QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
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?”
“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.”