Are You Prepared for the Most Important Day of the Year?
JUST a few hours before he died, Jesus instituted a special way to commemorate his death. This observance became known as “the Lord’s evening meal,” or “the Lord’s supper.” (1 Corinthians 11:20; English Standard Version) Showing the importance of the occasion, Jesus commanded: “Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19, The Bible in Basic English) Do you desire to obey Jesus? If so, then you will view the anniversary of Jesus’ death as the most important day of the year.
But when exactly should you commemorate this event? And how can you make sure that you are fully prepared to understand the significance of this important occasion? These are questions that each Christian should carefully consider.
We usually remember important events annually. For example, although the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are constantly on the minds of those in New York City who lost loved ones when the World Trade Center was attacked, when that date comes around each year, it holds special significance for them.
Likewise, in Bible times important events were remembered annually. (Esther 9:21, 27) Jehovah commanded the Israelites to celebrate their miraculous release from slavery in Egypt annually. The Bible refers to that celebration as the Passover, and the Israelites observed the event once a year on the actual date that they were saved.—Exodus 12:24-27; 13:10.
Jesus had just finished celebrating the Passover with his apostles when he instituted the special meal that would become the model for memorializing his death. (Luke 22:7-20) The Passover was celebrated annually. Therefore, we can conclude that this new observance that replaced the Passover should likewise be held once a year. But on what date?
To answer that question, we need to understand two things. First, in Bible times a new day began in the evening, at sunset, and ended the next day at sunset. A day, therefore, ran from evening to evening.—Leviticus 23:32.
Second, the Bible does not use the calendar that we use today. Rather than using months with such names as March and April, the Bible speaks of such months as Adar and Nisan. (Esther 3:7) The Jews counted their months from new moon to new moon. They celebrated the Passover on the 14th day of the first month of their calendar, Nisan. (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 28:16) That day, Nisan 14, was the same date that the Romans impaled our Lord Jesus Christ. He died 1,545 years after the first Passover meal was celebrated. What a special date Nisan 14 is!
But what date corresponds to Nisan 14 on our calendar today? A simple calculation helps us arrive at the proper date. Nisan 1 starts when the new moon nearest the spring equinox (the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere) becomes visible at sunset in Jerusalem. If we count 14 days from that event, we arrive at Nisan 14. This date is usually the day of the full moon. Using this Biblical method, Nisan 14 this year begins at sunset on Sunday, April 17, 2011. *
This year, Jehovah’s Witnesses are therefore preparing to gather together with all those who wish to remember Jesus’ death. They cordially invite you to associate with them. Please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses locally to find out the time and location of this gathering. They will be commemorating this event, not in the morning or in the afternoon, but in the evening after sunset. Why? Because according to the Bible, this is to be an “evening meal.” (1 Corinthians 11:25) The evening of Sunday, April 17, 2011, is the anniversary of the evening that Jesus started this special commemoration 1,978 years ago. It is also the start of the same day, Nisan 14, that Jesus died. What better day could there be to remember his death?
How to Prepare
What can you do now to prepare for this once-a-year occasion? One way is to meditate on what Jesus has done for us. The book What Does the Bible Really Teach? * has helped millions to enhance their appreciation for the meaning of Jesus’ death.—Matthew 20:28.
Another way to prepare our hearts for this special occasion is to read about the events leading up to the last day of Jesus’ life here on earth. On the following pages, you will find a chart. The column on the right provides a list of parallel Bible accounts that describe the events prior to Jesus’ death. Included also in this listing are the chapters from the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived * that explain the events.
The column on the left compares the dates of those events with the days they correspond to this year. Why not take time to read at least some of the passages of Scripture on each of the days leading up to the Lord’s Evening Meal? It will help you to prepare for the most important day of the year.
^ par. 11 This date may not coincide with that of the Passover kept by modern-day Jews. Why not? Most Jews today keep the Passover on Nisan 15, believing that the command at Exodus 12:6 points to that date. (See The Watchtower of February 15, 1990, page 14.) But Jesus celebrated it on Nisan 14 in harmony with what was stated in the Mosaic Law. For more information on how to calculate this date, see The Watchtower of June 15, 1977, pages 383-384.
^ par. 15 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Blurb on page 22]
Commemorate Jesus’ death Sunday, April 17, 2011
[Chart/Pictures on pages 23, 24]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
THE FINAL WEEK
2011 Tues. April 12
□ gt 101, pars. 2-4 *
NISAN 9 (begins at sunset)
In Bible times the new day began in the evening, after sunset, and ended the next day at sunset
▪ Feast with Simon the leper
▪ Mary anoints with nard
▪ Jews come to visit Jesus and Lazarus
□ gt 101, pars. 5-9
2011 Wed. April 13
▪ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem
▪ Teaches in temple
□ gt 102
NISAN 10 (begins at sunset)
▪ Spends night in Bethany
2011 Thurs. April 14
▪ Early trip into Jerusalem
▪ Cleanses temple
▪ Jehovah speaks from heaven
□ gt 103, 104
NISAN 11 (begins at sunset)
2011 Fri. April 15
▪ Teaches at temple, using illustrations
▪ Condemns Pharisees
▪ Notes widow’s contribution
▪ Predicts Jerusalem’s fall
▪ Gives sign of future presence
□ gt 105 to 112, par. 1
NISAN 12 (begins at sunset)
2011 Sat. April 16
▪ Quiet day with disciples in Bethany
▪ Judas arranges betrayal
□ gt 112, pars. 2-4
NISAN 13 (begins at sunset)
2011 Sun. April 17
▪ Peter and John prepare for Passover
▪ Jesus and other ten apostles follow in late afternoon
□ gt 112, par. 5 to 113, par. 1
NISAN 14 (begins at sunset)
▪ Celebrates Passover
▪ Washes feet of apostles
▪ Dismisses Judas
▪ Institutes Memorial of his death
□ gt 113, par. 2 to the end of 116
2011 Mon. April 18
▪ Betrayed and arrested in garden of Gethsemane
▪ Apostles flee
▪ Tried by Sanhedrin
▪ Peter denies Jesus
□ gt 117 to the end of 120
▪ Stands before Sanhedrin again
▪ Taken to Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate
▪ Sentenced to death and impaled
▪ Dies about three o’clock in the afternoon
▪ Body removed and buried
□ gt 121 to 127, par. 7
NISAN 15 (begins at sunset)
2011 Tues. April 19
▪ Pilate approves posting guards at Jesus’ grave
□ gt 127, pars. 8-9
NISAN 16 (begins at sunset)
2011 Wed. April 20
▪ Appears to disciples
□ gt 127, par. 10 to 129, par. 10
^ par. 29 The numbers listed here refer to chapters in the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (gt). For a chart containing the detailed Scriptural references for Jesus’ final ministry, see “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” page 290, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.