AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH JESUS
March 20, 2014
As we gather together on April 14, 2014 for the anniversary of the Memorial Supper – the one occasion Jesus asked that all remember (Luke 22:19) – this should be a time of personal reflection and forward contemplation of our aspirations for peace on earth and the ultimate adoption from faith sons on earth to spirit sons in heaven. (Romans 8:23) It is a time to fully enjoy the freedom of the sons of God now, and to prepare ourselves for expanded freedom in the eternal heavenly career. (2 Corinthians 3:17) When our hearts are truly united in purpose with Christ to do the Father’s will, it makes for a spirit charged, contemplative and intimate evening with our Lord, Christ Jesus.
No matter how we found our way to participating this year in a true Memorial Supper with Christ, this is a time to leave behind the baggage of yesterday. (Philippians 3:13-14) Let those among Jehovah’s Witnesses leave behind the ignorance and ungodly defiance of Jesus that is manifest in the Watchtower organization. Let those Christians who have always seen the need to partake of the ‘bread and wine’ embark on this evening with a renewed appreciation of what this night means to them, and to the whole world. And let those who had never understood the importance of the evening be born again into a new fellowship, a new brotherhood of the sons of God through the life and ministry of Christ Jesus.
When Jesus instituted the first Memorial Supper, he invited his close associates and closed the door behind them with no concern about the scribes, the Pharisees, or the disbelieving nation. They existed in their own intimate moment where brotherly love and humility reigned. Jesus knew that shortly after the Supper, his time would come. Yet even this impending gloom did not dampened his spirits that night. He rejoiced to be able to share this meal with those who became closer than brothers, those whom he loved with a fatherly love, those who would one day be with him in the heavenly kingdom.
In imitation of Jesus and his apostles, let this evening be our refuge from darkness and ignorance. Let us leave behind those who breathe threats against our open confession of union with Christ, and instead relish in being able to share with like believers who by their own free will accept the invitation to fully drink the cup and follow the Christ wherever he goes – even into the heavens. (John 14:3)
This is a participatory meal, a night of sharing with the Christ, a respectful supper in honor of our Lord. It is not an informational meeting, a public talk, a recruiting session, or a promotional meeting for upcoming events. It is not a night for ‘respectful abstinence’ or passive observance. It is not a night for our egos, our knowledge or our extensive research to be front and center. It is not a time to prove religious superiority, dabble in prophetic interpretations, or engage in any conduct that would distract from focusing on the honoree and remembering the glorious life and ministry of Christ Jesus. This night is a special night to exchange the things we share in common with fellow believers. It is a night where knowledge takes a back seat to faith.
The life and ministry of Jesus, as represented by the ‘bread’ and the ‘cup,’ is the means by which every generation can have and exercise hope in the unbreakable promise that the Kingdom of the Heavens is available for all who endure to the end of their mortal life. (Matthew 10:22) Nothing can replace the promise of being face to face with the Father in the distant future in the matchless beauty of the ‘True Paradise of God’ (Revelation 2:7) where His once ‘unapproachable light’ (1 Timothy 6:16) is now a thing of the past because we have successfully become perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and our light shines brightly in the actual presence of the Father of All creation, both great and small. These are the types of expressions that should dominate the evening.
Jesus had a message to give to our world and he let nothing distract him from that agenda. He was not concerned with political systems or social reform. Loving the Father with our whole being, loving one another as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31), proclaiming the good news of the kingdom that sets men free from enslavement to sin, to dogma, and doctrines of men (Matthew 28:19-20), that was the beginning and ending of Jesus’ agenda. He knew that if we could master these things, it would have a domino effect on the rest of society so that all things fall into place as the natural outcome of a God-oriented people. (Matthew 6:33)
Sometimes in our day-to-day lives, we lose sight of that agenda. Sometimes we allow the teachings of men, the thrill of the moment, the achievements, accolades or plaudits of men to disrupt that agenda. But this night is a golden opportunity to set matters straight in our minds and hearts. We can get our feet back on the beaten path of righteousness, pick up anew our torture stakes, and proclaim Jesus’ life and ministry to aid our fellows who have not yet seen the light or been privy to the light, to come into the light. (John 8:12)
Those who partake of the Christ will be the ones who will be instrumental in ushering in a renewed concept of worship and forward-thinking religion. They are learning to shake off the shackles of controlling and domineering religion and experience self-governance as the free children of God. They are the foundation stones to a new society that will look to the heavens as its future instead of the dust of the ground. This generation is the new beginning of an enlightened era. The sons of the kingdom are indeed, ‘the light of the world.’ (Matthew 5:14-16)
Enhancing the Meaning of the Emblems
The old Passover commemorated the emergence of the Jewish people from a state of slavery into individual physical freedom. The new Remembrance Supper instituted by Jesus commemorates the new dispensation wherein the individual emerges from the bondage of ceremonialism and tradition into spiritual freedom – the joy of the brotherhood and fellowship of the liberated faith sons of the living God. (Romans 8:20-21) The simple and unpretentious ceremony took place in the upper chamber of a friend (Luke 22:11-12) and was established without ecclesiastical sanction.
“As they continued eating, Jesus took a loaf, and after saying a blessing, he broke it, and giving it to the disciples, he said: “Take, eat. This means my body.” And taking a cup, he offered thanks and gave it to them, saying: “Drink out of it, all of you, for this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.”
– Matthew 26:26-28
As was his practice, Jesus employed parables and symbolisms to teach great spiritual truths and to prevent the crystallizing of his teachings. (Mark 4:33) Symbols and parables expand our understanding whereas precise definitions limit us. When instituting the Memorial Supper, Jesus also employed the use of symbols. Rather than destroy the individual’s concept of divine communion by limiting its meaning, he set man’s reborn soul free upon the joyous wings of a new and living spiritual liberty. This allows us a great deal of latitude in thinking and in contemplating what it means to us individually to ‘eat and drink’ of him.
As we prepare to partake of the Memorial emblems, let us reflect on his words and allow ourselves the freedom to recognize a higher and enhanced understanding commensurate with our growing spiritual capacity. We are not bound to the meanings given according to the chains of tradition and dogma. We are free to use our spiritual insight and to expound on the meaning of (1) the symbols and (2) the practice of eating and drinking of Christ, in order to develop a larger and greater understanding.
“And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but the anointing from him is teaching you about all things and is true and is no lie. Just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.”
– 1 John 2:27
So let us take some time to contemplate the symbolisms associated with the Memorial Supper. Ask yourself:
What does eating of Christ mean to me?
What does drinking of Christ mean to me?
What does Christ expect of me now that I have partaken of him?
What does the Father expect of me?
How does this event change my relationship with my brothers?
How does it change my relationship with the Father and Christ Jesus?
How does it change my relationship with the world?
And what can I do to be worthy of having a sharing with Christ?
If time permits, allow those in attendance free expression without condemnation. It is like looking at a beautiful work of art that grabs the individual’s attention and ignites something within his own spirit. Each observer may have his own interpretation and appreciation of the same work, but all will agree that it is beautiful! Likewise, we should not be surprised that the Memorial Supper can effect each of us in different ways. In this manner, we expand our own understanding and appreciation of Jesus, and we gain better insight into our brothers and are accordingly drawn closer.
Jesus asked that as often as we do this, we do it in remembrance of him. First, we remember him by looking back upon his life in the flesh, recalling that he did indeed live among man as the word of God (John 1:1), the bread of life (John 6:48), the way, the truth and life (John 14:6), the one to whom all authority has been given in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) Next, we accept him by receiving the outpouring of the Spirit of Truth into our own vessels so that it bears witness with our spirit (Romans 8:16) and so that we are guided, comforted, strengthened, empowered and renewed. (John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 15:26-27; John 16:13; Acts 1:8) And finally, by faith, we discern that we shall all sometime sup with him in the Father’s eternal kingdom. (Luke 22:28-30)
In this intimate evening supper, we are free to be intimate and deeply personal with Christ in our understanding and appreciation of his life and ministry because, as spirit-conscious sons of the Father, we know that Christ is literally present, in our midst. (Matthew 18:20) And when we have concluded this supper, let us resolve in our hearts that we will never turn our backs on the friendships and relationships we have cultivated this evening, learning to love one another ‘as Jesus loved us.’ (John 13:34)
It is up to the sons of light to show the glory and freedom of the kingdom of the heavens. We can no longer hide and live as though we have no power, for the only real power is spiritual power. So let our lights shine brightly into the hearts of men so that all who witness our faith will see the living Christ in us as clearly as if he were standing with them as he stood with his disciples nearly 2,000 years ago. Yes, let the glorified Christ live, not only in heaven, but through the experiences of the spirit born faith-sons of God who have eaten and drank of him as he commanded.