KEEP DOING THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME
February 6, 2013
“Also he took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them, saying: ‘This means my body which is to be given in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’ Also, the cup in the same way after they had the evening meal, he saying: ‘This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.’”
– Luke 22:19-20
It was a solemn night, early in the first century, on Nisan 14 according to the Jewish calendar, when Jesus arranged for a special supper with his twelve apostles – a remembrance supper that would serve to comfort them in Jesus’ absence. This supper is called the Lord’s Evening Meal or Memorial of Christ’s Death and we are commanded to ‘keep doing this’ until the Christ returns. This is the only event in Jesus’ entire earthly career that he commanded his followers to memorialize. For this reason, this supper should be paramount in the minds of all mankind, especially those who are followers of Christ Jesus.
This year, Nisan 14 falls on March 26, 2013. On that date, after sundown, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world will meet together to formally commemorate the remembrance supper in their Kingdom Halls, Assembly Halls, private homes, rented facilities and other places. We invite, no, we strongly urge, people of all faiths to share in this night with us by commemorating the remembrance supper in their own churches, halls, auditoriums, private homes, etc. It is important that all spiritual minded people meet together with persons of like faith to honor the unmatched life of Jesus of Nazareth and take part in the Lord’s Evening Meal as he commanded. This is a night for all of mankind because all of us owe our existence and future life to the him.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.”
– Colossians 1:15-16
While on earth, Jesus explained, regarding all mankind:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
And for all who choose to go through “the way” in order to attain to the Father, Jesus was preparing ample space to receive them:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.”
– John 14:1-2
The remembrance supper is a very simple unpretentious event as described in the introductory scripture cited above. (Luke 22:19-20) It involves a sharing of bread and drink among men and women of faith as they show their respect and appreciation for Jesus Christ, the exemplary life he led, and his glorious message of freedom and salvation. Because the first memorial supper occurred in connection with the Jewish Passover, the bread on the table was unleavened bread and the drink was red wine. Accordingly, when the supper is commemorated, the attendants usually arrange for the presence of unleavened bread and red wine. But these emblems are merely symbolic of something much greater.
The bread is symbolic of Jesus’ body which is ‘the bread of life that is given in our behalf’ – the living word of truth incarnated in mortal flesh. (John 6:35, 48-51) The cup of wine is symbolic of the new covenant with mankind where God’s law is written in our hearts by means of the ministry of the Spirit of Truth which was poured out on our behalf. (Jeremiah 31:33; John 16:12-14; Acts 2:17-18) For a further discussion of the Memorial emblems, see Eating and Drinking Worthily, and other articles in the Memorial Articles section of our website. We also intend to publish another article for the 2013 Memorial entitled Jesus In Our Midst.
What is important is the meaning of the symbols, not the symbols themselves. So, if unleavened bread is not readily available, another sort of bread may be used. And if red wine is not available, another product of the vine may be used, such as grape juice. This is important to note since many who choose to participate in the remembrance supper do not drink alcoholic beverages, including young children who have made a consecration to do the will of the Father.
Some would disagree with this suggestion, asserting that the bread must be unleavened because it represents Jesus’ sinless body, and the drink must be red wine because it represents his blood. But Jesus never gave it this strict interpretation. In fact, this type of strict ritualism is the very thing Jesus resisted. He was not a slave to tradition. He was far more concerned with the spirit behind the law, than with the letter of the law. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
“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
When planning your commemorations, we suggest you read the gospel accounts of the Memorial Supper and see how Jesus and the twelve apostles commemorated that night. (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; John 13:1-17:26) At a certain point in the night, Jesus passed the bread and wine and commented on their significance. You can do the same at your Memorial Supper. But rather than give you a formula for conducting your Memorial Supper, we encourage you to use your imaginations and let the spirit lead you in this regard. There are no formalities other than the sharing of the bread and drink.
It was also an occasion to discuss spiritual things, including brotherly love and unity. In the first Memorial Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles as an object lesson in humility. It was the custom in those days for the servant of the host to wash the feet of the guests as they arrived. Pitchers of water, basins and towels were placed just inside the door for that purpose. But on this occasion, there was no servant, so when the apostles arrived there was no one to wash their feet. Any of the apostles could have taken on that role, but not one of them did. Instead, they proceeded to the dinner table and took their seats, subtly vying for the honored positions next to where Jesus would sit. Jesus did not chastise them for their lack of humility. He simply demonstrated what real humility is.
“[Jesus] got up from the evening meal and laid aside his outer garments. And, taking a towel, he girded himself. After that he put water into a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel with which he was girded.”
– John 13:4-5
Afterward, Jesus explained the lesson:
“When, now, he had washed their feet and had put his outer garments on and laid himself down at the table again, he said to them: “Do you know what I have done to you? You address me, ‘Teacher,’ and, ‘Lord,’ and you speak rightly, for I am such. Therefore, if I, although Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another. For I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also. Most truly I say to you, A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth greater than the one that sent him. If you know these things, happy you are if you do them.”
– John 13:12-17
During our Memorial suppers, we should approach the evening with the same type of humility for our brothers and sisters in attendance. Not that we must wash each other’s feet, but we should be mindful of the needs of all those in attendance and look for ways to be of service to one another. And after we share in this intimate supper, perhaps we can carry that humility out of the building and into our daily affairs. By faith we enter into the spiritual brotherhood, but we remain in it by the way we treat ‘the least’ of our brothers. (Matthew 25:34-40)
There were so many other lessons Jesus taught that night that can serve as topics for conversation. See our article, Our Most Holy Night that we published for the 2012 Memorial supper. We also encourage you to learn as much as you can about Jesus and his earthly ministry so that on that night, the emblems of bread and wine will have heightened meaning for you. You may wish to read these articles: Who is Jesus Christ? Christ’s Relation to the Individual, The Faith and Religion of Jesus, and Worshipping with Spirit and Truth.
Even though many Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate the evening formally with a large group of fellow worshippers, at their suppers, only a very small number actually participate in eating the loaf and drinking the cup. We, the authors of this site, are trying to help them see that all who belong to the Christ must be sharers in the remembrance supper. This is an opportunity to openly and publicly confess our union with Jesus. And conversely, it is our opportunity to have Jesus openly confess his union with us before his Father in the heaven:
“Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with 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
One way we hope to effect this change in their teachings is to encourage all active Jehovah’s Witnesses who have accepted their sonship with God, and are following the Christ, to make their hope known by publicly partaking of the emblems. That way, our leadership in Brooklyn, New York, will know that the Father’s spirit is active in our association of brothers and is awakening them to sonship and their heavenly hope. Perhaps that knowledge will move them to abandon the death-dealing pretense of everlasting life on earth and more openly teach them to fix their minds on heavenly things – the real life. (Colossians 3:2; 1 Timothy 6:19)
After the supper, Jehovah’s Witnesses have the custom of getting together at local restaurants to fellowship. This year, we would like to suggest that those who had the faith and courage to partake of the emblems arrange to meet together afterward in private homes to discuss their hope and their love for the Father and His Christ. They may even want to share bread and drink again in the company of their true brothers in the faith. Rather than ending the night in frivolity, let it end in solemn appreciation for all that Christ has done for them and in a re-dedication to doing the will of the Father.
And to all others who choose to share in this night in their own places of worship, we encourage you, too, to spend the evening in solemn contemplation. It is our wish that one day, our entire planet will give worshipful honor to the Christ and recognize our oneness as a spiritual family, children of God and brothers to each other. Imagine the rejoicing that will occur in heaven by the angels looking on at our faithfulness! Perhaps by so doing we can minimize the woes that are destined to come upon mankind for failing to recognize our Creator.
After the Memorial, we hope to hear from all of you, sharing your experience of commemorating this special occasion. We would like to know how you celebrated, what you talked about, how many attended and participated, and where you are located on this beautiful planet. We will set aside a section on our site where we will publish those comments.
Before Jesus left the earth, he asked this question:
“[W]hen the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?”
– Luke 18:8
It is our prayer that more and more of mankind come to appreciate their wonderful Creator and Elder Brother Christ Jesus so that when he arrives, the answer will be a resounding “Yes!” He will unquestionably know that his life and his death for us was not in vain. He will know that we heard him, that we believe him, that we honor him and look forward to sharing an eternity with him.
We intend to publish at least one more article before this coming Memorial Supper to prepare us for this auspicious night. In the meantime, as the Apostle Peter wrote, ‘let us do our utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.’ (2 Peter 3:14) And so we shall!
We welcome your comments.