the Father and seek forgiveness. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
On the other hand, if it is not your intent to remain in association with the Watchtower organization, you have no obligations to the Elders. You can openly confess your sins to the Father and Christ Jesus through heartfelt and sincere prayer and make a determination to do your very best under all circumstances in the future. In this way, you gain forgiveness of your sins and a clean conscience:
“If we make the statement, ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
If you cannot see your way to approaching the Father and Christ Jesus in prayer, you can ask for assistance from a trusted friend who can pray with you and by means of that person’s prayer, you can gain relief and the strength to approach the Father on your own.
“Therefore, openly confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. A righteous man’s supplication has a powerful effect.” – James 5:16
We hope this response helps. After you consider your circumstances and your intentions, we encourage you to do whatever you need to do to clear your conscience so you will have no impediment or stumbling block to participating in the Memorial Supper. Partaking of the Christ is mandatory if you are to gain salvation and it is only through confessing union with Christ that you will ever have the opportunity to truly be sin-free.
♦ Since the scriptures indicate that we can celebrate the Memorial Supper whenever we get together, is there a need for an annual celebration?
On February 24, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“While I have expressed thoughts about your divergence from the Bible on some points, I also, as you may know, find agreement in many of your points that diverge from [Jehovah’s Witness] Theology. In your 1/9/2013 and 1/13/2013 responses to a writer about the timing of the Lord's Supper, you accurately stated that the Bible does not specify exactly how often this should be observed. From a careful analysis of 1 Corinthians 11, it may be argued that it was in fact celebrated fairly often. As you know, the Bible allows Christians much freedom or latitude in many areas, and this seems to be one. (Galatians 5:1,13) Why don't you share a little more with the international brotherhood that there is no need for such a big buildup for an annual observance of the Lord's Supper? Obviously, the Scriptures give no evidence of any of the hoopla such as the [Jehovah’s Witness] splashy display on the world scene, leading up to their annual Spring Memorial.”
To the author, thank you for your email, we are always glad to hear from you. You raise an issue that has been on our minds within the last couple of days, so we truly believe your email was spirit directed.
As you rightly state, we can conduct a Memorial Supper at any time we desire – even every day if we are so inclined. (1 Corinthians 11:26) It makes no sense for someone who recognizes their sonship to wait until the annual celebration to confess union with Christ. Who knows what can happen between that time. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
For our part, we have encouraged such frequent commemorations ‘as often as’ our brothers get together. However, that does not mean that we cannot also choose to celebrate the Supper annually. We think there is significant spiritual advantage for our planet to set aside one particular day to honor the Christ in a united voice in a united way.
“Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, so that unitedly you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-6
For that reason, in addition to the private Memorial Suppers we may have with just our immediate family and friends throughout the year, we encourage an annual Supper with extended family and friends whom we may not have seen in a while which can serve as a special time of association and encouragement. It can be a time to renew our joy for the hope we hold in common, and to welcome those who just recently began the race for the real life.
Nevertheless, we do understand your observations about the Watchtower Society’s hoopla in connection with an annual celebration of the Supper. As we mentioned in the article, A Memorial of Offense, their Memorial events have become unique opportunities to dishonor the Christ. Their staunch stance that the Memorial can only be celebrated annually effective limits the honor that could be shown to Jesus throughout the year and suppresses our brothers’ burning desire to have a sharing with Christ whenever they so choose.
It seems that the Memorials of the Watchtower Society are more like an annual census taking. They want to see how many people they can get to come to their meetings. They are not interested in how many people choose to have a sharing with Christ Jesus, or how many people choose to become a part of the body of Christ, or how many people choose to confess union with the Christ. If they did, they would not oppose and intimidate those who choose to do so, and they certainly would not hide their numbers from the public.
So, while we agree that the Memorials of the Watchtower Society are a splashy display of ‘much ado about nothing,’ we do believe that annual celebrations are beneficial, upbuilding and encouraging, not only for us on earth, but also for our celestial family looking on. Imagine the spiritual energy that ascends when, on one day, so many people are offering prayers of thanksgiving and appreciation in honor of the one who has been given ‘all authority in heaven and on earth.’ (Matthew 28:18) Imagine the joy of the ‘angels of the congregations’ (Revelation 1:20) who are seeing progress in the ministry of Christ Jesus in the groups they oversee. Imagine the Father’s joy at so many united souls collectively honoring his appointed sovereign. (Hebrews 1:2) And imagine the satisfaction of Christ Jesus as he watches his creation, knowing that his life, his death and his ministry was not in vain! (John 6:51)
For these reasons and more, we wholeheartedly believe that it is never considered inappropriate by the Father to have this type of unity of believers confessing the Christ and renewing hope and consecration of will on a designated night. The words of the Apostle Paul to ‘keep our minds fixed on the things above’ (Colossians 3:2) are given supernal life on such a night. This is a golden opportunity for the true congregation of Christ who believe in God’s everlasting kindness and mercy to truly show appreciation as a collective all around the world of how much we value the life and death of our Lord and Savior. This type of expression and this type of love should be shown throughout the year, but when offered up as one united throng, it has incredible spiritual force.
Such outpouring of honor culminating in an annual commemoration is one of the most important things we hope to accomplish through this ministry. The annual Suppers can be widely advertised, but they should be modest, yet joyous occasions, attended by those who are willing to drink the cup of Christ and be baptized into his death. (Romans 6:3-5) It is our celebration of the life and death of Christ Jesus and our exodus from a world of confusion into ‘the kingdom of the son of his love.’ (Colossians 1:13) So while we should certainly commune with the Christ throughout the year, there is only honor and glory to be had for the Christ if we also honor him with one united voice on (or near) the anniversary of the first Memorial Supper.
♦ Are there any brothers in the Philippines who are having a private Memorial Supper?
On March 5, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Dear brothers in Christ, Can you publish an announcement asking if there are brothers based [at or near Quezon City] Philippines who are eagerly awaiting for the Memorial to partake of the emblem/bread and wine? I would like to partake but not inside the local Kingdom Hall in order to avoid murmuring, speculation and other unnecessary reactions from the brothers. Probably we can do it together before the scheduled memorial time? What are your suggestions? Thanks in advance. May Jehovah our God continue to enlighten us and more of our innocent brothers through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We will post your request here in hopes that others in the Philippines may see it and send us an email. If we hear from anyone, we will let you know privately. Also, please see Question and Response 2/11/14 for more suggestions.
♦ What songs will they be singing at the private Memorial Suppers?
On March 6, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“Hello Dear ones. I follow through your articles for quite some time. I was raised up as a [Jehovah’s Witness] but struggling for more than a year with these 8 men-dominated Religion and their private teaching. My question: Regarding the upcoming Mémorial, you lately explained/compared the procedure [in A Tale of Two Suppers]. Which Songs will the sons of God sing that night? Best regards.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We do not know what songs will be sung. Each group will make that decision for themselves. We suspect Jehovah’s Witnesses might think they are limited to the songs in the Watchtower publication, “Sing To Jehovah.” However, that is not so. There is a whole world of uplifting and inspiring music to choose from that originate outside of the Watchtower society. Though the Governing Body has been very effective in convincing our brothers that the only appropriate spiritual songs are the ones published by them, that is so far from the truth.
Suitable songs can be found among many “gospel” and contemporary Christian artists. When we ventured to listen to ‘outside spiritual music,’ we were pleasantly surprised. Many of the lyrics are so in line with the plain and open teachings of Jesus, and many of them moved us to tears, and continue to do so. We also know that there are talented songwriters in our midst who may choose to write appropriate songs for the occasion. There are just so many options.
But do not unnecessarily restrict yourself in this regard. If you find songs with lyrics you don’t like, don’t use them. Use your perceptive powers. Train them to distinguish between the ‘good fish’ and the bad ones and throw the bad ones back. It’s that simple. This is what Christian freedom is all about!
At the same time, we know that some may not choose to include the singing or playing of songs at their private Memorial Suppers. That’s fine too. You are in control of how you choose to honor the Christ on this occasion. The important thing is that you partake and have a full sharing with Christ. We hope you contact us after the Memorial to let us know how your Supper went.
♦ A brother’s method of publicizing the private Memorial Suppers.
On March 7, 2014, we received the following encouraging email:
“Dear Brothers in Christ, I have made up a flyer that I have shared with a number of pastors in the local churches. I also put it out in Christian coffee shops and places around town. I have found that with the pastors, it has created good conversation and one said he did not know April 14th date was anything special. I asked if they would put it on their Church bulletin boards. Also I have a print ready copy that I have submitted to monthly Christian journals as a article to see if they will print it in April. Also I am working at making contact with the local Christian Radio Stations on this subject. You may like to join me in this joy.”
To the author, what bold efforts you are putting forth in publishing to the Christian community the anniversary of the most important celebration in Christianity. We are publishing your email along with the flyer you sent in hopes that it may encourage others to have a greater share in publicizing this most important event.
Flyer for April 14, 2014 Private Memorial Suppers
This is your ministry, brother, and you are doing well. We do not need to interject ourselves. But we wholeheartedly support you. Please keep us informed with how it goes.
♦ What do I do if the elders try to disfellowship me for partaking?
On April 6, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“I have recently encountered such disapproval from my congregation elders. What should I do if they try to disfellowship me for partaking this year?”
To the author, it is so good to hear from you again. We were just talking about you last week wondering if you were okay. We are sorry to hear of the attitudes of your elders. It is truly shameful that professed men of God would try to interfere with your relationship with the Father and Christ Jesus. It is simply none of their business! Even past Watchtower articles made this clear, such as this excerpt from the June 15, 2009 Watchtower, page 22-23, paragraph 15:
“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)
If these elders will not respect the Bible’s clear direction that we must eat and drink of the Christ if we are to receive life (John 6:53), then they should at least respect the words of their chosen leaders as contained in the pages of The Watchtower magazine.
Dear sister, partaking of the Memorial emblems is not a disfellowshipping offense. If they try to disfellowship you, it would likely be for some other reason like being disrespectful to the elders or trying to cause divisions. To avoid those charges, you will need let the elders know in a mild and kind way that your relationship with Jehovah is personal and that you mean no disrespect to anyone, but if you did not partake, you feel you would be disrespecting Jehovah and Christ Jesus. You could also show them the above Watchtower article. If you do not yet feel qualified or comfortable enough to make a defense for your hope before these men, then you can let them know that your hope is personal, and you no longer want to talk about it. That should end the matter.
But if your efforts to be respectful still result in a judicial hearing or your disfellowshipping, then we would suggest that you appeal the decision. See our article, Publicly Declaring Our Hope for more information on how and why you should appeal. And after you read that article, if you still have questions, please do not hesitate to write us again.
Stories like these reinforce our opinion that the Watchtower leadership is a mirror image of the 1st century Jewish Sanhedrin who viewed the claim of being sons of God as blasphemy and who held in contempt any who dared to follow Jesus. Today, only Jehovah’s Witnesses hold in contempt and try to disfellowship those who claim to be sons of God. No other Christian sect that we know of would dare chastise nor expel a member who believed he was a child of God and was desirous of partaking of the symbolic bread and wine.
And what timing! This is Memorial Season! This is a time of rejoicing and excitement to be able to openly confess union with Christ along with a host of likeminded men and women. This is a time for renewing our spirits and igniting our souls to consecrated worship and service. Our remembering the beautiful life of this wonderfully exquisite Son of Man/Son of God and the things that he did to open up the sanctuary of heaven for those who were without hope and alienated from the Father should be the dominate focus and the overriding concern. Let no man take away the love and joy you have for our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, especially at this time. We feel a certain pity for those who are not enveloped with these joyful sentiments.
The Watchtower leadership, including the Governing Body and their ‘under shepherds,’ should be ashamed of their utter ignorance of the teachings of Jesus. They are out of touch with the organization and completely out of harmony with the teachings of Jesus and for their own sake and for the sake of the organization, they should voluntarily relinquish their positions of oversight if they have any hope of being restored to God’s favor. The future is not bright for them:
“Then he said to his disciples: ‘It is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come. Nevertheless, woe to the one through whom they come! It would be more advantageous for him if a millstone were hung from his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to stumble one of these little ones.’” – Luke 17:1-2
But as for you, dear sister, be courageous. Choose the Christ rather than the Governing Body. And take your place in the kingdom of the heavens by partaking freely of the Christ at this year’s annual Memorial Supper.
♦ Did Judas partake of the Memorial Emblems?
On February 18, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“I just have a quick question regarding a picture shown on the Memorial of Offense Poster. Why is it that there are shown 11 apostles with the Lord? The gospel of Luke says that Judas was there too after the Lord Jesus made the covenant. Luke 22:21 “But look! the hand of my betrayer is with me at the table." The Watchtower says that Luke (even though he was inspired by holy spirit) got it wrong.”
To the author, thank you for your email. The quick and direct answer to your question is that, as we all can agree, Judas left the supper at some point. The picture in the poster is an illustration of a time after Judas left. But your question seems to be – Was Judas present at the institution of the Lord’s Evening Meal and was he a partaker in the new covenant? We will respond to that question as well. Let’s look at the individual accounts.
Matthew records that ‘as they were eating’ the Passover meal, Judas was identified as the betrayer (Matthew 26:21-25); then Jesus instituted the supper (Matthew 26:26-29). Matthew does not record when Judas left.
Mark records the same sequence as Matthew that “as they were reclining and eating’ the Passover meal, Jesus identified the betrayer (Mark 14:18-21); then Jesus instituted the supper (Mark 14:22-25) Again, no mention of when Judas left.
Luke records that Jesus reclined at the table and ate the Passover meal (Luke 22:14-18); then he instituted the supper (Luke 22:19-20); then Jesus said one of them was a betrayer (Luke 22:21-23), then the apostles began arguing about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27); and then Jesus again acknowledges the new covenant (Luke 22:28-30). And here, no mention of when Judas left.
John records a different sequence: While the Passover meal was going on, Jesus got up to wash the feet of the apostles apparently in response to their arguing about who was greater (John 13:2-20); then Jesus identified Judas as the betrayer and Judas leaves the supper (John 13:21-30); then Jesus begins teaching many superb concepts about love. Interestingly, John is the only account that does not include the actual instituting of the Memorial Supper.
Here is what we have concluded from these accounts:
1. All 12 apostles ate the Passover meal with Jesus. So, it is not odd that an account would mention Jesus giving a piece of dipped bread to Judas. That eating was part of the Passover meal, not the new supper.
2. Since it is the custom that the guests’ feet are washed prior to the Passover celebration, and since washing of the hands is a feature of the Passover celebration, we believe the arguing among the apostles occurred prior to the Passover meal and prior to the institution of the Memorial Supper.
3. Since Luke reports the arguing after the Passover meal, we believe his sequencing is not correct. To us, John’s sequence sounds the most accurate.
4. This also means that we believe Mark and Matthew had the correct sequencing since they are consistent with John’s sequencing, which also means that,
5. Finally, we believe Luke’s account is accurate. He records the events that occurred that night, he just recorded them without regard to the order of events. So, the fact that the sequencing is wrong does not make the account inaccurate.
Nevertheless, whether Judas was present or not is a theological question. His presence or lack of presence does not affect our own decision on whether or not we should be present. Our brothers and sisters must learn to distinguish the difference between matters of knowledge and matters of faith. (1 Timothy 1:4) If our conclusion is wrong and Judas was, in fact, present, that only means that Jesus was merciful and hopeful that even at that late date, Judas might turn from his treacherous course.
We know that many Jehovah’s Witnesses use Judas’ non-presence to support an argument that not all present at the Memorial Supper should partake. We agree with them, but probably for different reasons.
We believe that anyone who would dare to oppose Jesus, resist Jesus, or betray Jesus SHOULD NOT partake. That includes anyone who rejects the heavenly hope and rejects the ‘places Jesus prepared for us.’ (John 14:2-3) That includes anyone who is not a brother to Christ Jesus, anyone who is not baptized into Christ, anyone who is not in the Christian congregation, which IS the body of Christ, and anyone who does not confess union with Christ Jesus. In fact, anyone who chooses not to follow Christ wherever he goes, but instead chooses to follow men does not deserve to partake of the Memorial emblems, does not deserve even to be present at the Memorial Supper, and certainly does not deserve everlasting life in heaven or on earth, as Jesus plainly stated:
“So Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” – John 6:53
But for those who do confess union with Christ, they MUST partake, regardless of what Judas did. It is the only religious observance Jesus ever commanded and directly connected with gaining life.
“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.” – John 6:54-56
So, the bottom line is this: Beyond the academic exercise and the obvious importance it has to Judas personally, whether he partook of the Memorial Supper or not has no bearing on OUR salvation.
Of course, you are free to agree or disagree with our conclusion, but we hope it does not deter you from personally confessing union with Christ at this year’s Memorial Supper.
♦ Visitor believes Judas did partake of the first Memorial Supper.
On February 22, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“Hello. I read your response about Judas and the Passover ('Did Judas partake of the Memorial Emblems?'). While I do agree with you in lot of things, I disagree with you in this matter and here's why. You said: 'Since Luke reports the arguing after the Passover meal, we believe his sequencing is not correct. To us, John's sequence sounds the most accurate.' I think we should stop saying Luke got it wrong... Luke got it wrong. Because Luke, by Divine inspiration, started his book the following way:
LUKE 1:1-4 - 1 Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that you might know the certainty concerning the things in which you were instructed.
“Luke traced ALL things accurately. I believe in Luke and his accuracy!”
To the author, thank you for your email. We post your response to share with others an alternative opinion on whether Judas was present at the Memorial Supper. We continue to believe he was not present for the reasons set forth in our initial response. But, as we wrote, this is a theological issue and an academic exercise.
Theological issues are those that ‘merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith.’ (1 Timothy 1:4) Here, determining whether or not Judas was present may enhance one’s knowledge, but it does not build or destroy faith in the Father or in Christ Jesus. It certainly had an effect on Judas personally, but it has no bearing on our salvation. Really, brother, those who believe that Judas partook of the first Memorial Supper remain united in faith with those who believe Judas was dismissed prior to the Memorial Supper because our faith does not rest on Judas’ actions. And so, we are content to agree to disagree on this theological issue.
And do not worry about whether you agree with everything we publish. We are not the masters over anyone’s faith. We do not hold ourselves out as the authority in matters pertaining to the Bible or to faith, nor do we require that others follow our view. We are fellow workers, along with you, endeavoring to do the Father’s will to the best of our ability. If you are able to obtain some spiritual gift from our website, then we are content with that. Take those matters that benefit you and leave the rest on the table, so to speak. And, of course, we continue to view you as our brother, and we sincerely appreciate your longtime support.
♦ Is the article Who Should Partake of the Memorial Emblems, why do we say “you must” partake?
On March 3, 2015, we received the following inquiry regarding the article Who Should Partake of the Memorial Emblems?
“Though I appreciate your reasoning about the participation at the memorial and basically I agree with your arguments, but it is very demanding by the repeated use of the wording 'you must' and that leads me to the question: 'Is it the take-in of the emblems which saves us - or is it our faith in Jesus?' Don't get me wrong - I agree that it belongs to our faith in Jesus or is a part of it. My simple question is: Is it possible that someone will not be in God's kingdom because his only fault is, not taking from the emblems? The emblems are symbols, aren't they? They should not be more important than that what they symbolize, isn't it? [At the same time, I understand that] it obviously is written to have an awakening effect or impact on those who simply base their decision for not-partaking on the erroneous earthly hope they have been taught and it can show very well the inconsistencies that exist between their teachings and actions. Your brother.”
To the author, thank you for your email and for giving us an opportunity to clarify why we used such imperative language.
We included the phrase “you must” in the context of what one should do who is present at a Memorial Supper. The article Who Should Partake of the Memorial Emblems is directed primarily to Jehovah’s Witnesses who annually reject the emblems and refuse to partake, whether it is due to intentional deafness, self-imposed blindness, or fear of men.
Some of them may see the need to participate in the Supper but think they can avoid taking a public stand with Christ Jesus by telling themselves that actual partaking is not a salvation issue. But refusing to partake of the emblems when they are presented to you is an act of disowning Christ and a direct contravention of Jesus’ emphatic command to “take, eat.” (Matthew 26:26) We wrote about the depth of such disrespect in the article A Memorial Of Offense. So under those circumstances, yes, it would be a salvation issue as reflected in Jesus words:
“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
Also, keep in mind that Jesus used other imperatives to his followers such as:
“Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” – John 3:3
“And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:38
As you stated, it is exercising faith in Jesus that saves us. (John 3:16; John 5:24; John 6:40, 47; John 17:13) But being born again and accepting one’s torture stake and following Christ are all a part of the way we exercise such faith, as is partaking of the Memorial emblems. These are not suggestions or matters of conscience. They are directives. So when faced with an opportunity to demonstrate our faith, failure to do so would be problematic. We want to be careful that we do not use semantics to create loopholes to excuse us from in following Christ in the way he commanded. As James wrote:
“Therefore, if someone knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” – John 4:17
So, for those who are present at a Memorial Supper, failure to partake and confess union with Christ Jesus, which is such an easy thing to do, would be counted as a sin. And so, in our article, we used the imperative “you must.”
♦ Visitor comments on the glaring omission in the Watchtower’s 2015 Memorial Invitation.
On March 20, 2015, we received the following comment:
“Dear Friends, Recently a young brother brought to my attention the tract being distributed by the Watchtower Society for the upcoming memorial celebration. I downloaded a copy and was appalled and quite saddened by the affront to Christ Jesus. The Governing Body has allowed and participated in establishing a new low in their regard for Christ Jesus.
“Notice in the illustration of Jesus instituting the Remembrance Supper that there is no bread on the plate, not even any leftover crumbs as if they had just finished partaking. The cup is shown in such a way that one cannot see the wine that represented his blood. How can you omit showing these emblems which are fundamental to the celebration? In fact there is no celebration without them!
“Also in the commentary the tract quotes Luke 22:19,20 which says: "Keep doing this in remembrance of me." So while the tract says Jesus "introduced a simple ceremony" it seems they go out of the way to hide that in this simple ceremony there was partaking of the bread and drinking of the wine going on, which is precisely the way we show we remember him. I use the term "hide" because there is no mention or picture of the memorial emblems anywhere in the tract.
“I cannot help but to wonder if this is coincidental to the oppressive stand the Governing body and congregation elders have taken against memorial partakers in recent years? Are they trying to send a message to the public and to Jehovah's Witnesses that the bread and wine symbolizing our Lord's body are of minor or no importance at this event? Is it another ploy to discourage people from becoming part of Christ body opening up entrance to the Kingdom of heaven?
“It is also strange that the tract says that last year in obedience to Jesus command almost 20 million people worldwide attended this event. However as the memorial statistics show 99.9% of those in attendance were not in obedience to Jesus as they did not "Keep doing this in remembrance of me" which was to partake of the bread and drink from the cup of wine which he commanded. Those attending also chose not to "keep proclaiming the death of the Lord till he comes" as the Apostle Paul indicated at 1 Cor. 11:26 "For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes."
About the only thing that was thought provokingly honest in the tract was the opening two words "Attend what?" What do you make of this trend? Kind regards.”
To the author, thank you for your email and for bringing that to our attention. We agree with your assessment of matters. It is quite shocking that the emblems of bread and wine are absent from the invitation. What is more shocking is that they could have simply omitted the plate and the cup and counted it as an oversight. But they chose to include the empty plate and apparently empty cup to make a statement that the bread and wine are not a part of their commemoration.
This is another way the Governing Body and the Watchtower organization go the extra mile to let Jesus know that they did not forget his Memorial Supper, but that they will not allow others to be a part of it. We commented on this in A Memorial of Offense. Even though they go through the motions of partaking themselves, we marvel at how the Governing Body, who profess to be sons of God, can be so thoroughly Pharisaic in their actions toward Christ. It is as Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the Kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in.” –Matthew 23:13
The trend we have noticed is that the Governing Body is doing all they can to remove Jesus from their organization or relegate him to an insignificant nominal place in the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They go so far as to instruct the overseers to ‘mark’ and remove from their organization as many of those who profess sonship with God as possible. How sad that an organization, with so much potential for building up the sons of God, has become the foremost religion for those who reject Christ, who reject sonship, who reject the heavenly hope, who reject the leading of the spirit of truth, who reject the torture stake of Christ, and who despise the idea of communing with Christ or becoming a part of his body, which IS the Christian congregation. (Colossians 1:24)
How many more generations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will have to suffer under blind guides, hired men and counterfeit elders? How many more generations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will turn their back on the heavenly hope – the only hope Jesus and his apostles ever taught? And how many more generations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will miss out on everlasting life because they chose to stand with men rather than with Christ?
All those who have the courage to confess union with Christ Jesus by ‘eating and drinking of him’ (John 6:53-56; Luke 22:19-20) in spite of the opposing commands of men, should take heed to the message given by the Governing Body in their 2015 Memorial invitation. The empty plate and the empty cup clearly show that the Watchtower organization has nothing to offer the children of God. And we wholeheartedly share their sentiment, “Attend What?”
♦ If I have chosen to follow Jesus, can I partake even though I have an earthly hope?
On January 8, 2018, we received the following email:
After reading your article on who should not partake of the emblems, I have chosen Jesus Christ as my saviour and wish to follow him. But I feel that I still have the earthly hope here on earth once Jehovah creates a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness is to dwell. Am I still able to partake of these emblems?
To the author, thank you for your email. We suspect there are many Jehovah’s Witnesses who can no longer deny that every follower of Jesus should partake of the Memorial emblems. Yet they still hold onto the idea that they have the so-called “earthly hope.” We understand why this presents a dilemma for them, but this dilemma is easily resolved if we allow the scriptures to be our guide. We have written several articles that highlight the relevant scriptures, some of the articles are listed below. In the meantime, we would like to pose a few questions and make a few observations to stimulate your thinking.
Your email states: “I have chosen Jesus Christ as my saviour and wish to follow him.” That is commendable. That is what Jesus asks of all of us. But we wonder: How far will you go? How far will you follow him? Will you, like most Jehovah’s Witnesses, follow him only up to the door but will not enter? Are you willing to follow him through the door and into the heavens where he is currently residing? If it is your desire to follow Jesus wherever he goes (Matthew 8:19-22), then you do not have an earthly hope. You have the heavenly one! Recall Jesus said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God; exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father are many dwelling places. Otherwise, I would have told you, for I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you home to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” – John 14:1-3
Jesus expects his followers to be in the places he prepared for them in heaven. If that were not true or if there was another destiny, he would have told us. He never did.
From your email, it is clear that you understand there is a heavenly hope. But who taught you that there is an earthly hope? How did that teaching originate? Surely, you have read:
“One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6
According to Paul, there is only one hope – the heavenly hope – the only hope discussed and encouraged in the Christian scriptures. Any other hope is just “another sort of good news’ that is discouraged in the Bible. Recall this scripture:
“I marvel that you are being so quickly removed from the One who called you with Christ’s undeserved kindness over to another sort of good news. But it is not another; only there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ. However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:6-8
Paul went so far as to say that those who are not pursuing the “upward call” need a mental adjustment:
“Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead. I am pursuing down toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.” – Philippians 3:13-15
So, yes brother, if you are following the leading of the spirit and allowing the scriptures to guide you, then not only should you partake as a follower, but you should partake as a son of God with the heavenly hope:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. 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 that we may also be glorified together.” – Romans 8:14-17
The idea that there is an earthly hope is a fabrication created by well-meaning, but misled men. They view their own speculations about what certain prophecies mean as superior to the plain teaching of Jesus and the apostles. They have created “another sort of good news” which is why the Watchtower organization has to constantly change and update their teachings.
But the good news as taught by Jesus is unchanging. His teachings ARE the brightest light and the solid foundation upon which his followers should build their faith. Those who build their faith on the plain and open teachings of Jesus will be unshakeable. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
We understand how difficult this plain teaching is for many to accept. We, too, held the same belief in our spiritual infancy that we had an earthly hope. But when we began to trust the spirit of truth to guide us (John 16:13) and learned to trust the plain reading of the scriptures, our “powers of discernment were trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) If you do the same, and accept the scriptures for what they actually say, you, too, will find your way to the true hope, the only hope – the heavenly one. And then you can partake with a clean conscience knowing that you are doing what you ought to have done.
To further the discussion, here are some articles that you might want to consider:
Holding Fast to the Sacred Secret
Also, see the series of commentary articles on the two Watchtower study articles, The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit and We Want to God With You?
After reading these articles, if you continue to have questions on your sonship and your eternal hope, please do not hesitate to write us again.
♦ Could it be that Jesus deceived us, that he made a mistake, that he lied to us, when he said that he would be in he burial tomb for 3 days and 3 nights?
On March 8, 2019, we received the following email:
Matthew 12: 39-40: 38 Then some of the lawyers and the Pharisees spoke and said, "Master, we would like to see a miraculous sign from you." 39 He answered them, "A bad generation and adultery calls for a miraculous sign, it will not be given any other sign than that of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and
three nights in the belly of a great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the earth.” Some ask: "Is it possible that He meant only a portion of three days and three nights?”
Why this question: Christianity observes the death of Christ and His subsequent resurrection on "Friday" and "Easter Sunday." For anyone who takes the Bible seriously, it is extremely difficult (and even impossible) to insert three days and three nights - or even a portion of that interval - between sunset on Friday and the time before dawn. next Sunday. Count together: Friday night marks the first night; Saturday is the first day; Saturday night marks the beginning of the second night. And that's all! This is, in all, two nights and one day!
Is it possible to count partially three days and partially three nights between Friday in the late afternoon and Sunday before dawn? To do this, it should be said that the short period in the late afternoon, Friday, is partially a day; with Friday night, we have a whole night; Saturday, we have a whole day; Saturday night begins a supposedly full night; and Sunday morning would count as a partial day (although, according to the Apostle John, when the women went to the tomb, which they found empty, "it was still dark"). Such a count would still give us diurnal portions on Friday and Saturday, but hardly on Sunday) and only two night time periods (Friday and Saturday).
It becomes clear that it is impossible to talk about three days and three nights when describing the time between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, and also impossible to talk about nights and partial days. Question: Could it be that Jesus deceived us, that he made a mistake, that he lied to us, that he was a false prophet ???? Or is it we who do not know how to count in the scriptures how to count 3 days and 3 nights ???? Thank you for your response.
To the author, thank you for your email, especially at this time of the year when so many are contemplating the death and resurrection of Jesus. Hopefully we can clear this up for you so that you do not have to question the integrity of our Sovereign Christ Jesus.
First, you’ve made a few erroneous assumptions:
1. Jesus did not write the book of Matthew.
Assuming the scripture you refer to in the book of Matthew is not correct, the error should not be attributed to Jesus. This is a record “according to” Matthew. It is that writer’s account of what occurred. It is helpful to keep this in mind when you are studying the Bible. Remember that you are reading from the writer’s perspective. While each writer was “inspired by God,” it is the writer’s understanding of whatever is recorded. Accordingly, whether what Matthew wrote is true or not, it should not make us challenge the integrity of Jesus.
2. You are basing your reasoning on the wrong calendar.
When considering what is a day and night, we should look to how the Jewish calendar calculated it. On the calendar we use today, the Gregorian calendar, a day begins at midnight and ends the following midnight. On the Jewish calendar, a day begins at sundown and ends at the following sundown. We need to keep that in mind when calculating Biblical days and nights.
3. Jesus was not buried on Friday.
Christians, in general, believe Jesus died on Passover which would have been a Friday. However, the scriptures tell us he died and was buried on Thursday, the day of Preparation – the day before Passover. Notice these scriptures:
Now as it was already late in the afternoon, and since it was Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, there came Joseph of Arimathea, a reputable member of the Council, who also himself was waiting for the Kingdom of God. He took courage and went in before Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. – Mark 15:42-43
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was about to begin. But the women who had come with him from Galilee followed along and took a look at the tomb and saw how his body was laid, and they went back to prepare spices and perfumed oils. But, of course, they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. – Luke 23:54-56
Since it was the day of Preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the torture stakes on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath day was a great one), the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. So, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and those of the other man who was on a stake alongside him. But on coming to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs. – John 19:31-33
Since we know the Passover was a day of resting from all work and was a commandment. it is highly unlikely that so much of the strict-observing Jewish nation would be involved in a trial and execution during the actual Passover day or night. They would be in solemn commemoration in their homes. Additionally, the reason for breaking the legs of the ‘evildoers’ who were hung alongside Jesus was to hasten their death so that they could be removed before Passover begins.
4. We must count Thursday as the first day.
Another feature of the ancient Jewish calendar is the principle of the “relative hour.” The calendar divides a calendar day into two periods: 12 hours for the day and 12 hours for the night, and they always viewed 12 noon as the 6th hour of the day. An hour is occasionally considered “relative” because the first hour of the day began at the break of dawn which varied from season to season. Accordingly, at times, an hour would be less than the standard 60 minutes in order to make 12:00 noon the 6th hour of the day. So, let’s apply that factor to our reasoning:
In the book of Mark, we read:
When it became the sixth hour, a darkness fell over all the land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice: "E'li, E'li, la'ma sabachtha'ni?" which means, when translated: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And some of those standing near, on hearing it, began to say: "See! He is calling Eli'jah." Then someone ran, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying: "Let him be! Let us see whether Eli'jah comes to take him down." But Jesus let out a loud cry and expired. – Mark 15:33-37
So now, after having corrected your erroneous assumptions, here is what we discover: Jesus died and was buried on Thursday, the day of Preparation, in the afternoon before sundown – that is, before Passover on Thursday. He died at the “ninth hour” of the day, making that the first day. Then, from sundown Thursday to sundown Friday, we have an additional day and a night which brings the calculation to 2 days and 1 night. Then from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, we have an additional day and night, bringing our calculation to 3 days and 2 nights. Finally, from sundown Saturday to Sunday “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), that is, before the dawn, we have 1 night, bringing our total to 3 days and 3 nights.
With this information, dear brother, you can see that there is no need to doubt the integrity of Jesus. It appears that Matthew accurately recorded what Jesus said, and the circumstantial evidence supports his account.
We hope this information adequately answers your question, but if you continue to have questions on this account, please do not hesitate to write us again.
♦ Did Jesus Lose Faith on the Torture Stake?
On March 10, 2019, we received the following question:
I have been reading about Jesus death and resurrection for the upcoming Memorial and I came across a scripture that has always baffled me. In Mark 15:33, Jesus asked why God forsook him? I know that God didn’t forsake Jesus, but why would Jesus ask that question? It’s hard to believe that Jesus lacked faith, but I must confess that is how it looks. What do you think about it?
To the author, thank you for your email. This is a common misunderstanding that we believe we can clear up quickly. Here is the scripture you are referring to:
When it became the sixth hour, a darkness fell over all the land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice: "Eli, Eli, la'ma sabachtha'ni?" which means, when translated: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" – Mark 15:33-34
So, your question is well-founded. However, to put this in context, consider how Jesus responded when under severe stress. You are probably aware that Jesus was quite adept at understanding the Hebrew scriptures. In fact, according to Luke 4:1-12, when Jesus was under severe stress and tempted by Satan, he repeatedly responded by quoting the Hebrew scriptures. Recall that while he is indeed the Son of God, he was also a Son of Man – a Jew raised in the manner of respectable Jews of his day. And so, it is not out of character for a Jew to quote scriptures to fortify their faith.
Based on this history, and on the fact that Jesus exhibited unwavering faith in the Father his entire life, it is likely that he was doing the same thing when he was undergoing that painful and ignominious death. It appears he may have been quoting from the book of Psalms – specifically, this verse:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you far from saving me,
Far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I keep calling by day, and you do not answer;
And by night there is no silence on my part.
– Psalms 22:1-2
While some may question why Jesus would quote such a scripture at that time, and in fact assert that these verses support the idea that Jesus was losing faith, notice these additional verses in that chapter:
But you are holy,
Surrounded by the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
They trusted, and you kept rescuing them.
To you they cried out, and they were saved;
They trusted in you, and they were not disappointed.
– Psalms 22:3-5
So, you can see that these verses would be comforting to the man Jesus at this terrible time and would also occupy his mind so that he would not have to focus on the painful circumstances. Since he was on that torture stake for several hours, it is likely that he quoted several verses. He may have actually quoted the entire chapter, but because this portion was said “in a loud voice,” it was heard and recorded in the book of Mark.
Also, the book of Luke makes the following record:
And Jesus called out with a loud voice and said: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” After he said this, he expired. – Luke 23:46
These last words, also said in a “loud voice,” were quoted from the book of Psalms:
Into your hand I entrust my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Jehovah, the God of truth. – Psalms 31:5
Clearly, Jesus’ reliance on scripture kept him going throughout his life and did not fail him at his death. You may also find that quoting scriptures when you are under stress is comforting and reassuring, and a way to keep your mind occupied and not focused on a terrible circumstance you may find yourself in. So rather than find these outcries of Jesus to be signs of a lack of faith, you can see that they are expressions of great faith that comforted his soul to endure his trials, even to death.
♦ Was Jesus us in the earth for 3 days and nights? - follow up question.
On March 16, 2019, we received the following email (translated into English) from the writer of the March 8, 2019 Question:
I'm not sure that the answer is the right one. Indeed, if a day and a night in the Scriptures are 24 hours, 3 days and 3 nights are therefore 72 Hours. Just read the Genesis (account) to see that it is well said:
5 And God called the light day, and the darkness was the night: and it was evening, and it was morning, and it was the first day.
So one day equals 24 hours. In addition, you forgot to count the feast of unleavened bread. Finally, you will be able to see that the hypotheses of the burial on Friday, on Thursday, do not hold in the mouth of Jesus, who made it clear that like Jonah, it is well 3 days and 3 nights or 72 hours that he remained in the grave. See the attached graphs. (The author attached 4 graphs detailing a 72-hour period.)
To the author, thank you for your email. It seems that you believe the Bible is a scientific writing and that every single word meets the absolute definition. This is a mistake. Remember that the Bible writers were ordinary men who were writing to ordinary people. Thus, it is more likely that the words used carried the common meaning of the day.
For example, the Jews used the concept of the "Relative Hour" which means that a day is not necessarily a 12-hour period, and the night is not necessarily a 12-hour period. We explained that in the response to your question that we posted to the site. We stand by that response.
Also, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a 7-day period that follows the Passover. So, we are not sure why counting the days after Jesus' death is relevant to this question.
However, please understand that this is an issue of theology, not salvation. Spiritual men and women may differ on matters of theology and remain brothers and sons of God and gain the heavenly inheritance. Notice Paul's counsel in connection with matters of theology:
Such things end up in nothing useful but merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith. Really, the objective of this instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy. By deviating from these things, some have been turned aside to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of law, but they do not understand either the things they are saying or the things they insist on so strongly. – 1 Timothy 1:3-7
Keep reminding them of these things, instructing them before God not to fight about words, something of no usefulness at all because it harms those listening. – 2 Timothy 2:14
Because of this, we usually do not engage in debates on theological matters. We responded to your question because you coupled it with a salvation issue, i.e., the integrity of Jesus. We wanted to show you the difference between Jesus, and the Bible writers who wrote about their personal experiences with Jesus. The writers may or may not have accurately recorded everything. While they were ‘inspired by God,’ they were human and subject to human frailties.
The idea that the Bible is the infallible word of God is unfortunate and has led to the loss of faith by many. This is especially common among former Jehovah's Witnesses who have been trained to believe that every single word in the Bible is infallible and has an absolute meaning and that the absolute words can be used to calculate the end times. When those individuals realize that some of the words are not absolute, they lose faith in God. Again, this is the unfortunate outcome of a people who have faith in a book rather than faith in God.
We hope you have not fallen victim to this mentality. Let's suppose you are right, and the Bible writers were wrong. What is next for you? Will you allow this theological debate to erode your faith? We hope not.