“How good and how pleasant it is . . . to dwell together in unity!”—PSALM 133:1.
1, 2. In 2018, what event will unite us in a unique way, and why? (See opening picture.)
ON March 31, 2018, millions of people around the world will go to an event that happens only once a year. After the sun has set, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others will meet together to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Each year, the Memorial of Christ’s death unites people in an amazing way, more so than any other event on earth.
2 Jehovah and Jesus must be truly happy when they see millions of people going to that special event hour after hour, all around the world. The Bible describes “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues,” shouting: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 10) It is wonderful that each year at the Memorial, so many people honor Jehovah and Jesus for the great things they have done!
3. What questions will this article answer?
3 In this article, you will find the answers to these four questions: (1) How can I prepare for the Memorial so that I will truly benefit from it? (2) In what ways does the Memorial help all of God’s people to be united? (3) What can I do to promote unity among God’s people? (4) Will there ever be a final Memorial? If so, when?
HOW CAN WE PREPARE FOR THE MEMORIAL AND BENEFIT FROM ATTENDING IT?
4. Why is it important for us to be at the Memorial?
Jehovah and Jesus notice each one who does his best to attend the Memorial
4 Why is it important for us to be at the Memorial? One reason is that attending meetings is a way we worship Jehovah. We can be sure that Jehovah and Jesus notice each one who does his best to attend this most important meeting of the year. We want Jehovah and Jesus to see that we will be at the Memorial unless it is absolutely impossible for us to be there. When our actions prove that our meetings are important to us, we give Jehovah one more reason to keep our name in his “book of remembrance.” This book is also called “the book of life.” It has the names of all those to whom Jehovah wants to give everlasting life.—Malachi 3:16; Revelation 20:15.
5. In the weeks before the Memorial, how can you “keep testing whether you are in the faith”?
5 In the weeks before the Memorial, we can spend extra time praying and thinking carefully about how strong our relationship with Jehovah is. (Read 2 Corinthians 13:5.) The apostle Paul told Christians: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith.” How can we do that? We can ask ourselves: ‘Do I really believe that this is the only organization that Jehovah has chosen to do his will? Am I doing my best to preach and teach the good news? Do my actions show that I truly believe we are living in the last days and that the end of Satan’s rule is near? Is my trust in Jehovah and Jesus as strong as it was when I first started serving Jehovah?’ (Matthew 24:14; 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 3:14) Thinking about the answers to these questions will help us to “keep proving” what we are.
6. (a) What is the only way for us to receive everlasting life? (b) How does one elder prepare for the Memorial each year, and how can you do something similar?
6 One way that you can prepare for the Memorial is by reading and thinking about articles that explain why this event is so important. (Read John 3:16; 17:3.) The only way for us to receive everlasting life is to come to know Jehovah and to have faith in his Son, Jesus. To prepare for the Memorial, we can choose study projects that will help us to feel closer to them. This is what one brother who has been an elder for a long time does. For many years, he has collected Watchtower articles that discuss the Memorial and the love that Jehovah and Jesus have shown us. In the weeks before the Memorial, he reads these articles again and thinks seriously about why this event is so important. Sometimes he adds an article or two to his collection. He also reads and thinks deeply about the Memorial Bible reading. This elder says that by doing all of this, he learns new things each year. Most important, his study makes him love Jehovah and Jesus more. When you study in that way, you too will love Jehovah and Jesus more and more. You will also be more thankful for what they have done, and you will benefit more from the Memorial.
THE MEMORIAL HELPS US TO BE UNITED
7. (a) What did Jesus pray for on the night of the first Lord’s Evening Meal? (b) What shows that Jehovah has answered Jesus’ prayer?
7 On the night of the first Lord’s Evening Meal, Jesus said a special prayer. He prayed about the precious unity that he and his Father have. Jesus also prayed that all his disciples would be united in the same way. (Read John 17:20, 21.) Jehovah has definitely answered that prayer of his dear Son. More than any other meeting, the Memorial clearly proves that Jehovah’s Witnesses are united. On that day, millions of people of many different countries and skin colors meet together around the world and show that they believe that Jehovah sent his Son. In some places, it is very unusual for people of different races to have religious meetings together, or if they do, others feel that this is not proper. But that is not how Jehovah and Jesus feel. To them, our unity at the Memorial is beautiful.
8. What message did Jehovah give to Ezekiel?
8 As Jehovah’s people, we are not surprised that we are united in this way. Jehovah foretold this unity in his message to Ezekiel. He told Ezekiel to take two sticks, one stick “for Judah” and one “for Joseph,” and to bring them together so that they would become one. (Read Ezekiel 37:15-17.) The “Questions From Readers” published in The Watchtower of July 2016 explained: “Through his prophet Ezekiel, Jehovah foretold that his people would return to the Promised Land and that they would be united as one nation again. That prophecy also foretold that those who worship God during the last days would be united as one people.”
9. Each year at the Memorial, how do we see the unity foretold in Ezekiel’s prophecy?
9 Beginning in the year 1919, Jehovah first gradually reorganized and reunited the anointed. They were like the stick “for Judah.” Then, more and more of those who hope to live forever on earth began to join the anointed. These ones with an earthly hope are like the stick “for Joseph.” Jehovah promised to join these two sticks and to “make them one stick” in his hand. (Ezekiel 37:19) He made the anointed and the “other sheep” become “one flock.” (John 10:16; Zechariah 8:23) Today, both groups are united and serve Jehovah together. And they have one King, Jesus Christ, who in Ezekiel’s prophecy is called God’s “servant David.” (Ezekiel 37:24, 25) Each year at the Memorial, when we meet together to remember Jesus’ death, we see the unity of these two groups as foretold through Ezekiel. But what can each one of us do to preserve and promote the unity of God’s people?
WHAT CAN EACH ONE OF US DO TO PROMOTE UNITY?
10. How can we promote unity among God’s people?
10 What is the first way we can promote unity among God’s people? By working hard to be humble. When Jesus was on earth, he told his disciples that they must be humble. (Matthew 23:12) People in the world often view themselves as more important than others. But if we are humble, we will respect the brothers who take the lead in the congregation and we will obey their direction. Only then can the congregation be united. Most important, if we stay humble, we will please God, because he “opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—1 Peter 5:5.
11. How can thinking about the bread and the wine used at the Memorial help us to promote unity?
11 What is the second way we can promote unity? By thinking carefully about what the bread and the wine really mean. We should do this before the Memorial and especially on that night. (1 Corinthians 11:23-25) The unleavened bread represents the perfect body that Jesus gave as a sacrifice. The red wine represents his blood. But we need to do more than simply understand these basic facts. We need to remember that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice involved the two greatest acts of love. Jehovah gave his Son for us, and Jesus willingly gave his life for us. When we think about their love, it will motivate us to love them. And the love we all have for Jehovah will strengthen our unity.
12. In the story about a king and his slaves, how did Jesus make it clear that Jehovah wants us to forgive others?
12 What is a third way we can promote unity? By freely forgiving others. When we do so, we show that we are thankful that Jehovah can forgive our own sins because of Jesus’ sacrifice. To show why it is important to forgive, Jesus told a story about a king and his slaves. Please read Matthew 18:23-34 and ask yourself: ‘Am I motivated to do what Jesus taught? Am I patient and understanding with my brothers and sisters? Am I ready to forgive those who have offended me?’ It is true that some sins are more serious than others. And some sins can be very hard for us as imperfect humans to forgive. But Jesus’ story teaches us what Jehovah wants us to do. (Read Matthew 18:35.) Jesus makes it clear that Jehovah will not forgive us if we do not forgive our brothers when they are genuinely repentant. That is certainly something that we must think carefully about. To protect and preserve our precious unity, we need to forgive others as Jesus taught us.
13. How do we promote unity when we keep peace with others?
13 When we forgive others, we keep peace with our brothers and sisters. The apostle Paul said that we should work hard to remain united with one another and have peace. (Ephesians 4:3) So around the time of the Memorial, and especially on that night, think deeply about how you treat others. Ask yourself: ‘Is it clear to those who know me that I do not stay angry with people who offend me? Can people see that I try hard to make peace and promote unity?’ These are serious questions to think about.
14. How can we show that we are “putting up with one another in love”?
14 What is a fourth way we can promote unity? By imitating Jehovah in showing love. (1 John 4:8) We would never say, “I may have to love my brothers, but I don’t have to like them.” If we think this way, we are not following Paul’s counsel to be “putting up with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) Notice that Paul did not simply say that we should be “putting up with one another” but that we should do so “in love.” There is a difference. There are various kinds of people in our congregations, and Jehovah has drawn them all to him. (John 6:44) So he must see many good reasons to love them. If our brothers and sisters are worthy of God’s love, how can we say that they are not worthy of our love? We should be eager to love them the way Jehovah wants us to.—1 John 4:20, 21.
WHEN WILL THE FINAL MEMORIAL BE?
15. How do we know that there will be a final Memorial?
15 One day, we will attend the Memorial for the last time. How do we know? Paul told anointed Christians that when they remember Jesus’ death each year, they “keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) In his prophecy about the time of the end, Jesus also talked about his “coming.” Speaking about the great tribulation soon to come, he said: “The sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” (Matthew 24:29-31) Jesus will “gather his chosen ones” when he takes all anointed Christians still on earth to heaven. That will happen after the great tribulation has started but before the war of Armageddon. In that war, Jesus, along with all of the 144,000, will fight against the kings of the earth and win. (Revelation 17:12-14) The last Memorial that we will attend before Jesus “comes” to gather the anointed will be the final one.
16. Why are you determined to be at the Memorial this year?
16 Be determined to be at the Memorial on March 31, 2018. And ask Jehovah to help you do your part so that we as his people can remain united. (Read Psalm 133:1.) One day, we will go to the Memorial for the last time. Until that day, let us show that the pleasant unity we have each year at the Memorial is very precious to us.