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Jehovah’s Witnesses



Why We Observe the Lord’s Evening Meal

Why We Observe the Lord’s Evening Meal

“Keep doing this in remembrance of me.”1 CORINTHIANS 11:24.

1, 2. What did Jesus do on the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E.? (See opening picture.)

IN Jerusalem, on the night of Nisan 14, 33 C.E., there was a full moon. Jesus and his apostles celebrated the Passover, a memorial that reminded people of the way Jehovah delivered Israel from Egypt 1,500 years before. Jesus had a special meal with his 11 loyal apostles, a meal that his followers would repeat yearly to remember his death.Matthew 26:1, 2.

2 Jesus said a prayer, passed unleavened bread to his apostles, and said: “Take, eat.” Then he took a cup of wine, prayed again, and said: “Drink out of it, all of you.” (Matthew 26:26, 27) The bread and the wine had special meaning. Jesus’ faithful apostles learned many things on that important night.

3. What questions will we discuss in this article?

3 Jesus wanted his disciples to remember his death  yearly. The occasion was later called “the Lord’s Evening Meal,” or the Memorial. (1 Corinthians 11:20) Some questions arise. Why should we remember Jesus’ death? What is the meaning of the bread and the wine? How can we prepare for the Memorial? Who should partake? And how do Christians show that they value their hope?


4. What did Jesus’ death make possible for us?

4 Because Adam sinned, we inherited sin and death. (Romans 5:12) No imperfect human can give God a ransom for his life or the life of others. (Psalm 49:6-9) But Jesus gave his perfect life for us and presented to God the value of that ransom. By doing so, Jesus made it possible for us to have the hope of living forever, free from sin and death.Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22.

We deeply appreciate what God and Jesus have done for us!

5. (a) How do we know that God and Jesus love us? (b) Why should we attend the Memorial?

5 God proved his love for humans by providing the ransom. (John 3:16) Jesus also proved his love by giving his life for us. Even before he came to earth, Jesus “was especially fond of the sons of men.” (Proverbs 8:30, 31) We deeply appreciate what Jehovah and Jesus have done for us! That is why we obey Jesus’ command to “keep doing this in remembrance of me” by attending the Memorial.1 Corinthians 11:23-25.


6. What do we understand about the Memorial bread and wine?

6 During his last meal with his apostles, Jesus did not perform a miracle by changing the bread into his body or the wine into his blood. He said of the bread: “This means my body.” He said of the wine: “This means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many.” (Mark 14:22-24) It is clear that the bread and the wine are symbols, or emblems.

7. What does the unleavened bread represent?

7 On that important evening, Jesus used unleavened bread from the Passover meal. (Exodus 12:8) The Bible sometimes uses leaven to represent sin. (Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Luke 12:1) The unleavened bread Jesus used represented his sinless body. (Hebrews 7:26) This is why we use unleavened bread at the Memorial.

8. What does the wine represent?

8 The wine Jesus used represented his blood, or his life, as does the wine we use at the Memorial today.  At a place outside Jerusalem called Golgotha, he died for us and gave his life “for forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28; 27:33) If we appreciate that precious gift, we will personally prepare each year for this special occasion. How can we do that?


9. (a) Why should we use the schedule for Memorial Bible reading? (b) How do you feel about the ransom?

9 One way to prepare for the Memorial is to use the schedule for Memorial Bible reading found in Examining the Scriptures Daily. Reading the Bible accounts will help us to meditate on what Jesus did just before his death. * (See footnote.) “We look forward to the Memorial,” wrote one sister. “It becomes more special each year. I remember standing in the funeral home . . . , looking at my dear dad and coming to a true heartfelt appreciation for the ransom. . . . Oh, I knew all the scriptures and how to explain them! But only when I felt the cold reality of death did my heart fairly leap with joy over what will be accomplished for us by means of that precious ransom.” Meditating on how Jesus’ sacrifice will help us personally is an important part of preparing for the Memorial.

By following the Memorial Bible reading schedule, we prepare ourselves for the Memorial (See paragraph 9)

10. What else can we do to prepare for the Memorial?

10 Another way we can prepare is to increase the time we spend in the ministry, inviting as many people as possible to the Memorial. Perhaps we could auxiliary pioneer. When we talk to others about God, his  Son, and the hope of everlasting life, we will feel satisfied that we have done what God wants us to do.Psalm 148:12, 13.

11. Why did Paul say that some Corinthians ate and drank unworthily at the Memorial?

11 When preparing for the Memorial, meditate on what Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth. (Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-34.) He said that if a person who ate the bread and drank the wine did so unworthily, or disrespectfully, he would be guilty regarding “the body and the blood of the Lord.” So if an anointed person is involved in wrong conduct and partakes of the emblems, he “eats and drinks judgment against himself.” In Paul’s time, many of the Corinthians were involved in wrong conduct. Possibly, some of them ate and drank too much before or during the Memorial and became sleepy. They were showing great disrespect for the occasion, so when they partook of the emblems, God did not approve.

12. (a) What did Paul compare the Memorial to? What warning did he give to partakers? (b) What should a partaker do if he has seriously sinned?

12 Comparing the Memorial to a meal, Paul warned partakers: “You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:16-21) If a person who partakes of the emblems has seriously sinned, he must go to the elders for help. (Read James 5:14-16.) If his actions prove that he has sincerely repented, then he is not showing disrespect for Jesus’ sacrifice when he partakes at the Memorial.Luke 3:8.

We would never want to show disrespect for Jesus’ sacrifice

13. Why should we pray about the hope God has given us?

13 We can also prepare for the Memorial by praying and meditating on the hope God has given to us personally. We would never want to show disrespect for Jesus’ sacrifice. So we do not partake of the emblems if we do not have clear evidence that we are anointed. Who, then, should partake of the emblems?


14. Because the anointed are part of the new covenant, what do they do at the Memorial?

14 Those who partake of the Memorial emblems are absolutely sure that they are part of the new covenant. Jesus said of the wine: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood.” (1 Corinthians 11:25) Jehovah made the Law covenant with the Israelites but later said that he would replace it with a new  covenant. (Read Jeremiah 31:31-34.) God made this new covenant, or agreement, with the anointed. (Galatians 6:15, 16) Jesus’ death made this agreement possible. (Luke 22:20) Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant. The loyal anointed ones who are part of the new covenant will be with Jesus in heaven.Hebrews 8:6; 9:15.

15. Who are part of the Kingdom covenant? If they are faithful, what privilege will they have?

15 The anointed know that they are also part of the Kingdom covenant. (Read Luke 12:32.) This covenant was made between Jesus and his loyal anointed followers, who shared “in his sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10) Faithful anointed ones today are also part of this covenant. They will rule as kings with Christ in heaven forever. (Revelation 22:5) They are qualified to partake of the emblems during the Lord’s Evening Meal.

16. Briefly explain the meaning of Romans 8:15-17.

16 The anointed are absolutely sure that they are God’s children and that they can partake of the emblems. (Read Romans 8:15-17.) Paul said that they cry out: “Abba, Father!” The Aramaic word “Abba” is both loving, like “papa,” and respectful, like “father.” It expresses the special relationship that the anointed have with Jehovah when they receive “a spirit of adoption as sons.” God’s spirit “bears witness” with them, so that they know without a doubt that they are his anointed sons. It does not mean that they do not want to live on the earth. They know that if they are faithful until their death, they will be kings in heaven with Jesus. And they know that they “have an anointing from the holy one,” Jehovah. Today there are only a few of these 144,000 sons of God left on earth. (1 John 2:20; Revelation 14:1) They feel so close to Jehovah that they call him “Abba, Father!”


17. What hope do the anointed have? How do they know that they are anointed?

17 If you are an anointed Christian, you will often mention your heavenly hope in your personal prayers. And the Scriptures will have special meaning to you. For example, when the Bible talks about the marriage in heaven between Jesus and his “bride,” you know that this applies to you and you look forward to it. (John 3:27-29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 9-14) Or when the Bible explains God’s love for the anointed, you know that he is talking to you. And when you read instructions specifically for the anointed in God’s Word, holy spirit moves you to obey them. God’s holy spirit “bears witness” with you that your hope is to go to heaven.

18. What hope do the “other sheep” have? How do you feel about this hope?

 18 If you are one of the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” God has given you the opportunity to live forever in Paradise on earth. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) How do you feel about your future? You are excited when you meditate on what the Bible says about the future Paradise. You look forward to living in a peaceful world with your family and friends. You want to see the end of hunger, poverty, suffering, sickness, and death. (Psalm 37:10, 11, 29; 67:6; 72:7, 16; Isaiah 33:24) You cannot wait to see your resurrected loved ones. (John 5:28, 29) You are deeply grateful to Jehovah for this wonderful hope! Even though you do not partake of the emblems, you attend the Memorial because you appreciate Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.


19, 20. (a) How is it possible for you to live forever? (b) Why will you attend the Memorial?

19 You can live forever, either on earth or in heaven, only if you exercise faith in Jehovah God, Jesus Christ, and the ransom. When you go to the Memorial, meditate on your hope and on the great importance of Jesus’ death. After sunset on Friday, April 3, 2015, millions of people around the world will attend the Memorial at Kingdom Halls and other locations.

20 When we prepare to attend the Memorial with the right attitude, we will be very grateful for Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. By listening closely to the Memorial talk, you will be moved to show love for others and tell them about Jehovah’s love and his purpose for all of us. (Matthew 22:34-40) Be determined to be there.

^ par. 9 See Appendix B12 in the New World Translation.